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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Puerto Rico vs. the Philippines Final Round: Pacquiao vs. Cotto!

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By Luis Torres (11-Nov-2009)

Luis Torres takes a look at the last installment of title fights between Puerto Rico and the Philippines this year, which is capped off with the mega bout between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto!

A highly unusual string of three championship fights in a period of three months, matching high caliber fighters from both nations, started last September. After splitting victories with Sonsona over Lopez and Calderon over Mayol, Miguel Cotto vs. Manny Pacquiao, the third and final round of this unofficial championship series, will be the tie breaker, and a tie breaker between each nation’s top fighter at that.

When I first heard about the possibility of a match between Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao I took it as just a rumor; a lot of hot air. I remember thinking, “Roach knows better than that.” Nevertheless, this Saturday we get the chance to see the rumor become history. How was that possible? The answer is simple — that Roach is a wise cat!

The acclaimed trainer and architect of the masterpiece that has become the Filipino idol’s career scandalized the boxing world when he not only announced that his pupil would fight Oscar De La Hoya but that he would knock him out. There were many people both within and outside boxing, including Miguel Cotto, who questioned the seriousness of the matchup. “Pacquiao is too small; that fight is no good for boxing” some said. “That fight is too dangerous for Manny,” said others. The result is now well known and it was followed by another demolishing victory this time against Britain’s Ricky Hatton at 140 pounds.

The next “victim” is Puerto Rican champion Miguel Cotto whom the vast majority of the boxing world has tagged as the underdog. Without taking anything away from the 122 to 135 pounds Manny Pacquiao, I invite you to take a look behind the smoke and mirrors so we can have a clearer idea of what we can expect come November 14.

There were many reasons why Roach decided it was a good idea to challenge De la Hoya, weight being the obvious factor. De la Hoya probably thought that his physical advantages would be enough to get by the ‘Pacman’ even knowing it would take a miracle for him to perform at 100 percent at a weight he hadn’t visited in years. Pacquiao hit the ‘Golden Boy’ with everything but the stool and De la Hoya himself has said that during the fight he got to a point where all he wanted was for Pacquiao to land a finishing blow that would put him out of his misery. After the fight, Roach declared that they would campaign at junior welter; that the welterweight venture was a one night stand.

As planned, the ‘Pacman’ returned to junior welter, scoring an impressive knock-out victory over Ricky Hatton.

It should be noted that Hatton had been knocked out impressively by Mayweather before. Not only that, he had been put on queer street by Juan Lazcano and Luis Collazo, whom with 15 ko’s in 30 fights seems to go shopping for boxing gloves with Ivan Calderon.

With two perfect wins above the lightweight division limit, Pacquiao established himself as the top junior welterweight with no sign of a welterweight move. Until Roach found another window of opportunity.

Then reports of the violent split between Cotto and his uncle/trainer/manager and Cotto’s unhealthy love of Puerto Rican nightlife went international. Next, he looks vulnerable against Joshua Clottey in a fight that brought back too many memories of Antonio Margarito. So maybe the prey looks wounded? Recognizing that 147 pounds is still dangerous turf, Roach managed to negotiate a title fight while forcing the defending champ to fight below the welter limit.

With this in mind, the fight reminds me a lot of Trinidad-Hopkins. The boxing world is still in awe of Pacquiao’s recent victories and he has a fan base that has elevated him to heroic proportions. Much like Trinidad fans did with Hopkins, Pacquiao fans seem to be overlooking the fact that Miguel Cotto isn’t just any titlist. Trinidad’s train came to a sudden stop when it entered the domain of a great fighter; reality struck in such a way that there are people who still haven’t dealt with it.

I understand Roach’s motivation. The odds seem good, and a victory would elevate team Pacquiao to historic boxing heights. Nevertheless, after analyzing both fighters performances at or near the weight limit at which they will fight, I find nothing to indicate that Manny Pacquiao is near Miguel Cotto’s level as a welter. The weight issue could once again be a factor in Pacquiao’s favour, but we understand team Cotto has taken the necessary measures to minimize its effect. Despite the change of trainers, reports from the training camp in Tampa allude to the pleasant chemistry among the group members as opposed to previous camps, so what many assumed would be a negative may actually have turned into a strength.

Reminiscent of 2001, after this one a nation will see that their hero is not invincible. But this time it’s not Puerto Rico’s turn. For our Filipino friends the post-Pacquiao loss era begins. I see a great little fighter being dominated by a great big fighter — Cotto wins before the sixth round.

Source: http://fightfan.com/2009/11/puerto-rico-vs-the-philippines-final-round-pacquiao-vs-cotto/

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