WEST L.A.-Reeking of sweat, heat and the scent of more than 100 body odors in the small West L.A. boxing gym, Miguel Cotto seemed right at home as he used the ropes, shadow boxed, hit the mitts and chit chatted with a few celebrities on Tuesday.
Cotto’s rare L.A. media workout brought out the journalists eager to capture the Puerto Rican bomber who defends his WBO welterweight world title against Pound for Pound champion Manny Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) on Saturday Nov. 14.
The clash takes place in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and will be shown on HBO pay-per-view.
Cotto spoke with television star Mario Lopez and posed with the Tecate girls before sitting down to speak with the several dozen fight reporters. On Wednesday it’s Pacquiao’s turn.
“I wouldn’t be here unless I thought I could beat him,” said Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs), who is soft-spoken as usual.
Standing in the corner away from the press was cut man Joe Chavez, a long-time trainer in the gyms of East L.A. and perhaps the best hand wrapper and caretaker for boxers suffering gashes during a fight. Many attribute Cotto’s win over Joshua Clottey to Chavez’s ability to shut down the blood streaming down the Puerto Rican’s face.
One thing most people overlook is Chavez previously worked with Pacquiao too. Aside from hand wraps and cuts, the man also knows boxing. But don’t ask him who is going to win.
“I stay out of that,” said Chavez, who may work with Pacquiao in the future. “I just deal with the day to day stuff.”
But ask Chavez what Cotto does well?
“He’s a very strong puncher,” said Chavez. “And he’s a very good counter-puncher. That’s what he does very well.”
When Cotto and Pacquiao meet next week it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Puerto Rican boxer force the Filipino superstar to attack. He’s probably seen dozens of tapes and evaluated what opponents like Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales were able to do successfully and throw out the strategies that didn’t work.
Told that Pacquiao has been talking about Mayweather, Cotto was succinct with his response.
“After I beat him then he can fight Floyd Mayweather all he wants,” Cotto said matter-of-factly of Pacquiao.
Most people forget that Cotto has only one loss. That came a year ago to Mexico’s Antonio Margarito. The issue of hand wraps though often given to Cotto as a scapegoat was not grasped.
“Nobody knows if his hand wraps were illegal or not,” said Cotto of Margarito.
Cotto is a man’s man. He would rather beat Margarito in the ring then have some commission reverse the loss of July 2008. He knows a win over Pacquiao would vault him to the top of the Pound for Pound standings too.
“I don’t know how fast Manny Pacquiao is but we’re going to find out,” said Cotto.