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Monday, November 9, 2009

Charting the Pacquiao-Cotto Timeline

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Las Vegas Boxing Examiner | Chris Robinson
When Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto enter this ring this Saturday, November 14th it will definitely be a sight to see. For two men who have spent so much of their careers fighting two or three weight classes apart, this is a bout that very few could have envisioned happening up until recently. Even with less than a week to go the showdown still seems a little bit surreal in many regards.

Recently I spoke with boxing manager Cameron Dunkin, who looks over the careers of such fighters as Kelly Pavlik, Timothy Bradley, Nonito Donaire and many others, and he seemed almost baffled as to how a Pacquiao-Cotto showdown could come about. Elaborately further, Dunkin said it had to take a ‘weird turn of events’ for these two fighters to come together.

Whether weird or not, the Pacquiao-Cotto encounter is most certainly a reality and everything will transpire on the 14th. Pacquiao has shown with his recent victories over larger men in Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton that he has the ability to compete at a higher weight class. Those two performances were impressive enough to the point where Pacquiao is a clear favorite going in against Cotto, at least according to the odds makers.

With so much still to discuss and anticipate concerning the bout I decided to take a trip back in time when these two fighters roamed in weight classes well away from one another. In taking a look back at how their careers have unfolded I think it’s safe to say that very few people could ever have imagined them linking up like they are about to.

On January 22nd, 1995 Pacquiao made his professional debut with a four round decision over Edmund Enting Ignacio in Mindoro Occidental, Philippines. At the time Cotto was an aspiring fourteen year old amateur in Puerto Rico still years away from his first professional fight.

Pacquiao would continue to build up his record in the Philippines but would unexpectedly suffer a knockout loss to Rustico Torrecamp in his twelfth professional fight on February 9th, 1996. Undaunted the General Santos City fighter pushed forward, eventually winning the WBC Flyweight title against Chatchai Sasakul in December of 1998. With a 24-1 record with 15 knockouts Pacquiao was a champion at the young age of 19.

In July of 1999 Cotto would represent Puerto Rico in the 1999 Pan American Games, where he would lose to Dana Laframboise of Canada by a 5-2 score. A few months later Pacquiao was surprisingly dealt his second loss, this time to Medgoen Singsurat, by way of 3rd round KO and it became clear that a move up in weight was necessary for the Filipino.

Cotto competed in the 2000 Summer Olympics, where he would end up losing a points decision to Muhammad Abdullaev in September. A month later Pacquiao would capture the WBC International Super Bantamweight title with a tenth round stoppage of Australian Nedal Hussein.

On February 23rd, 2001 Cotto would make his professional debut in Austin, Texas with a fist round stoppage over Jason Doucet. At the time Pacquiao was already much further along in his career and just one day later on February 24th he would improve his record to 31-2 with 22 stoppages by stopping Tetsutora Senrima in Antipolo City.

Pacquiao’s well documented debut on American soil took place on June 23rd, 2001 against then IBF Super Bantamweight champion Lehlohonolo Ledwaba. Pacquiao would bust the champion with ripping body shots on his way towards a sixth round stoppage. Eight days later Cotto would move his record to 5-0 with a fourth round stoppage over Rudolfo Lunsford in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

On June 8th, 2002 Pacquiao would successfully defend his IBF belt by brutally carving up Jorge Eliecer Julio in two rounds on the Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson undercard in Memphis, Tennessee. Two weeks laterCotto would face the first name opponent on his record as he dominated former title challenger Justin Juuko in five one sided stanzas to improve to 10-0 with 8 knockouts. The bout took place underneath the rematch between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales at the MGM Grand.

Pacquiao’s next two fights would take place in the Philippines, as he won both by knockout. Meanwhile Cotto continued to improve by besting former title challenger John ‘The Beast’ Brown, journeyman Ubaldo Hernandez, and former champion Cesar Bazan. Pacquiao would easily stop Emmanuel Lucero on July 26th, 2003 in Los Angeles, California underneath Fernando Vargas’ thrashing of Fitz Vanderpool. By this time both men were beginning to make a name for themselves on HBO television. Pacquiao as a champion to look out for and Cotto as a one of the can’t-miss prospects in the sport.

On November 15th, 2003 Pacquiao would take a dangerous step up in weight and competition by challenging Marco Antonio Barrera at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Pacquiao would go on to conquer Barrera with speed and power in a breakout performance as he registered an 11th round TKO. Three weeks later Cotto would improve his record to 18-0 with 15 stoppages by dismantling Carlos Maussa in eight systematic rounds.

On May 8th, 2004 the two men would fight on the same card for the first and only time in their careers. In the main event Pacquiao would drop champion Juan Manuel Marquez three times in the first round but have to settle for a draw after the Mexico City fighter settled down and adjusted. On the undercard Cotto improved to 20-0 with 16 knockouts by winning a hard fought decision over Australian Lovemore N’dou.

On February 26th, 2005, Cotto would find himself in a bit of danger as he was caught with a clean punch and dazed by former champion DeMarcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley while headlining a card in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Miguel would turn the tables and stop Corley in fifth, successfully defending his WBO Jr. Welterweight belt. Three weeks later Pacquiao would suffer another setback in his career after dropping a unanimous decision to the great Erik Morales after twelve entertaining rounds.

Pacquiao would take some time away from the sport and eventually return by stopping well traveled Hector Velazquez in the sixth round at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on September 10th, 2005. Two weeks later Cotto would get dropped for the first time in his career as he went life and death with Columbian puncher Ricardo Torres in Atlantic City. Cotto would end up winning by way of 7th round TKO in one of the year’s wildest fights.

One of Pacquiao’s finest wins came on January 21st, 2006 when he got his revenge against Erik Morales with a 10th round stoppage. The bout was back and forth early but Pacquiao took control in the sixth round and didn’t look back. Six weeks later Cotto would again defend his WBO strap by halting Gianluca Branco in eight one-sided rounds in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

Pacquiao closed out 2006 by winning a decision over Oscar Larios in the Philippines and stopping Morales in their rubbermatch in November at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Cotto pulled out a tough decision over Paulie Malignaggi in June at Madison Square Garden and closed the year out by moving up in weight and capturing the WBA Welterweight title with a 5th round stoppage over Carlos Quintana in Atlantic City.

2007 was a very busy year for Cotto as he successfully defended his belt against the likes of Oktay Urkal, Zab Judah, and Shane Mosley. Cotto was workmanlike against Urkal and had to overcome a few rocky moments early before taking control against Judah in Madison Square Garden. His bout with Mosley was hotly contested and could have probably gone either way. Pacquiao’s 2007 was less memorable as he stopped Jorge Solis in San Antonio, Texas in April and won his rematch against Marco Antonio Barrera in October by way of unanimous decision.

Pacquiao’s first fight in 2008 was another wild affair, as he pulled out a split decision against Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas on March 15th. The bout was full of ebbs and flows and a third round knockdown helped Manny pull out the win. A little under a month later Cotto would get back to work by bruising up Alfonso Gomez for a fifth round stoppage at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

On June 28th, 2008 Pacquiao moved up in weight to challenge for David Diaz’ WBC Lightweight belt. Pacquiao looked very sharp in this contest as he bludgeoned the Chicago native with power shots from all angles. The bout would wisely be halted in the ninth round. Four weeks later Cotto would suffer the first loss of his career in brutal fashion as he was overwhelmed by Antonio Margarito, surrendering by way of 11th round TKO. Cotto fought very well early on but couldn’t cope with Margarito’s power or pressure late in the fight. Margarito would later be caught with elements of plaster of paris in his hand wraps before his following bout against Shane Mosley in January of 2009. That finding raised suspicion that the Tijuana fighter possibly cheated against Cotto as well and it also changed people’s perceptions of the Puerto Rican’s only defeat.

Pacquiao made huge news by again moving up in weight to challenge Oscar De La Hoya on December 6th, 2008 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pacquiao shocked the boxing world on this night by befuddling his older foe with movement and beating him to the punch the entire night. De La Hoya retired on his stool following the eighth round. Cotto would take his time before returning following the Margarito loss as he bounced back with a fifth round stoppage over Michael Jennings at Madison Square Garden on February 21st, 2009.

On May 2nd of this year Pacquiao demolished Ricky Hatton, leaving the Brit unconscious after a wicked left hand. Pacquiao was in control throughout and looked noticeably sharp. The following month Cotto would go life and death with Ghana’s Joshua Clottey at Madison Square Garden. Despite suffering a nasty gash about his left eye, Cotto would gut out the victory through his volume of punches and work to the body. Despite pulling out the win over a worthy challenger there were still whispers that Miguel hasn’t recovered fully from the loss to Margarito.

That leaves us to where were are today in the present tense, where everyone will be eyeing the date of November 14th when both men will set foot inside of the ropes to square off with one another. After looking back on their careers you can see that both men may have been guided along carefully at first, but they have shown a complete willingness towards facing the best available competition in recent years.

The Pacquiao-Cotto timeline reflects on two different fighters from varying backgrounds, both with championship aspirations in hand every step of the way. Each man has had their share of stories up until this point and their pairing is soon to be a reality. While not many would have seen this coming years ago I think nearly everyone is grateful that these two are finally crossing paths with one another. Surely it will be a night to remember.

Source: http://www.examiner.com/x-22973-Las-Vegas-Boxing-Examiner~y2009m11d9-Charting-the-PacquiaoCotto-Timeline?#comments

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Manny Pacquiao Profiles, Statistics and Records
Miguel Cotto Profiles, Statistics and Records