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Talk turns to Manny Pacquiao fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

‘Whole world’ wants to see it, Pacquiao’s trainer says

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Steve Marcus

Manny Pacquiao, right, is sent to a neutral corner by referee Kenny Bayless after Miguel Cotto goes down in the fourth round.

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Pacquiao vs Cotto

Manny Pacquiao captured his unprecedented seventh title in a seventh weight division with a twelfth-round TKO of Miguel Cotto Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Pacquiao vs. Cotto

Miguel Cotto (L) takes a punch from Manny Pacquiao during their WBO welterweight title fight Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Launch slideshow »
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Manny Pacquiao makes boxing history

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Las Vegas Sun boxing/MMA writer Brett Okamoto sits down with fellow sports writer Ryan Greene and videographer Christine Killimayer to discuss what they all thought about the history making night for Manny Pacquiao.

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Grandiose pronouncements were uttered about when and where negotiations would begin for a proposed fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Boxing insiders were speculating about the contentiousness and hostility those talks would breed.

Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, avoided the conjecture.

He was already getting down to the nitty-gritty.

“The whole world wants to see the Mayweather fight,” Roach said after Pacquiao stopped Miguel Cotto in a dominating performance Saturday night at the MGM Grand. “Let’s fight Mayweather.”

The framework has been created for the potential 2010 showdown. In one corner, there’s Pacquiao, the speedy and explosive southpaw with his own particular brand of genius for launching punches from ungodly angles. In the other, there’s Mayweather, the tactical virtuoso and modern-day Sugar Ray Robinson, Willie Pep or Pernell Whitaker — depending on who’s making the comparison.

Roach sees it in simpler terms. If Pacquiao-Cotto was speed against power, then Pacquiao-Mayweather is exciting against boring, scintillating against sleep-inducing.

“You’ve got an exciting fighter in my guy against a boring guy in Mayweather,” Roach said. “That’s what we’ll have to do to beat him. Engage him.”

Mayweather Jr. wasn’t around Saturday night, so it was up to Floyd Mayweather Sr., who assisted in his son’s preparations for his most recent fight, against Juan Manuel Marquez, to address the Pacquiao bout.

Big Floyd did not disappoint: Cotto was not “the Cotto of old” Saturday, he said. His son would beat Pacquiao in a breeze, and the fight is hardly worth taking. In fact, a more competitive matchup would pit Floyd Sr. himself, age 57, against Pacquiao.

Informed of his comments, Roach responded with an obscenity.

Ah, Freddie Roach mixing it up with the Mayweather Bunch. This will be the gift that keeps on giving. Abundantly.

•••

Here’s a telling illustration of the complete control Pacquiao exerted over Cotto: With the give-and-take between the two men in the first three rounds, the fight had the makings of a classic. But it turns out Pacquiao, temporarily going rogue against the game plan he and Roach had developed, had made a conscious decision to test the limits of Cotto’s power.

“I wanted to get hit,” Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 knockouts) said. “When I started controlling the fight, I got aggressive and made more pressure.”

By the middle rounds, Pacquiao was battering Cotto (34-2) with shots he did not see coming.

A dazed Cotto spent much of the seventh and eighth rounds reeling backward in the ring.

Referee Kenny Bayless halted the fight 55 seconds into Round 12. Roach said if he had been running Cotto’s corner, he would have thrown in the towel in the ninth round, during which Cotto was spitting blood.

After earning a title in his seventh weight class, Pacquiao said the welterweight division is as high as he expects to go.

“This is the last weight division I am going to fight,” he said. “I am pretty sure the Filipino fans are very happy for the victory I have given them.”

•••

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, the promoter of the fight, has spoken of a renaissance in boxing’s popularity in recent years and the role Pacquiao has played in it.

Roach, who has trained Pacquiao for eight years, said he doesn’t have the luxury of stepping back and looking at the big picture.

“I’m too caught up in the day-to-day,” Roach said. “I just do what I like to do. I like my job. That’s why I train mixed martial arts guys with no fear. I like training them, too. If you want to be a better fighter, no matter what sport it is, I’ll do it. I think there’s room for all sports and a good fight is a good fight.”

Arum, for his part, warned against reading too much into any theory about a “rebirth” of boxing.

“Don’t be defensive,” he said. “Boxing never left. People realize now what a great sport it is and what enthusiasm there is and always has been for the sport.”

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