Monday, August 3, 2009

Opinion: Pacquiao-Cotto

Even though I have already touched on the subject of this fight, with it now a reality, I thought it may deserve more in-depth analysis. I mean, do you take a woman back home with the intention of cuddling and hearing her hopes and dreams? No freaking way, you go in there to turn that thing inside out! So......scheduled for November 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto will square off in a match between two of the sports biggest stars in it's best division. Both fighters have a huge fan base as Pacquiao has reached demi-god type status in his native Philippines after becoming the first fighter in history to win titles in six divisions whilst Cotto is the current pride of Puerto Rico and carries a lot of clout in New York.

Although classed as a welterweight fight, it is being fought at a catch weight of 145 pounds. This is wrong. Really wrong. If Pacquiao wants to lay claim to being a welterweight champion then he should be fighting at the 147 pound everyone else. What this reduced weight clause really says to the world is that Pacquiao is not prepared to fight real welterweights at their peak condition (or even Shane Mosley at 140). Weak sauce dude, weak sauce. You could argue that he started at 106 pounds and is therefore naturally smaller but, if that is the case, what the H.E double-hockey-sticks are you doing campaigning at welter? It would be like me going to fight a heavyweight and stipulating that they could only use one hand (they would still quick stoppage...Craig's opponent ftw!).

MANNY PACQUIAO (49-3-2, 37 KOs)

Pacquiao's major strength is his speed, which is absolutely blistering and has magnified his power as he has came up through the weight classes without losing any his quickness. He is a whirlwind of activity in that he can fight the last round just as hard as he fought the first.

Pacquiao comes out to throw and his left hand, from his southpaw stance, is dangerous as hell. You only have to watch the footage of him hitting the snooze button on the lovable-but-limited Ricky Hatton to see what it is capable of. Earlier in his career this was all he was looking to land but, under new trainer Freddie Roach (three time Trainer of the Year), he has developed into a complete boxer who can throw the right hook almost as well as the left hand and jab, counter and throw straight shots should the situation call for it. He has also improved in every fight and beat the top guys in every division he has competed in. His wins against Hatton, De La Hoya and Diaz were magnificent displays of dominance. Furthermore, Roach is a superb tactician who was, in no doubt, somewhat responsible for Pacquiao's biggest wins of late.

Defensively, Pacquiao is very good having only been stopped once (when he was struggling to meet the 112 pound flyweight limit) and lost just once in the last ten years. He has excellent head movement and foot speed to boot.

Pacquiao has been known to struggle against counter-punchers. Juan Manual Marquez held him to a draw and a split decision, both of which were debatable. Cotto can be slick and counter punch well but whether he can hang with Pacquiao's speed remains to be seen. Having started his professional career age 16 at 106 pounds, there must also be questions of how he is going to handle a real welter as opposed to a faded De La Hoya. The way to beat Cotto is to put him on the back foot and I don't know if Pacquiao has that kind of strength.

MIGUEL COTTO (34-1, 27 KOs)

Cotto is a precision puncher who viciously works the body before turning out the lights. He throws the straight right like he is trying to knock your head off your shoulders and hits like a sledgehammer when going to the slats. Boxes and moves excellently, the first six rounds of the Margarito bout were fantastic displays in the art of hitting and not being hit. Aggressive as all hell, he brings a lot of pressure and, even if there is only a slight disparity in skill between the fighters, Cotto’s pressure will make it all the more apparent.

He has also faced some of the top fighters the division has to offer in Mosley, Margarito and Clottey. All these fights were tough with Cotto enduring a (probable) glove loading by Margarito and fighting through a nasty cut with Clottey. Both these fighters are huge welterweights who could bounce up to 154 without a problem, which is the reason they could back Cotto up and Pacquiao just doesn’t seem strong enough to do so. Against smaller fighters like Judah (who is more relative in size to Pacquiao), Cotto was far stronger and could exert his will.

The big question that hangs over Cotto is how he will respond to a big test like Pacquiao after his loss to Margarito. Cotto has seemed less confident following this and, when faced with a stern test, he abandons the body attack all together. Why? I mean, your one of the best body punchers in the game and, against Pacquiao, you are gonna need to try and slow him down.

The 145 pound weight limit will be the lightest Cotto has weighed in at for more than three years and he was struggling (and subsequently seemed drained) in his final junior-welter bouts. If he is drained at 145, it is severely going to affect his ability to throw and apply pressure. Cotto wins by applying pressure.

Pacquiao’s work rate may also give Cotto fits as he can throw all night. We have seen Cotto fade late in his three biggest bouts (Mosley, Margarito, Clottey) which will play right into Pacquiao’s favour.


Both fighters come to swing, both have great chins and if Pacquiao wants to trade early it will be to his detriment. Freddie Roach won't let this happen. I still think Pacquiao will start fast but he will look to box and counter until the middle rounds. Cotto can't match Pacquiao's speed and should go the body early, if he can pin him down. This approach will leave him wide-open upstairs. Cotto will be stronger over the first half of the fight with Pacquiao darting in and out with lightning combinations. After six we should see Pacquiao become a whole lot more aggressive and Cotto start to fade. Cotto won’t be able to back up or move out of the way and will start getting caught by left hands only to capitulate inside of 10.

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