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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto: The Next Super-fight

On Nov. 14th, two of the biggest stars in boxing will face-off for a PPV super-fight. Super-fights are something special in boxing; they are the types of fights that get the general public to pay attention to the sport of boxing.
I go through a few different phases for super-fights:

PHASE 1: Going into a big fight like this I always envision an epic battle between two gladiators, blood and guts warriors, grit, sweat, anger, and any other adjectives that sound tough and manly! I blog about what an amazing ballsy, kick-butt fight it will be. I talk to whoever will listen about my expectations, scientific analysis, and true gut feelings. This is a great phase to be in.

PHASE 2: Honey roasted peanuts are set out, Bud Lights are cold, my scorecards ready, and my girlfriend this one is important). I then proceed to suffer through two or three horrid under-card fights, that if I'm lucky are complete mismatches and will at the very least end quickly. If I'm not lucky it's a Zab Judah mismatch that should have ended early, but he once again doesn't live up to expectation and drags me through the miserable fight for ten or twelve rounds. This is phase filled with anxiousness and yet a little aggravation.

PHASE 2.1: The under-cards were terrible, but that's OK, the main event will be so amazing it will make up for everything! I refill my peanut jar, double check the fridge to make sure I have enough BL’s (because the main event will have me on the edge of my seat for at least ten rounds). I answer a few text messages driving home my prediction, letting everyone on the planet know what an amazing boxing mind I have. THE FIGHT: The main event ends as soon as it started or is a patty cake match for twelve rounds, where on top of everything the decision is a debacle! (Obviously there is the diamond in the rough, but most do end in disappointment.)

PHASE 3: Then comes the moping, tears, sadness, and complaining about forking over $50 bucks; "FOR THAT!” After that you swear off the sport forever because it's corrupt, doesn't treat its loyal fans with respect, and bleeds you dry every time you are forced to spend your hard earned cash. My girlfriend cues up Dancing With the Stars on DVR, and just yeses me to death until I finally stop my babbling and go to sleep in a Bud Light induced coma. (She's very patient with me.)

PHASE 4: I read on Eastsideboxing.com how the winner will square off against another huge name in the sport for what will inevitably be the fight of the year! Now that fight is going to be the best fight ever! I can't wait to blog about it, talk about, and pay money for it! I guess that means it's back to phase 1.

Well folks, I am here to tell you that I am knee deep in Phase One right now! Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto are two guys who haven't ducked anyone, fight with true heart, and put on fights for the fans. There is no way this one can let us down. I am so deep into phase one that I decided one prediction blog wasn't enough for this showdown. I am going to write a three part blog about this fight:

PART 1: Why I Love Miguel Cotto
Miguel Cotto has been one of the most consistent fighters in the world of boxing over the past few years. There hasn't been another guy in boxing who has constantly taken on the best, fought entertaining fights, and tested his own abilities quite like Miguel Cotto, except maybe Manny Pacquiao.

The reason Miguel Cotto is so fun to watch is that he IS beatable. I suppose that shouldn't be a reason why you love a fighter so much, but I think that was why Arturo Gatti was so popular. That's why every Diego Corrales fight was a must see, and it's probably why Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been trying for years to get a fan-base. It's not that you root against a fighter; it's that you never really know how he will pull off the victory.

There is a crazy nervous feeling I get when Cotto steps into the ring with his opponent, because a lot of the times I've thought the other guy has the tools to beat him. Somehow Cotto has figured out a way to overcome that adversity, and that is what fans want in their fighters. That ability to dig deep and muster some energy, or skill that maybe even the fighter didn't know he had, it is what makes elite athletes so special.

Miguel Cotto for the most part looks like a machine when he enters the ring -- chin down, gloves high, and his eyes glaring between his fists like a sniper peering through his scope. He is also very militaristic in the way he can systematically break an opponent down, as he did with Carlos Quintana, Paulie Malignaggi, Randall Bailey, Kelson Pinto, Lovemore N'dou, and many others.

There have been many fights though where he wins using other tools in his arsenal. In 2005, Cotto faced off against Ricardo Torres and won that fight on pure heart. The two traded bombs in the center off the ring for several rounds, until Cotto was the last man standing. (The picture of Cotto at the end of that fight will always be a lasting memory for me.)

In 2007, Miguel proved to the world that he was an upper echelon fighter when he disposed of two fast capable fighters in Zab Judah, and Shane Mosley. Against Judah he was taking on a fast, heavy handed fighter, who when his mind is in the game can beat just about anyone (of course his mind is never really in the game). Cotto overcame a vicious uppercut early in the fight, and fought through a severely damaged lip to impose his will, stopping Zab in the eleventh. Fighting Mosley later that year Cotto was beating the faster guy to punch and showed off some magnificent boxing skill that many didn't believe he possessed. He out-boxed Mosley in an extremely entertaining fight, in which I think Miguel showed the ability to not only break opponents down, but game plan and execute against another elite fighter.
In the lead up to the showdown against Manny Pacquiao all the talk has been about what the Pac-man is going to bring to the table, and rightfully so, he has had a run unlike anything I have seen in a long time (not since maybe Tyson). I feel however it's because of Cotto's only loss (Antonio Margarito) and his last fight (Joshua Clottey) that people are forgetting what a solid fighter Miguel Cotto is. In 2008, he took on the self-proclaimed "most avoided man in boxing," Antonio Margarito. The first half of the fight Cotto fought like he did against Mosley, dancing around the ring, and putting on a splendid display of his boxing skills (I still wish he had focused on the body instead of the head though). Then as the sixth round came and went, Cotto began to slow down and Margarito's punches started to take their toll, forcing Cotto to take a knee in the eleventh. Margarito was found with loaded hand-wraps in his next fight against Cotto victim Shane Mosley, begging the question of whether he had loaded wraps against Cotto as well.

In his last fight Cotto took on the very tough and, I feel, vastly underrated Joshua Clottey. Cotto looked strong early on before getting cut in the third round, and Clottey put on the pressure. Cotto had to dig deep in the championship rounds to pull off the split decision. The fight could have gone either way, but it seemed like Clottey just stopped fighting in those last rounds, and Cotto was able to walk away with the razor thin decision.

Is Cotto still haunted by the loss, and beating to Margarito? Maybe, I know I would not be able to overcome something like that. Did that affect him in the Clottey fight? I don't think so; I think Clottey is an underrated fighter, who will only be beat by the best fighters in the world. Let's not forget that Clottey’s only other loss is to Antonio Margarito, in which Clottey was making Margarito look very human for the first half of the fight, before he stopped boxing in the second half. Which brings up a few questions; were Clottey’s hands hurt as he claims? If so, he is quite a tough rugged fighter, which begs the question: were Margarito's hands loaded then as well? Where Clottey's hands fine, and he just has a habit of slowing down and not fighting towards the end of fights, as he did with Cotto? Either way, Clottey is no pushover and can beat any fighter on any given night.

I love Cotto for many reasons, but one above all the others: he comes to fight (I also like some of his new tattoos, but mostly because he comes to fight). Whether he's the wrecking ball that ran through Quintana, Branco, and Malignaggi, the Rocky Balboa who survived Ricardo Torres, or the finesse boxer who outpointed Shane Mosley, Cotto shows up and entertains on fight night. I have yet to watch Miguel Cotto step in the ring and not be entertained, and I don't see him letting me down on Nov. 14th.

Stay tuned for PART 2: Why I Love Manny Pacquiao.

Source: nesn.com

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