Even the most ardent critic must now concede Manny Pacquiao’s play for all-time greatness.
In battering Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto to a 12th round stoppage, he has become the first to ever to champion seven weight divisions. But in an age of alphabet mayhem and countless paper champions, the distinction might not carry the reverence of old if not for the manner in which the Filipino superstar has wretched it from the blood of some of boxing’s best.
To say the least, Miguel Cotto is no slouch.
A more specific depiction attests to a fearsome body puncher with uncanny tenacity; a bruising pressure fighter who also must be included as one of the sports finest.
But on this night, it was the speed, angles and toughness of Pacquiao which carried the day as they have so many times before.
Cotto seemed game after the first frame, effectively controlling his opponent with stiff jabs and well placed counter shots, but when a flawlessly timed Pacquiao right hook scored a flash knockdown in the third, one could sense the curtain lowering on Cotto’s reign as a welterweight titlist. A left uppercut to chin sent him to the canvas again in the fourth to solidify the point and the Boricua never seemed to find himself on sure footing after that.
The middle rounds featured some primetime action, but Pacquiao’s blazing handspeed and unorthodoxy proved the difference rendering Cotto virtually helpless and backpedaling in survival mode for several rounds. Pride prevailed over prudence when Cotto vetoed his corner’s suggestion to stop the fight after the eleventh, but a final Pacquiao flurry lent Kenny Bayless all the excuse he needed to halt the massacre in the final frame.
The performance answered many looming questions—
Both experts and casual fans must agree that Mayweather – Pacquiao is the most important fight in boxing. It will be a promotion of epic proportions to likely dwarf the De la Hoya – Mayweather numbers of 2007. That fight must be made if Bob Arum, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Freddie Roach all have to be gagged and hog-tied during negotiations. One thing is for certain, there will be more than enough greenbacks to satisfy even the most fiendish capitalist. Whether by even split or 40/40 winner take 20, that fight absolutely must occur come early to mid 2010 if either fighter is to solidify their claim as pound for pound best.
When a fighter racks up world titles from 112 to 147 and along the way competes against the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera, Eric Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Ricky Hatton, Oscar de la Hoya and Miguel Cotto to compile a resounding 8-1-1 record, there should be no question of his status as one of the best of this era.
While Freddie Roach’s tendency of criticizing opposing cornermen may leave a bad taste in the mouth, he is undoubtedly possessed of an uncanny understanding of the sweet science.
In an era when the stigma of a single defeat can send the world clamoring for retirement, so-called experts and laymen alike would be wise to remember that pugilists of other eras almost always suffered multiple losses, but were still regarded as great by their respective viewership. One should keep in mind that when the best fight the best, the occasional loss is inevitable.
Boxing is rock, paper, scissors, not king of the hill.