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Monday, November 9, 2009

Pacquiao Watch: Will Cotto’s legs hold up?

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by Edwin Espejo

With just days to go before Miguel Angel Cotto tips the scales for the official weigh-in schedule Friday (Saturday in Manila) for his welterweight title defence against Manny Pacquiao, all eyes are now trained on how the Puerto Rican champion will handle the contracted weight issue.

Up until last week, Cotto was still donning a sweat jacket during training, indicating his battle with the scales is far from over. Ideally, Cotto should be near the 148-149 mark a week before the weigh-in to enable him to rehydrate to his fighting weight, estimated at 156 pounds on fight night.

Most dieticians and conditioning experts are of the opinion that a boxer should not balloon by more than 10 per cent of his contracted weight on fight night.

Cotto could be a lumbering mass if he will carry a 160-pound body weight on November 14 (November 15 in most of Asia). His calves, officially measured at 12 inches, are three inches smaller than Pacquiao’s. On paper, that portion of the tale of the tape is offset by his bigger thighs and upper body girth.

But wear and tear could exact their toll on those calves carrying a huge upper body mass and the longer the fight with Manny wears on, Cotto’s legs will betray him.

Three of Cotto’s five fights against quality opponents went at least 11 rounds. Against Shane Mosley and Joshua Clottey, Cotto faded in the home stretch and only an early lead allowed him to escape with decision victories. But against Antonio Margarito, he took a knee after absorbing heavy punches in the later rounds.

So why are we looking at this angle in dissecting this year’s biggest pay-per-view event?

Forget about the first-round knockout which Pacquiao coach Freddie Roach predicted early on. That would only come if a window of opportunity comes at the opening bell.

Manny will show Cotto different angles and will throw punches from different directions to confuse the Puerto Rican. If Cotto won't come charging at him, Manny will pick him up using his ringsmanship and speed. He knows the longer the fight goes on, Cotto’s stamina will be suspect after coming down in weight.

Pacquiao has learned this lesson from previous fights where he dehydrated himself dry. When he lost via knockout to Thailand’s Singsurat Medgeon following his failure to tip the scale, Manny was so emaciated he could no longer even shed a tear.

When he fought Juan Manuel Marquez at 130 pounds, he was so pale and thin he almost looked like a ghost. He climbed into the ring at 143 pounds the following night and that obviously slowed him down, making him an easy target for Marquez’s accurate counterpunching. Only a knockdown in the third round allowed Manny to capture the lightweight crown from Marquez via a close split decision.

Cotto is technically inferior to Manny.

While he showed he can box with the likes of Mosley and Clottey, his footwork is simply not enough against Manny’s speed. Cotto’s lateral movement is also average and that should be foremost in Roach’s mind and instructions to Pacquiao.

At his age and late stage of his career, Cotto could no longer transform himself into a boxer overnight. All he can hope is to cut the ring and slow down Manny by digging into the Filipino’s suspect body.

He can do it with his left hooks but they way he telegraphs them will only open himself to Manny’s counter right hooks and lighting fast left straights.

Cotto could also throw away the thought of waiting for Manny to commit a mistake.

He has to pressure Manny and land the first big punch to gain the Filipino’s respect and fear. But will his legs go the whole nine yards, so to speak, against the mercurial Filipino speedster?

How will you do it, Miguel? Tell us, please.

Source: http://asiancorrespondent.com/edwin-espejo/pacquiao-watch:-will-cotto%E2%80%99s-legs.htm

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