Manny Pacquiao had cautionary words for his opponent this Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The ‘Fighting Pride of the Phillipines' normally shirks from such pre-fight banter but yesterday felt the need to set the record straight.
‘I feel stronger at this weight than I ever have. My punches are harder, my speed is intact. I keep getting warned about Cotto's body attack. Cotto should be worried about my body attack.’
Remember, it was only 19 months ago Pacquiao campaigned at super featherweight—130 lbs—and when he began his career as a raw talented 16 year old he fought at 112lbs.
When one is faced with the Manny Pacquiao that now befalls us, we are presented with a robust, muscular, and burly individual who looks every inch a natural welterweight.
Pacquiao’s seemless transition from Flyweight to super-featherweight and ultimately to welterweight can be attributed to his versatile frame.
Such an anatomy that has allowed him to step up through the weight divisions and carry his incomparable and superior speed without any concession.
However we are yet to truly witness whether Pacquiao can effectively carry his power past the super-featherweights and up to a genuine, solid jawed welterweight.
His two fights above Super Featherweight—against Oscar de la Hoya and Ricky Hatton—do not serve as any sort of clarification.
Ricky Hatton is a durable fighter but has always been susceptible to the one-punch knockout.
Oscar de la Hoya never seemed on the verge of a knockdown in his encounter with Pacquiao even though he sustained a violent beating as a result of the perpetual punches from his opponent.
The Golden Boy—the only fighter to face Pacquiao above Light Welterweight—has gone so far as to denigrate the Phillipino fighter’s power,
‘He doesn’t hit hard enough to knock anyone out in the welterweight division.’ De la Hoya continued, ‘I’m basing that on my fight against Pacquiao. I could’ve stood there and put my face in front of him and he couldn’t have hurt me.’
What also must be added into the equation is Cotto’s own durability.
In his own 35 fight career, Cotto has only been knocked down three times.
One was a highly controversial knockdown against Ricardo Torres that many attribute this to a push. Much more notoriously he was forced to pick himself up off the canvas on two occasions against Antonio Margarito in July 2008.
Cotto was subjected to a beating of monumental proportions in the latter fight.
The skepticism centred around the legitimacy of Margarito’s dominance in that fight serves as a significant gauge in my estimation of the chances Pacquiao’s power has of overwhelming and knocking-out Miguel Cotto.
There is a distinct possibility that Margarito was boxing that night with illegal hardened pads inside his wraps, if we consider that such chicanery was discovered prior to Margarito’s bout with Shane Mosley this past January.
Cotto’s wounds and swelling suffered that night give further credence to such a theory.
If Cotto was able to withstand such a punishing onslaught from the gorged gloved Margarito for 10 rounds what hope does Pacquiao have of overpowering Cotto?
There is a credible argument that says Cotto is and could not be the same indomitable specimen that he was prior to the Margarito bout. That his submission when he dropped to one knee in surrender in Round 11 was evidence that the psychological scar will run deep.
Critics determine that he will constantly question his own ability making him a more cagey and tentative fighter thus making him vulnerable.
I do not buy into this theory.
Cotto fought a very underrated Joshua Clottey in June and was faced with innumerable scenarios when fighter’s grit is tested, Cotto answered all and came out the other side.
Miguel Cotto is a battle hardened veteran who—the Margarito fight aside—has seemed inexorably resilient to fighters bombardment of landed punches.
He will face a higher accumulation of punches—owing to Pacquiao’s tremendous output and success rate, but none will possess the necessary power to unseat Cotto.
Manny may be the whirlwind from the Philippines but don’t expect him to topple the Puerto Rican come Saturday night.
I normally refrain from giving predictions but feel obliged to do so on this occasion considering the magnitude of the fight.
I am utterly convinced that we are looking at the fight of the year. The tempo will be fast, fierce, and furious. Neither man will back down and there will be toe-to-toe action.
I will start by discounting the size argument. In my opinion Pacquiao is too talented a fighter to let the small size difference be the deciding factor.
He remains the most dynamic active fighter, his unpredictability and constant movement are the scourge of many a great fighter- no matter how much talent they possess.
Cotto will be greeted with punches from angles that he has never faced before.
The Puerto Rican will contend in the first half of the fight, pursuing Manny as he circles anti clockwise—in an attempt to negate Cotto’s powerful left.
Pacquiao will attack from different directions, constantly in and out, frustrating Cotto more than hurting him.
Don’t expect this to be totally one-sided, though; Cotto will have fleeting success using his jab to catch Manny on the way in, and cut the ring off while using his trademark left hook to the body.
Unfortunately Cotto doesn’t possess the innate talent that Pacquiao does which will lead to a much more methodical approach. Manny’s rapid fire combinations are much more effective and aesthetically appealing than the Puerto Rican’s calculated punching.
There is one telling statistic which I feel has been overlooked and will shape the latter stages of the fight—calf sizes.
Manny possesses 15" calves compared to Cotto's 12".
This is a staggering differential.
I know it seems like a strange concept that such could have any bearing on a fight. Bear with me though.
Such a disparity tells me that Cotto—who will weigh possibly 10-15 lbs more than Manny come fight night—is very top heavy. Meaning that he will feel the frenetic pace more than Pacquiao, especially come the latter rounds.
Cotto has suffered in previous bouts down the home stretch—examine the Mosley and Clottey bouts for evidence.
Manny will of course be fighting at a much more consistently brutal pace than either of those two.
This will allow him to come on strong and dominate the championship rounds.
I do not feel however that Pacquiao has the power to knockout Cotto. Most likely I expect a unanimous decision in favour of Manny, unless Cotto takes a sustained barrage of punches in the championship rounds and his corner pulls him out.