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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Will Pacquiao’s astonishing rise stop with Miguel Cotto?

Ace Freeman provides some early analysis on the fall mega fight between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto set for Nov. 14!

Over the last few years Manny Pacquiao’s amazing resume has been skyrocketing like a hot stock. If one were to look at his recent progress on a chart the line would be on an amazing ascent with no sign of a plateau. He has gone from astonishing victories over Marco Antonio Barrera and Eric Morales at featherweight / super featherweight in the middle years of this decade to his recent march up three more weight classes. All the while his power seemingly increases. More recently one-punch knockouts earned him titles at both 135 and 140 pounds against David Diaz and Ricky Hatton respectively. With each bigger man in each bigger weight class Manny Pacquiao’s blossoming greatness has allowed him to overcome what would be tremendous disadvantages for most smaller fighters. As if that weren’t enough, with each awe inspiring feat we witness him accomplish, his next move has exceedingly been to reach for one step higher. The question that begs to be asked is when will too much become too much?

I was in Las Vegas’s Mayweather gym a week ago when I received a text message from a contact of mine letting me know a formal announcement solidifying Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto for Nov. 14 was pending. As I was about to conduct an interview with Roger Mayweather (Uncle and head trainer of Pacquiao’s pound-for-pound rival Floyd Mayweather Jr.) I was quick to get his thoughts on the soon to be announced mega-fight.

“That little dude has some serious balls!” Mayweather exclaimed.

“I honestly don’t think Pacquiao will beat Cotto… but then again I didn’t think he’d beat Oscar or Ricky Hatton,” the ace trainer said in a rare moment of humility.

With his nephew Floyd Jr. set to face Pacquiao’s nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in September, Roger knows the score all too well. A Pacquiao victory over Cotto would almost guarantee an eventual and historic showdown with Mayweather Jr. (should he get by Marquez as is expected).

As much as Roger has written off Pacquiao in the past, his analysis of a Pacquiao vs. Cotto showdown is sound. He mentioned that while Pacquiao has undoubtedly proved to be a much better fighter than he’d originally thought, a welterweight fight against Cotto may be biting off more than the Filipino fighter can chew.

Pacquiao’s demolition of a clearly larger Oscar De la Hoya in December 2008 was a welterweight fight, but it was also a fight that saw ‘The Golden Boy’ deplete himself to a weight he hadn’t seen in nearly a decade. While Pacquiao’s first foray into the welterweight division was a walk in the park, this next fight should prove much more difficult.

Miguel Cotto started his career as a big and strong junior welterweight in 2001. After a well guided run early in his career the Puerto Rican star gave up his junior welterweight title and moved up to welterweight when 140 pounds became too difficult to make. In his very first fight Cotto dealt a brutal beating to natural welterweight Carlos Quintana to quickly capture the WBA 147 pound title.

In the following years Cotto savagely beat up and stopped Zab Judah and out-pointed the prestigious ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley. Both were highly acclaimed former undisputed welterweight champions in their own right.

In July of 2008 Cotto’s undefeated record came to a halt when he met the formidable Antonio Margarito in a welterweight unification fight. The loss has come in to question after Margarito was recently found guilty of loading his gloves in a fight earlier this year against Shane Mosley. It was a fight Margarito was annihilated in, against an opponent Cotto had earlier out boxed.

Despite the circumstances of Cotto’s loss to Margarito coming in to question, the notion of long term effects on Cotto’s nerves and body have surfaced with the severity of the beating he suffered in the fight. Those concerns may have been quieted with Cotto’s gutsy win over Joshua Clottey in his last bout. It was a fight that quite obviously landed him a showdown with Manny Pacquiao.

Currently, Pacquiao and Cotto’s recent paths segue into many interesting sub plots ahead of their fall mega fight. As Manny Pacquiao has opened up as a betting favorite over Cotto, it begs to ask if there is indeed substance to Cotto’s long term health after the 2008 loss to Margarito.

It also leaves one to wonder how many more heights can Pacquiao reach before some degree of reality sets in? As was mentioned above, it has been a storybook run that Pacquiao has been on in recent years. As he now sits firmly atop the sport of boxing as the No. 1 fighter in the world, we are left to wonder how many more times can Pacquiao increase the physical size and skillful pedigree of his opponent and still emerge victorious?

In 2006 after Pacquiao became the first fighter to stop Eric Morales at 130 pounds, what would one have thought had an omnipotent voice whispered in their ear that Pacquiao would soon capture a lightweight and light welterweight title by one-punch knockout only to go on to challenge Miguel Cotto for a welterweight world title?

That may have sounded sensational and crazy, yet here we are. In each of his last fights we expected to see Manny Pacquiao challenged by the size and strength of his opponents. Many picked Oscar De La Hoya to stop Pacquiao, and the same rang true before Pacquiao’s challenge against Ricky Hatton. It seemed certain that we would see Pacquiao tested by bigger punches from bigger men, yet in recollection I can’t remember either of those larger fighters even touching Pacquiao with anything significant.

What will happen if and when Miguel Cotto unleashes a fast and thudding welterweight sized combo at Pacquiao’s chin? With Cotto’s speed and skill he is indeed much more likely to land something significant on Pacquiao than his previous two opponents. Should this happen it will be the first time since Juan Manuel Marquez connected hard and often on Pacquiao (in early 2008 at 130 pounds) that Manny’s whiskers will be tested.

Up this high in weight, this is trial by fire. Although it’s a sentiment we’ve heard for Pacquiao’s last few fights, it does deserve to be asked again. What will happen when Pacquiao eats a full fledged welterweight punch? Despite the fact it hasn’t happened yet, it will sooner or later. With Miguel Cotto set to engage Pacquiao this November, the smart money is on sooner.

Should Pacquiao lose to Miguel Cotto, there would be no shame to ensue. With the span of divisions Pacquiao has successfully navigated the notion of finally losing to a ‘better’ man becomes somewhat blurred. At this point it may ultimately come down to finally falling short against a ‘bigger’ man.

However, many Fight Fans firmly entrenched on the Pacquiao express will tell you Cotto will just be another victim in the wake of Hurricane Manny… and they might just be right. Pacquiao’s speed will be unlike anything Cotto has ever seen, and while Joshua Clottey had success in spurts overwhelming Cotto with power punches, it is safe to say that Pacquiao’s offense is more than capable of producing the same result.

That aside, I can’t help but be reminded of the adage that ‘what goes up must come down’. Many things from the laws of physics to the law of averages suggest that Pacquiao’s historic run will come to an impasse sooner or later. Miguel Cotto very well may be that road block. If he isn’t, and ‘The Pacman’ lives to fight another day perhaps the greatest chapter in his story is yet to be written. It is an exciting time in boxing nonetheless. Pacquiao is currently penning his own story, and it is history in the making.

Source: http://fightfan.com/2009/07/will-pacquiaos-astonishing-rise-stop-with-miguel-cotto/

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