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Friday, October 9, 2009

Pacquiao and Cotto - Face to Face

HBO has released the longer version of their “Face Off” hype piece for Pacquiao/Cotto, and it’s well worth watching. As I said before I love the set-up; it’s either something out of the dark ages – a pre-industrial morality play – or a post-apocalyptic step towards madness, like a low-budget German remake of “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.”

Of course, the participants don’t quite take it as far as they might have. Neither Cotto nor Pacquiao are anything other than polite. But I think it still works. It’s impossible to expect more from them, in that their personalities and limited language skills preclude the sort of outrageous chest beating I find particularly appealing. Nevertheless, we get as sense of the competitiveness and underlying confidence of each man.

Cotto and Pacquiao have different kinds of self-belief. Cotto has a touch of contempt and sadism to the way he fights, his stoic demeanor belying the satisfaction he feels when applying the hurt on an opponent. If you watch his fights against overmatched opposition – guys like Jennings and Gomez – you get the feeling that he is prolonging the process, allowing the wave of superiority and brutal control wash over him. It is a cruel sport, and he seems to enjoy the cruelty.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, has the demeanor of the holy fool. Not that he is unintelligent, but he is so in the moment in the ring that any sort of doubt or psychological depth is simply not applicable. He has cast his lot to fate, and he might as well enjoy himself while he is in there.

So while I don’t feel we get much heat from the video, I thought it was illuminating just to see them opposite one another. It is easy to tell yourself that Cotto is bigger, but after four minutes of footage I felt it actually start to sink in that Cotto is genuinely the more massive human being. While their measurements are similar, Cotto has a thickness of musculature that Pacquiao can’t match. Part of this is a product of Pacquiao’s thick legs, he is bottom heavy, but particularly at the end of the video the disparity becomes quite clear.

We all know Cotto is going to come into the ring a good ten pounds heavier than Manny, but to see that weight in the shoulders and forearms is a little intimidating. Their body types remind me a bit of the matches between Mosley and Vargas. Mosley had the thin waist and V-shaped torso while Vargas had the dense musculature that ran all through his upper body.

Mosley was able to use his speed and power to pick apart his larger opponent, but it was not particularly easy, even given Vargas’ deteriorated state. I think Manny has the tools to do the same against the much more lively Cotto, but it’s going to be an enormous task.

Source: http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/The_Rumble/entry/view/38373/pacquiao_and_cotto_-_face_to_face

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