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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cotto/Pacquiao: 5 Top questions, 1 Final answer


Past the 9th round, (rds 10-12), Miguel Cotto is 6-1, 4KO's all-time, while Manny Pacquiao is 9-1-1, 3KO's all-time. The intriguing stat here is the fact that despite Pacquiao being the fighter who is easily identified as having the best stamina, it is Cotto who has historically done the most damage when the fight hangs in the balance during the championship rounds. Perhaps the true magnitude of this question will be addressed by whomever dictates the pace of the fight, which we all know, Pacquiao is the aggressor more often than not. If Pacquiao keeps the fight at a fast pace that could fatigue Cotto, Cotto's stamina towards the end could fall off, and Pacquiao is the last man you want to be walking wounded in front of. Can Cotto avoid stamina issues late in the fight by landing the kind of power shots that rent him a little airspace from the early going? If so, by the late rounds, Pacquiao could be there for the taking. If not, Pacqiuao will once again shock the world.


Against Torres at jr. welterweight, Cotto was rocked and after returning fire of his own, he went on to pull the curtains and close the show. This fight was key for Cotto, because he overcame several thunderous shots that staggered him and even rebounded from the first professional or amateur knockdown of his career. On this night, he proved he could fight back when hurt and/or stunned. Against Margarito, Cotto tried, but the unrelenting will and ability to take every shot in Cotto's arsenal with a 'wink-and-a-grin' proved to be too much, as Cotto would leave the ring with the most humbling KO loss possible. Pacquiao has Margarito's unrelenting will to win, but will his 'stretched-to-the-brink-of-capacity' frame be able to walk through the same fire Margarito had to in orger to get that "W"?


Pacquiao faced great adversity in several fights, but the two that stand out the most came against Marquez (pick either fight), and Morales. The Marquez fights were the proverbial 'Friday-the-13th-walking-down-Elm-Street' scenario for Pacquiao, as no matter what he did, Marquez simply wouldn't go away. In the first fight, Pacquiao knocked him down 3x (which in some rule books would have been ruled a TKO), yet the hungry Mexican warrior fought his way back into contention and left many feeling he actually won the fight. The second showdown was much of the same, but Pacquiao manned up and fought until the end. Against Morales, it was a bad cut that bothered Pacquiao, and despite his valiant effort, the counter-punching ability and spirit of Morales was too much to handle, yet Pacquiao once again never showed quit. He finished that fight on his feet, but how would he handle a cut against a dangerous fighter like Cotto who knows how to close a show?


The first names to come to mind, and perhaps the only ones to stick are Shane Mosley and Zab Judah. Both men still stand as two of the fastest in the sport, definitely the division. Cotto was able to use timing and what Joshua Clottey and many others labeled as a "deceptive speed" of his own to control the fight. The key here...effective counter-punching. Bernard Hopkins, (possibly this era's most keen counter-puncher) often reminds us that "when a fighter is punching, he's open to be punched". Manny Pacquiao's speed is blazing and his off-beat, jump-in-fade-out rhythm makes it awfully hard to time him. Cotto was able to handle the speed of Mosley and Judah, but Pacquiao is another challenge totally. One that comes with deadly velocity from angles that are short, precise, and usually unseen. How will Cotto handle this speed of fury?


If we base this question on his response to the opponents power, we'd have to argue that it was the person who gave him his first professional loss, (Rustico Torrecampo)-(www.youtube.com/watch). This devastating KO was as deflating as it gets. Truth be told, Pacquiao has faced much harder hitting opponents since then. The first names that come to mind are Morales, Barrera, and Marquez. Trouble is, none of those fighters have EVER been known as terribly bruising punchers. That acknowledgement brings about this question.....How will Pacquiao handle being hit by arguably the hardest hitting puncher in the welterweight division? In an interview with Joshua Clottey that I personally conducted, his exact words were: "after facing both Margarito and Cotto, I can tell you that Cotto is FAR, FAR, FAR, FAR, FAR more powerful and strong than Margarito". That was coming from a fighter who weighed in on fight night at nearly 170lbs. This question will be very key.

With 3 months remaining until this epic showdown, the tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife. With two warriors preparing for battle, somehow, I feel that won't be the only thing that gets cut.

For now, all we have are questions....but after a career defining statement, one of these men will give us an answer!

Stay tuned.

Source: http://www.examiner.com/x-845-Boxing-Examiner~y2009m7d25-CottoPacquiao-5-Top-questions-1-Final-answer

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