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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Boxing Bookie Picks Cotto-Pacquiao... Puts "Title" on the Line

Pacquiao vs Cotto Online Live Streaming
by John Chavez

Nov 11, 2009 -
Let me preface this fight breakdown by clearly stating that both Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto are amongst the most exciting, crowd-pleasing fighters of this era. Both of these fury-filled warriors lay it out there all on the line each and everytime out in order to give their adoring crowds more than their money's worth. Boxing is a better sport because of these two hard-punching, non-clinching professionals. (For those looking for additional adrenaline rush hype regarding this fight, check out these two trailer videos... Callatonic / Gorilla.)

Having given both men their just due as ridiculously entertaining fighters... "The Boxing Bookie" has no favorites when it comes to breaking down fights as the only favored outcome is the "greenery".

When betting on a brawl, skewed perceptions don't exist as the only thing that matters in the end is claiming one's winning ticket.

Well in this case... I will be putting up my "Boxing Bookie" fighter-picker title on the line against long-time boxing comrade now-turned nemesis, Joseph DeMaria of Fighthype.com. Just to give you a little bit of history on this unofficial title bout between myself and this fellow known as "JD", we've discussed and broken down fights both online and on the telephone for about 6 or 7 years now and rarely disagree on the potential outcome of a prize fight. In fact, the last time we were both vehemently on opposing sides of an argument was for the Jermain Taylor-Wrinky Wright bout back in June of 2006. I was backing "Bad Intentions" in the bout and "JD" as backing Wright. Somehow, someway the fight ended in a draw that seemed quite fitting for two guys that had argued tooth and nail for several months prior to the bout actually taking place.

This scenario is different and victory will not be denied for "The Boxing Bookie" as I fully expect to retain my title and receive a full apology letter from "JD" in the process.

Going into this Saturday night's undoubtedly hellacious battle... numerous experts, celebrities, athletes, and knowledgeable fight fans have chimed in on how they feel the fight is going to play out based on their visual breakdowns of both combatants past performances.

Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao is the Elvis Presley, Michael Jordan, and "Bozo the Clown" of the Phillippines all rolled into one famous celebrity persona. Okay... perhaps not "Bozo the Clown" as that is Michael Marley's famous counterpart but it always amuses me to rile up the panties of the die-hard "Pacman" fanatics. This crazed, hard-punching southpaw is currently riding a ten-fight win streak with seven of them coming by way of knockout or TKO victory. It is impressive to say the least and even has the mainstream boxing fan buzzing in anticipation as to who Manny's next victim might be.

It's amazing to these eyes that a little over one year ago, the Filipino phenom was competing at the super featherweight limit of 130 pounds. Prior to the "Pacman's" nip and tuck affair with Juan Manuel Marquez in March of 2008, he would face off against Mexican superstar, Marco Antonio Barrera in a fight that was not exactly considered one for the ages in October of 2007. "The Baby Face Assassin" would refuse to consistently engage with his arch rival leading to a wide, decision victory for the Filipino sensation. It is a perfect example of how difficult it can be for a knockout artist to perform their duties when their opponent is unwilling to cooperate in the task at hand.

In Pacquiao's 3 most recent performances, he squared off against three naturally bigger opponents who felt as though their size and strength advantages alone would be enough to overcome Manny's precision combination punching and speed. It is a strategy that obviously didn't pay off for David Diaz, Oscar De la Hoya, or Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton. Fighters and the public must remember, this is a boxing match, not a wrestling match and strength is nothing in this game if you're not able to effectively land your punches.

You can't "out-muscle" or "out-size" a guy to death in a boxing ring.

Attempting to walk the Filipino superstar down and merely swinging for the fences is a stupid gameplan that only a moronic team would attempt to employ from this point on.

If anything, Marquez and Barrera showcased that employing alot of tactical backwards and side-to-side movement would allow a Pacquiao opponent to survive the distance if not allow openings for effective countering throughout the fight.

Nevertheless, Manny Pacquiao truly shocked the boxing world in December of 2008 with his huge, huge upset demolition over the much larger "Golden Boy" in Oscar De la Hoya. Only a few boxing pundits deemed as dellusional would give the former flyweight champion a chance against the founder of Golden Boy Promotions. De la Hoya was deemed as too much in every sense of the word and oddsmakers had listed the Mexican superstar as a solid 3-1 betting favorite over the smaller "Pacman". For those of you that don't remember, live on BoxingConfidential radio, yours truly would predict Manny's shocking stoppage victory being that it was quite apparent to these eyes that Oscar was no longer the prime competitor of old coupled with Pacquiao's fighting spirit being at an all-time high.

This past year's Cinco De Mayo weekend, the pound-for-pound most exciting fighter in the world would embarrass Ricky Hatton in just two short rounds leaving the British contingent both in Las Vegas and across the world with their mouths gaping at what had transpired. Going into the spectacle that was "The Battle of East and West", the hype had apparently caught up to the fight fans as there were quite a few dellusional "experts" that felt "The Hitman" had what it took to deal with the repertoire of the "Beast from the Far East". Once again... yours truly would pick correctly by betting on the "under" of the bout knowing that Hatton's chin and punch sustainability was no longer what it once was. Fluctuating one's fighting weight usually always leads to a fighter's chin being compromised as the effects of weight drain are magnified. It was evident from his bouts with Luis Collazo, Juan Urango, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Juan Lazcano that Hatton could definitely be hit and hurt by anyone with a decent left hand. I for one never bought into this supposed new and improved Ricky Hatton under the tutelage of Floyd Mayweather Sr.

The outcome of Hatton-Pacquiao... while being a definite highlight reel-type of knockout, was not exactly shocking to "The Boxing Bookie".

Now let us take a look at this hard-punching Puerto Rican named Miguel Angel Cotto.

Cotto started his career off in 2001 at the 140 pound limit showcasing his ability to box & punch with great accuracy and destructive results. While there was nothing excessively flashy about the naturally left-handed fighter, it was evident that the strength of his punches resulted in a lasting effect to the head and body of his victims. I was never particularly impressed with Miguel as he slowly climbed up the ranks and slowly increased his level of competition.

His bout against South African fighter Lovemore N'dou would be showcased on HBO World Championship Boxing on the undercard of the first bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. It was this bout that seemingly left much to be desired about Miguel being that he struggled with the durable, but limited N'dou while appearing to fade late. There were rumors flying around inner boxing circles that Cotto would never make it to the mountain top that was initially planned for the Puerto Rican fighter. There were numerous boxing fans that felt Cotto wasn't taking his career seriously and was struggling with making the junior welterweight limit spending too much living the good life on his native island.

It's somewhere around this time frame in Cotto's career where a major turning point occurred.

Later that year in 2004, Miguel would face off against amateur boxing rival, Kelson Pinto... a fighter who had defeated Cotto twice in the amatuers. There were many that felt as though the Brazilian in Pinto would duplicate his success in the professional ranks giving an unfocused Cotto the first loss of his career.

Cotto-Pinto was brutality at it's finest as there would only be one undefeated top level prospect left at the end of six rounds and that would be the Puerto Rican power puncher.

Following the Kelson Pinto bout, Cotto would destroy the veteran knockout artist Randall Bailey in six rounds and square off against southpaw slickster, spoiler, Demarcus "Chop Chop" Corley. The Washington D.C. native in Corley was at one point considered the number one contender to Kostya Tszyu's undisputed junior welterweight title until having been defeated in competitive losses to Zab "Super" Judah and Floyd Mayweather Jr. For those of you that don't remember, Demarcus was the only fighter in the professional ranks to have severely hurt and stunned "The Pretty Boy" in their May 22, 2004 bout.

I remember at the time of Cotto-Corley thinking that the Top Rank prospect would face off against a problematic opponent with underrated handspeed, slickness, and ring intelligence. This coupled with the perception that Miguel had reached the end of his ability to make the 140 pound weight limit without causing problems to his punch resistance and endurance down the stretch led me to believe that problems would be evident in the hometown fighter's performance. My prediction would not be denied as Corley exuded a high level of professionalism early on while rolling with Cotto's hard shots and landing some short counters including a right hook that left the undefeated fighter in a daze for a good majority of the third round. But like the consummate professional, the heavy-handed Miguel would come roaring back negating his arsenal to the head and instead focusing on the body of the American fighter stopping him in 5 rounds.

This fight started to get me believing in Cotto as most prospects can look like two million bucks when facing inferior opponents but until they overcome adversary, you never really know how they might react. The fact that Miguel was able to maintain his composure and recover from being wobbled early led me to think that we might have a potential superstar on our hands.

The Caguas-born fighter's next bout is the fight that truly opened my eyes to the talent that was and I believe still is Miguel Angel Cotto.

At this point in time, I believed that it was horrible match-making on Top Rank's part matching Cotto up against the last man to have defeated him in a boxing ring... Muhammed Abdullaev. For those of you that don't know or care to remember, Abdullaev was an Olympic Gold Medalist at the 2000 Sydney games, the same Olympics in which he would defeat Cotto.

This rugged knockout artist of Uzbekistan descent was tearing through the professional rankings until he experienced a slight hiccup against the hard-headed Emmanuel Clottey. In that bout, Muhammed would dominate the African fighter pounding him over the course of ten rounds until getting clipped by a left-hook in which he took a knee to recover but due to some corner confusion, didn't stand up quickly enough to beat the count resulting in an unwarranted KO victory for Clottey. Abdullaev would bounce back stopping three of his next four opponents leading up to his showdown with Cotto.

I remember thinking prior to Cotto-Abdullaev... if Cotto is having any issues making 140 pounds, Muhammad would bring them to light and stop this guy inside the distance.

In what I consider to be Miguel's most ground-breaking performance at 140 pounds, Cotto would go on to mutilate his former conqueror over the course of 9 rounds. The Puerto Rican would put together a strong display of boxing skills utilizing great footwork, side to side movement, and heavy combination punching with his back against the ropes to frustrate and reconfigure the face of the 2000 Gold Medalist. It suprised me that Muhammed would pull a "no mas" in that bout being that there have been so many absolute warriors from that proud region of Europe. It also opened my eyes to the fact that Miguel Cotto had more dimensions to his game than merely over-powering his opponents in a fire-fight.

Little did I know what hell Cotto would go through in his next bout to once again raise even more questions as to the stability of this potential great future champion.

Miguel Cotto vs. Ricardo Torres was yet more hellish match-making on the part of Top Rank as the only thing that the American public knew about the Columbian is that he had an undefeated record and could apparently punch like a hippopautumus chomps. It was definitely "Fight of the Year" candidate as both men put each other on the canvas multiple times until Cotto would once again use his ring intelligence to focus on Ricardo's body stopping him in the seventh round of a true and all-out war. This bout answered the question that many lightly matched prospects will never answer until it's too late... can this guy pick himself up off the canvas and find a way to win?

The answer was yes, yes, and yes.

However, the fact that Cotto continued to compete at the 140 pound limit while it was more than quite apparent that it was taking a severe toll on his body worried me.

Luckily, Miguel would fight only two more times at the junior welterweight limit and would then make the much more comfortable trek up to the full welterweight division.

While not having to drain one's body to make an artificially lower weight can be great for a prize fighter's body, a different set of problematic instances arise when making the trek up such as dealing with the size and reach advantage of an opponent in addition to not having that ultimate equalizer in the punching power edge experienced at the lower weight.

In any case, Cotto would make his first appearance at 147 pounds against Puerto Rican rival, the then undefeated Carlos "El Indio" Quintana. It was a fight in which many boxing insiders had felt was too much, too soon for Miguel as Quintana had solidified himself as a legitimate life-long welterweight contender especially after his upset victory over the undefeated, power-punching Joel Julio. The odds were close for this fight as Quintana was listed as merely a 2-1 underdog leading many to believe that this dog was more than live.

I don't know what happened in that fight but in my eyes it looked as though Miguel had finally snapped and was able to use the many criticisms as a motivator to make a statement that his ship had finally arrived and that he would not be denied in any way, shape, or form.

That December 2, 2006 I wasn't able to catch the fight live due to my bartending job at the time but when I arrived home to catch the replay... I was more than shocked to see how easily Cotto seemed to walk through his fellow Puerto Rican simply "beasting" him in the process. It looked as though everything had finally come together at the right time as Cotto's ability to absorb a punch had improved at 147 pounds in addition to his stamina, work-rate, and overall professionalism having reached it's pinnacle. Along with these tangible factors of a fighter's game... Miguel Cotto looked just plain destructive that night.

Since crashing the welterweight party in 2002, this Puerto Rican has displayed a great calmness in the ring and has shown a versatility to box, brawl, counter-punch, and just plain fight. His bout with Antonio Margarito in July of last year was the first loss of his career and has many boxing fans wondering if Miguel is the same fighter he once was. Just for the record... I am 100 percent convinced that "The Tijuana Cheater" utilized illegal handwraps on that fateful evening as the welts and cuts that formed on Cotto's face seemed very unnatural. For some of you that remember, in 2003 Bernard "The Executioner" Hopkins mutilated the hell out of former middleweight title-holder, William Joppy but even in that grotesque display, there was a lacking of the blood and gore of Cotto-Margarito.

Something was just not right that fateful July night...

Regardless of whether Team Margarito utilized illegal substances to harden their punching weapons, the question that abounds in abundance is... is Miguel Cotto "shot" from that hellacious beating he took in their classic welterweight battle?

I'd have to lean to... yes.

There's no question that that type of beating will take something out of any mammal as it was extremely physically and to a greater extent mentally damaging. The fact that the Mexican was found with tampered wraps prior to his bout with Shane Mosley might have softened the mental blow and over time the physical damage has probably subsided but there's no doubt that the after effects of such a beating can still linger in the body and mind of even the most hardened warrior.

The greater question as it pertains to this Saturday is whether Miguel Cotto still has enough in the tank to deal with this streaking superstar known as Manny Pacquiao.

Based on the two fights following the Margarito bout, I'd have to say undeniably... YES!

Had Miguel Cotto struggled with the non-descript Michael Jennings, I would obviously be singing a much different tune. If he was not able to eek out an extremely competitive decision victory against the highly underrated and more than rugged Joshua Clottey, I'd be betting the farm, mules, and monkeys on the "Pacman" in this fight. Unfortunately for the millions of "Pacman" supporters, backers, bettors, and Joseph "JD" DeMaria... Miguel Cotto has alot more dimensions and depth to himself than the public would have you believe.

First and foremost, I would pick Joshua Clottey to beat any fighter of this era coming up from 140 pounds to the welterweight division. Secondly, I would pick Joshua Clottey to defeat most of the top welterweights around in addition to giving Floyd Mayweather Jr. a serious run for his money. The Ghanan fighter is just that good.

Does he have the biggest ticker in the sport? Probably not.

However, "The Hitter" does possess some very quick hands, fast feet, short punch delivery, extremely tight defense, and lightning quick reflexes that pose problems for any fighter from 154 pounds on down. Even prior to Cotto-Margarito, I would have picked Clottey to give Cotto all he could handle every day of the week and three times on Tuesday. Call me crazy... I've been called much worse... but the African is just that good.

Having went off course with that rant... now we must breakdown the effective gameplan of what Miguel Cotto must execute come Saturday night.

I will keep it extremely simple.

There are 2 key punches that Cotto must tactically throw and throw them with bad intentions.

One is his heavy, fiddler-crab claw-like left jab. If you can keep Manny Pacquiao thinking and at bay with a strong stick, you take away his perceived dynamic abilities. Pacquiao is no thinker in there... he is a "do'er". Re-watch Pacquiao-De la Hoya round 3 to understand what I'm referring to. For as great a physical specimen that Manny most definitely is, he is no Albert Einstein in terms of ring intelligence. I've yet to see his true ability to adapt within a tactically-based prize fight.

Second is... Cotto must look to counter Pacquiao's left hand with either a right or left uppercut underneath. Most of Pacquiao's opponents look to counter or land over the top with right hands and left hooks but the "Pacman" has become relatively adept at weaving under and around them in order to remain out of harms way. For those that recall, Erik Morales utilized the uppercut in their first prize fight and used it with great precision when he threw it. Cotto has a very nice left uppercut that is extremely effective against southpaws.

Now for the overall gampelan...

Cotto needs to fight completely defensive for the first 3 rounds utilizing alot of backwards and side to side movement forcing Pacquiao to "box" and press the action. These opening frames will allow Miguel to adjust to Manny's quick hand release, punch delivery, and foot movements. I'm not stating that the Puerto Rican should do his best David Haye impression against Nicolai Valuev early on, I'm merely stating that it will take several rounds to adjust to Manny's physical abilities. Cotto needs to keep his hands high, utilize a strong jab and keep himself moving early on to avoid getting caught up in the hype of the crowd frenzy. Slowing down the pace early is a tactic that Pacquiao can fall prey to as we saw against both Marquez and Barrera.

By the mid-rounds Cotto should be able to box and brawl in spurts in order to put the pain on Manny making him feel the what it's like to face off against a legitimate welterweight puncher.

Several key aspects of Manny's game that seem evident based on his past performances are the facts that A) Manny prefers to punch at an upward target with his left hand. There's a certain awkwardness with this punch delivery that occurs when he's forced to punch at shoulder height and lower. This favors Cotto as he tends to fight low, bending out of a crouch-like position. B) The "Pacman" doesn't throw the right hook when pressing forward. You can take away this addition to his arsenal by merely boxing going side to side and backwards. Where was this vaunted right hook in the Marquez fight? Don't give me that bullshit of such vast improvements in 2 or 3 fights this late in his career. I don't buy it. C) Manny has effectively stopped the bigger "name" opponents in Hatton and De la Hoya in recent times which can lead to an overly skewed perception of a fighter's ability. While not being comparable in terms of financial compensation, I'd be less likely to pick Cotto against the "Pacman" had Manny defeated fighters such as Humberto Soto and Timothy Bradley being that both men are at the top of their divisions and in their physical primes.

Boxing's buzz has largely been built on popularity and hype.

Manny Pacquiao has rightfully deserved every accolade he's ever received from everybody with the scalps of fighters such as Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, "Hands of Stone" Ledwaba, Oscar Larios, Oscar De la Hoya, and Ricky Hatton. Unfortunately this fight is simply too much for the talented lightweight/junior welterweight fighter.

There's a limit to what even the greatest fighter in the world can do and at this point in time, defeating a motivated Miguel Cotto at 145 pounds is just that limit.

Miguel Cotto has stopped his top 3 southpaw opponents inside the distance.

This fight could get ugly as many people forget, Cotto would mangle many of his smaller opponents leaving them physically destroyed from the top to the bottom. This fight is more than just size playing a role... it's the Puerto Rican's opportunity to achieve true greatness and I believe that he will use every facet of his professional and amateur career to box, brawl, and fight his way to an eye-opening performance.

Just for the record... it's nothing personal against or for either fighter, I'm merely stating my case on why I believe one fighter will end up victorious over the other. Truth be told... Miguel Cotto might possibly ruin the biggest "REAL" super fight of this decade in Mayweather-Pacquiao if he would dethrone the "Pacman" which might not be all that great for boxing. Irrelevant of that factor, may the best man win!

I shot first "JD"... now it's your turn to retaliate my friend. (Visit Fighthype.com for his breakdown which will be coming out on Friday)

PS. The play is $2000 on Miguel Cotto to dethrone Manny Pacquiao at the odds of +250. The winnings will be $5000. Should Pacquiao pull off what I consider to be the upset victory, I will be the first to eat a crow burrito and announce it on Sunday's Boxing Truth Radio at 6pm Pacific Standard Time.

PPS. If Manny Pacquiao is indeed a mini-Mike Tyson... Miguel Cotto is his Evander Holyfield.

Source: http://www.theboxingtruth.com/article.php?id=1216

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