Pacquiao vs. Cotto: Breakdown and Prediction
By Ted Sares - I think it was a very smart move by Miguel to move the whole team to Tampa for this fight and for the last fight --Joe Santiago
Article posted on 28.10.2009
He is right where I want him to be, perfect --Freddie Roach
These two will fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on November 14 in what promises to be another great war between two superstars—this one at a catch weight of 145 pounds. Cotto is 34-1 with a lofty KO percentage of 77.14 while Pacquiao is 49-3-2 with an impressive KO percentage of 68.52.
The Breakdown: In many ways, these two are more alike than not. They are skilled, have great heart, are great sportsmen, and represent their respective homelands with dignity and class, but enough of the niceties, let’s cut to the chase..
Level of Opposition:
Manny has fought 9 fights against 5 guys who arguably have a great shot at being inducted into the Hall of Fame. But he also fought and beat fine Thai and Filipino fighters with great records coming in. If you throw a dart at his list of opponents, you might, for example, hit South Korean Seung-Kon Chae (23-0), Mexican Oscar Larios (56-4-1), Thai Wethya Sakmuangklang (41-3), or Colombian Jorge Eliecer Julio (44-3).
Cotto’s list of opponents is also impressive. It includes name like Zab Zudah, Sugar Shane Mosley, and Antonio Margarito. He is now coming off a split decision win over the tough Joshua Clottey, a fight in which he showed that he can still fight through adversity.
Cotto is a boxer/puncher but most often, he is a stalking and menacing presence that carefully breaks down his opponents with heavy and punishing body attacks. In his fight with Mosley, he showed he is far more than a banger; in fact, he seems to add to his technical skills each time he fights.
But speaking of skills, Pacquiao now seems to possess an arsenal the qualitative content and completeness of which only Floyd Mayweather Junior can stake claim to. With his in-and-out whirlwind movement, effective jabs, fight-ending hooks from both hands, solid stamina, and a sound defense, there is little to criticize. As for speed, Pacquiao is flat out faster than Cotto in every way, particularly with his foot movement.
Both have one punch Knock Out power, though in my opinion, Cotto is stronger than Pac Man at this weight and if he connects flush, he could send Pac Man back to General Santos City faster than you can say “Boricua.” But Pacquio’s ability to send Cotto to Caguas dreamland should not be underestimated. It will be interesting to see what happens when Miguel tests Manny with his first rattling body shot.
Cotto has been hurt on a number of occasions and I see his chin as being relatively weaker than that of Manny’s, but his recuperative power and strength advantage make this a wash. Manny has been hurt badly as well, but it occurred too far back to be meaningful in my view.
Both are savvy and experienced fighters, but I believe Pacquiao has the edge as he can adapt to different situations faster. However, Cotto showed he can adjust as well in the Mosley fight and then later against Clottey when he fought from the outside during the last rounds. Yet, was this from being overly cautious perhaps as a result of the so-called “Ghost of Margarito,” or was it because Clottey held back for some inexplicable reason and did not press the action? If a similar situation develops in this fight, Pacquiao will not be reticent and will jump on Cotto faster than you can say “Pinoy.”
These are particularly important. Let’s start with …
1) Momentum: Pac Man gets the clear nod. He is on a great streak of big wins (Hatton, De La Hoya, Diaz, Marquez, Barrera, Solis, Morales, and Larios). Cotto, however, is coming off a close SD win, a walk-over win with Michael Jennings, and a devastating TKO loss to Margarito. More importantly, the loss to Margarito raises questions as to whether he is as good as he once was.
2) Cuts: Both fighters are prone to cuts, so the effectiveness of their respective cut men could play a key role here. It certainly did in Cotto’s last outing. Moreover, Manny’s body is more rested than Cotto’s.
3) Trainers and Camp: Freddie Roach vs. Junito’s relatively new corner. On April 8, 2009, Cotto fired his uncle, Evangelista Cotto, from the team's staff, following a reportedly violent discussion. He then appointed Joe Santiago, who had been his nutritionist, as his new trainer. Though he guided Miguel to victory in the Clottey fight, the clear nod goes to Roach. Look, you don’t argue with his kind of success.
However, there have been rumors (which I don’t necessarily buy) that the strong chemistry between Freddie and Manny has been straining some. If true, this evens out what could be an obvious advantage for Pacquiao. The typhoons have devastated the Philippines while Manny was training there. How this might impact him is conjectural, but it did, in fact, force Roach to break camp early against Manny’s objections. Still, it could provide an incentive for Manny in the fight. This is a classic intangible factor. On balance, it does appear Cotto is having a more serene camp than Pac Man.
4) Cotto's loss to Margarito: Some say it was suspicious and therefore the severity of it should be discounted. But even assuming that to be so, the beating took place so suspicious or not, the damage was done.
5) Catch Weight: Cotto coming down; Pacquiao coming up favors Cotto, though Pacquiao seems to take his strength with him as he moves up in weight.
6) Dimensions: They are both about the same size, but Cotto has a naturally bigger frame.
I see Pac Man beating Miguel Cotto in a fast paced action fight in which Manny will exploit Cotto’s weakness beginning in the mid rounds (but I don’t see it happening the other way around). This exploitation will be enhanced by Pacquio’s incredibly fast in-and-out movement accompanied by just about every punch in the manual-- and each thrown with malice aforethought—as he cuts and befuddles Cotto and starts to slow down his trademark stalk as he lands punches from every direction.
Now then, I clearly remember Cotto backing up in the late rounds against Clottey and I think I even might have seen glimpses of “Margorito” being somewhere in that ring. If Cotto backs up against Pacquiao (and I think he will at some point), the Filipino superman will be on him fast and will not let him off the hook. Of course, if Pac back up against Cotto going into the late rounds, that could spell doom for him, because Cotto is a stalker extraordinaire and who knows how to close off a ring and knows how to close a fight.
In sum, given his superb performance against Ricky Hatton and given Miguel’s not-so-superb performance against Clottey, Manny may well win within the distance, perhaps on cuts. Cotto will not like the overwhelming variety of weapons he faces including stinging jabs, right hooks to the head, left hooks to the jaw, brutal uppercuts (remember Margorito), speed, and in-and-out movement the likes of which he has never before seen. Miguel, on the other hand, will show Manny nothing new except strength and maybe one of the best body attacks in boxing. But speed will be the decisive factor here and speed is what Manny Pacquiao is all about.
One thing is certain; this will be a blood and guts type of affair.
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