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Monday, November 9, 2009

Pacquiao and Cotto have an equal chance to win Saturday's showdown

Being a fulltime boxing writer is, for the most part, a great gig.

The athletes I write about for RingTV.com are fascinating -- often inspirational -- personalities, and some of the events I get to cover are right out of a hardcore fight fan’s dream.

The welterweight showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, which takes place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this Saturday, is a prime example.

I’m going to be ringside to witness the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter take on one of the best welterweights in an atmosphere that will be akin to a World Cup final.

So what’s the drawback of being a fight scribe? There really aren’t any, but a slight pain in my butt is the expectation from fans and fellow journalists to pick the winner before every major fight.

Usually it’s no big deal, but every now and then we’re lucky enough to get a match between world-class fighters that’s too close to make a clear call.

That’s what we have with Cotto vs. Pacquiao. Folks, this is an even matchup between classy fighters I admire so much that trying to predict the outcome actually takes away from the enjoyment of the fight.

Sadly, if I just call the fight a “pick-’em” contest and leave it at that the message board freaks will say I’m “hedging” or “waffling.” Whatever.

The truth is that both Pacquiao and Cotto have an equal chance to win Saturday’s fight and I’m going to tell you why, starting with the Filipino icon.


Pacquiao’s keys to victory are obvious ones -- his speed and style.

Cotto has many impressive physical tools, but quickness isn’t one of them.

While it’s true the two-division titleholder has proven his ability to cope with faster fighters. I don’t know whether he’s ever dealt with a speed demon of Pacquiao’s caliber.

Cotto has faced two fighters possessing hand speed that is comparable to Pacquiao’s -- Zab Judah and Shane Mosley, both of whom he beat in 2007.

What doesn’t bode well for Cotto is that Judah, who isn’t in Pacquiao’s league, repeatedly nailed and rocked him during the first half of their entertaining scrap.

Many ringsiders believed that Mosley, who is in Pacquiao’s league, competed well enough with Cotto to deserve a draw. Some fans and members of the press thought Mosley did enough to win the fight by a point or two.

So while it’s true that Cotto has the skills to compete with faster fighters, it’s clear that he struggles when faced with ultra-talented speed merchants.

Unfortunately for Cotto, Pacquiao is a far more complete fighter than Judah and, unlike Mosley, he’s also in his prime.

However, it’s not just the velocity of Pacquiao’s punches that will cause Cotto all kinds of trouble; it’s the various angles from which the pound-for-pound king will deliver his blistering combinations.

Under Freddie Roach’s guidance, Pacquiao has developed into a complete boxer with a full arsenal at his disposal, and the dynamic southpaw can reach into his bag of veteran tricks to unleash jabs, right hooks, lead lefts, uppercuts, body shots or head and foot feints at the speed of thought.

Adding defense and additional angles to Pacquiao’s upper-body offense is his frenetic footwork. The Pac-Man’s feet are just as fast as his fists and his fluid in-and-out movement have made him one of the most devastating stick-and-move specialists of the decade.

Bottom line: Pacquiao is very hard to time and almost impossible to predict.

Can the same be said of Cotto?

I think not.

However, Cotto has a lot going for him in this fight.


Like Pacquiao, Cotto’s advantages are obvious ones: his size, physical strength, savvy and versatility.

Cotto is no more than an inch and a half taller than Pacquiao and his reach is equal to or even shorter than the naturally smaller man. However, the Puerto Rican star is a real welterweight; Pacquiao isn’t.

While it’s true Pacquiao has fought at welterweight once before and looked spectacular taking apart Oscar De La Hoya last December, we all know that he faced a faded, weight-drained veteran, and he had to train on protein shakes just to tip the scales at 142 pounds.

Roach is the first to admit that junior welterweight, where Pacquiao holds THE RING world title, is the best division for his fighter.

“He had two full meals before the (Ricky) Hatton weigh-in and he still only weighed in at 138 pounds,” Roach said recently.

Cotto competed in the 139-pound division during the final years of his amateur career, when he was still a teen-ager. He struggled mightily to make the 140-pound limit as a young pro before he finally stepped up to the welterweight division in December of 2006.

I don’t have to tell RingTV.com readers that Cotto has looked much sturdier at 147 pounds than he did at junior welterweight.

Cotto is used to banging with much bigger men than Pacquiao and he has exhibited the physical strength to muscle junior middleweight-sized fighters to the ropes.

If Cotto can back Pacquiao to the ropes, he has the power and accuracy to seriously hurt the 140-pound champ.

I’ve witnessed more than a few sparring sessions in which rugged fighters who were lighter than Cotto backed Pacquiao to the ropes and put heavy hands on the Pinoy hero.

Former lightweight contender Jose Armando Santa Cruz did it more than once prior to Pacquiao’s fight with Jorge Solis in 2007. Once-beaten lightweight Urbano Antillon did it in a number of gym sessions during Pacquiao’s camp for Hatton.

Cruz and Antillon are tough hombres but they don’t punch as accurately or as hard as Cotto does.

Pacquiao’s fans can make the argument that their man often holds back in sparring sessions, and I agree with this point, but there’s evidence in his fights that he’s vulnerable along the ropes.

Erik Morales landed his best shots when Pacquiao’s back was to the ropes. I recall a natural junior featherweight, Oscar Larios, putting Pacquiao on Queer Street for a scary split second or two during their 130-pound bout in 2006. Larios landed his near-history-changing left hook while Pacquiao was playing around on the ropes.

If Cotto gets Pacquiao in the same position and lands his hook in the same spot, forget about it, the fight’s over.

But Cotto has more than a puncher’s chance in Saturday’s contest. He has the kind of guile, savvy and versatility that only comes from quality experience.

No, Cotto is not as seasoned as Pacquiao, nor has he faced as many elite fighters as the six-division titleholder has, but he’s as experienced against top fighters as a 29-year-old boxer can be.

In less than 10 years in the pro game, Cotto has faced 11 titleholders, five of whom were undefeated and three of whom were Top-5 RING-ranked contenders at the time he fought them.

Cotto’s one-sided stoppages of Carlos Quintana and Carlos Massua, his slugfests with Ricardo Torres and Judah, and his 12-round battles with Mosley and Joshua Clottey have shown us the kind of fighter and man he is.

He’s a formidable boxer-puncher with clean technique, accurate combinations, underrated counter-punching ability and a devastating body attack. He’s doesn’t have the best set of whiskers but his heart is truly world-class. Cotto will not wilt in the face of adversity.

Some fools have had the gall to say Cotto quit in his lone loss to Antonio Margarito last July. That’s absolute garbage. Cotto, who boxed brilliantly for five rounds and fought valiantly for the next five, was literally beaten into submission by the iron-chinned Margarito, whose gloves might have been loaded.

Cotto does not quit when the going gets tough. Even when he’s partially blinded by a gruesome cut over one of his eyes, as he was in his tough fight with Clottey in June, the man finds a way to win.

Can the same be said about Pacquiao? I’m not 100 percent sure.

The hardest fights I’ve covered of Pacquiao’s was his technical draw with the late Agapito Sanchez in 2001, his points loss to Morales in 2005 and his split-decision over Juan Manuel Marquez last March.

In each of those bouts, Pacquiao suffered nasty gashes over one of his eyes and -- I know I’m going to piss off his legion of fans with what I’m about to suggest next, but so be it -- there were moments after he was cut in all three of those bouts when it looked like he didn’t want to be in the ring.

What if Pacquiao suffers a cut against a fighter as big and confident as Cotto? It may very well happen, folks. Pacquiao is a southpaw who jumps in with his punches and Cotto is an orthodox fighter who often leans his head forward when he lets his hands go.

If Pacquiao gets cut during Saturday’s fight, will he regress into the emotional one-armed bandit he used to be? Can he afford to have a round, or even half a round, when he seems lost or confused because of the flow of blood obstructing his vision?

Food for thought.


I’ve got one but I’m not letting it out of the bag yet.

I want to enjoy the anticipation of an excellent matchup without picking a winner for a few days.

Don’t worry, I’ll give my prediction by Friday’s mailbag, or maybe even after the weigh-in, but I want to hear what you think first.

Source: ringtv.com


  1. You are right that both are capable to win this fight but I disagree with you when you doubt Pacquiao's "Fighting spirit". PACMAN came a long way from 2001 til 2009. To comment on his performance 8 years ago is not fair.

    PACMAN was struggling to cut weight in the past but he still performed brilliantly in the ring. Over the years as a boxer,he got thicker and he gained muscle mass, experienced, techniques to go along with his K/O power punches and not to forget, he actually kept his speed and gained more power moving up. What more can we ask for? I won't even compare him to Mayweather who is afraid to loss and content to show up with half-baked performance to do just enough to keep his belt. When Pacquio fights, he gives it all "Win or Loss" all the people that watched all his fight are content that he went in the ring to fight and perform for the audience. I can honestly say that he is one of kind, even in his defeats, he towers other people's success. He will be remembered as the best boxer who ever lived.

    God must have a sense of humor, he annointed an Asian (Filipino) to dominate a sport (boxing) that was invented in the West....

    Tough act to follow and tough break to swallow by Pacquioa haters....

    "Cotto the Man, but Pacquioa the Champ"


  2. PACMAN WINS!!!! COTTO FALLS!!! Use your BRAINS if you got any!!! its all in the first round to decide! Cotto is not who he think he is now! He's just telling all of you he's fine, but he's not!!! I'll Bet my SPORTS CAR for PACMAN KO'S COTTO!

  3. Why wait friday after all things were said. Pacquiao revolutionize boxing technique through his work ethics, system of boxing through speed and power. He has a God given skill/talent meant to withstood bigger oponent, just like in Biblical history when Goliath was defeated by David.Im certain Pacquiao will wear down Cotto to his defeat.

  4. Easy fight for Pacman. He can connect at Cotto at will the WHOLE round and even can take Cotto's punches.

    Talking w/ Cotto's punching speed:
    Cotto is too SLOOOW for Pacman. I expected that Cotto will be slow
    but when i watch the fight. Cotto is much MORE SLOW than i expected.
    Cotto's had come against speedy opponents before and beat them.
    But Pacman is different.
    Pacman has the speed and ACCURACY w/ his punches. not just punches but LOTS of punches.
    If Pacman had the speed and accuracy then he can deliver effectively his firepower.
    Or trade punches.
    "you give me 1 power punch then i trade with 3 power punches"
    then whose the winner?
    it may not be a knockdown but still earning points.
    Win by knockdown or by decision is just the same. Its still a win!

    As everyone says,
    Cotto throws his knockout punch this Sunday
    This punch will expected to land on Tuesday.
    That too slow!
    Coz compare to Pacman, he throws his knockout punch today and it will expected to land on the same day.
    One point in a fight about mid and late rounds Pacman urges Cotto to trade punches.
    Like "Common bring it on" Common lets trade punches!
    as Cotto start moving away from Pacman around the ring. (back bicycle)
    I can read Cotto's face saying:
    No NO NO, Im losing the trade of punches! I can't take it any more! I need to survive till 12 rounds"

    Talking w/ Cotto's power:
    I notice Pacman at one point of a time just dare to take punches from Cotto,
    Pacman is not insane!
    because he knows that he can take those or trade to Cotto's punches.

    Talking about Cotto's chin:
    BEFORE the fight i predict this fight will be winning by decision. No knockdowns.
    As both sides can take strong punches and a had a thin chance of a knockdown.

    DURING the fight I never Expect this and i hate to say, but Cotto's has been knocked down by Manny!
    A legitimate knockdown (not a slip!) that make Cotto's hit his gloves in the canvass.
    Where's the durable chin now?

    During Cotto's knockdown:
    I can see at Cotto's face saying,
    "this is not a joke! He's got the EFFECTIVE combination and SPEEED to deliver his firepower,
    Manny is too slippery for me. I CAN't hit him with better shots. How can i deliver my own firepower?"
    The last question is the Big question fo Cotto!

    Talking w/ Cotto's jabs:
    I found Cotto's jabs more strong, efficient and stingy. but it's not that effective against a moving
    target like Pacman. It would hit Manny, and yes it stunned Pacman, several times during the fight.
    but jabs cannot knockdown a boxer like Pacman. Be REAL!
    Cotto's needs not just jabs and combinations to deliver his power
    but jab and GOOD EFFECTIVE combination.
    This is a trainers job..

    Cotto's Trainer:
    Manny has a good trainer than Cotto.
    Roach has more experience in teaching Manny what is the most EFFECTIVE combination.
    Like selecting the right weapon in the fight. Cotto's trainer doesnt have.
    Somebody still dont know that boxing is also a mind game and teamwork.
    Chances of winning starts at the training camp and finishes in the ring! its a team effort.

    Manny training camp has the right people to unleash his strenght against his opponents.
    Cotto had two trainers. you may 2, 5, 10 trainers. but are they the right ones?
    Experience had serve at it's BEST!

    PACMAN has:
    SPEED - Before The fight Cotto still underestimate this advantages of Pacman.
    Cotto believes that he beat speedy opponents before.

    But he forget to consider that together with speed theres something else after the word:



    SPEED w/ ADJUSTMENT (type of opponent)


    and it KILLS!
    you may had the firepower but sluggishnes and imprecise where to hit your target is not effective boxing.
    you can take and TOLERATE those accurate and power punches
    You can stand on power punches.
    you have a durable chin for power punches.
    but this is not the way of winning a round in boxing.
    Others may say that its also effective in tiring your opponents.
    BUT PACMAN is a promising 12 rounder boxer!

  5. Everyone always questioning the punching power of Pacman compared to Cotto.

    But as the fight ends you can see it on Cotto's bloody face.
    more convincing when he knock the big COTTO.

    much embarrassing for COTTO's fans

    Cotto's had the power.
    yes he had it.
    But he doesn't know how to land it on Pacmans face!

    This was speed all about. Now i hope you all understand..