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December 22, 2014

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BOXING:

Don’t sleep on Manny Pacquiao, trainer warns

If You Go

  • Who: Manny Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) vs. Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs)
  • What: 12-round welterweight title fight
  • When: Nov. 14
  • Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena
  • Tickets: Sold out
  • TV: HBO pay-per-view, $54.95

Beyond the Sun

The term “to throw out” in sports prognosticating means to dismiss a particular result as fluky.

Picture a horseplayer drawing a line through the description of a recent race while studying past performances in the racing form.

Freddie Roach, Manny Pacquiao’s trainer, has a warning for anyone trying to make a case for Miguel Cotto in their Nov. 14 welterweight showdown at the MGM Grand.

If you throw out the results of Pacquiao’s two most recent fights, you’re doing so at your peril.

As Roach sees it, a sort of revisionist history is taking place regarding the two bouts — a one-sided stoppage of Oscar De La Hoya and a thrilling knockout of Ricky Hatton.

Somehow, Roach pointed out, the conventional wisdom has become that De La Hoya was clearly a shot fighter by the time he met Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in December.

This so-called wisdom runs counter to the fact that right up until the opening bell, De La Hoya was not only a solid betting favorite but also an overwhelming choice to win the fight among boxing insiders.

“Before the fight everybody said Oscar was going to kill Manny,” Roach said. “Why do you have to say that Oscar had a bad night? Why can’t you say it was Manny having a good night?”

Likewise, in retrospect the story line of the Hatton fight describes a game and brave fighter in Hatton, who was quite obviously out of his league against a world-class boxer in Pacquiao.

Roach, though, recalls answering repeated questions leading up to the fight about how Pacquiao would deal with Hatton’s greater size and supposedly superior punching power.

The pattern is developing again in the buildup to Pacquiao’s fight with Cotto, another physically larger opponent.

“Miguel has a good left hook, but I don’t think he is the strongest that we have faced,” Roach said. “Hatton was supposed to be stronger than us also. I have no worries about that because that’s not what wins fights. Boxing ability wins fights, and Manny is a better boxer. We’ll show it on the 14th.”

Roach, in fact, has come around to believing his fighter will not only win the fight against Cotto, but knock him out.

“It is kind of growing on me,” Roach said. “Working the mitts with Manny at this weight, he is punching so much harder than he ever has. He is punching fast and hard and I don’t think Cotto has enough. He is hittable and people that Manny can hit, he knocks out.”

It sounds suspiciously — and, for Cotto backers, alarmingly — like Roach’s discourse before the Hatton fight, when he told me: “If Manny Pacquiao hurts him, we will finish him.”

Pacquiao, for his part, made his usual statement on a conference call this week that he considers knockouts a bonus. If they come, fine. But he trains to win the fight.

“I always believe in my power, but if I am lucky to hit a good punch against my opponent and knock him out that will make me happy too,” Pacquiao said.

Roach did have one more prediction. If Pacquiao does prevail Nov. 14, Cotto will be portrayed as a used-up fighter unable to recover from his brutally tough recent fights with Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito.

“That is everyone’s nature,” Roach said. “No one likes to give credit where credit is due.

“But I think Manny looked great in his last four fights and we are going to look great in this one too. Just put him in front of us and we’ll beat him. I think I have the greatest fighter in the world today and I think we’ll prove that again with Miguel Cotto.”

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