MANILA, Philippines?Maybe this time, Puerto Rico will grind to a halt to watch Miguel Cotto fight.
With his belt on the line and trainer Freddie Roach?s words under his skin, the reigning WBO welterweight champion understands exactly how much bigger the stakes actually are when he climbs the MGM Grand ring to face Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas.
?It?s huge,? trainer Joe Santiago told DailyBreeze.com?s Robert Morales of the fight?s implications. ?Everybody knows what Pacquiao has done and we know what Miguel is capable of doing. It would not only be huge for me and Miguel, but for everybody in Puerto Rico.?
A popular athlete in the Caribbean nation, Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs) could achieve the iconic status of Pacquiao?who compels an entire nation to sit still every time he fights?with a victory over the reigning pound-for-pound king.
The low-key Santiago also said he faces no added pressure going up against the tested tandem of Pacquiao and Freddie Roach, the renowned trainer whose prediction of a first-round knockout had Camp Cotto barking rebuttals all over the web.
?I have been around the camp for seven years, so I know how he prepares himself,? said Santiago. ?The confidence the Cotto family had in me, made me feel good.?
Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) isn?t just fighting for a rich purse, either. Already with six weight crowns?including lineal ones?the hard-punching southpaw from Mindanao hopes to bag an unprecedented seventh when he hunts for Cotto?s WBO belt.
Top Rank chief Bob Arum, confident as he is in the abilities of his current top-grosser, cautioned that Cotto may catch a good enough break during fight night to pull off an upset, citing the Puerto Rican?s performance against Joshua Clottey, who he narrowly defeated despite a nasty cut above the eye.
?For Miguel to come back after suffering that cut and to come back and pull out a victory I think shows an absolutely brilliant performance,? Arum told DailyBreeze.com.Francis T.J. Ochoa