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It seemed the whole world had their eyes glued to what took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Saturday night in what was the biggest fight of the year: Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Cotto titled: FIREPOWER. The sold-out MGM Grand arena (which holds just over 17,000 fans) was filled with some of the most famous celebrities in the world from movie stars such as Will Ferrell, to top athletes such as Derek Jeter.
The majority of the crowd was predominantly made up of the two fighters’ ethnic backgrounds of Filipino and Puerto Rican descent. It seemed over all there were slightly more Filipinos in attendance perhaps due to Las Vegas being located closer to the west coast where statistically the majority of Filipino Americans reside in the neighboring California state to the majority of Puerto Ricans being in biggest numbers on the east coast.
Regardless of ethnic background or pride all fight fans had something to cheer about as the bell finally rang at the beginning of this fight.
The first round seemed to go to the champion Cotto as he out landed and out boxed the challenger Pacquiao.
In round two Pacquiao began to obtain his rhythm as he started to unleash flurries to answer Cotto's clean jabs and left hooks.
In round three the tide really started to shift to the challenger Pacquiao as a blinding right hand sent Cotto down to the canvas as the MGM Grand reacted in screams and cheers.
In round four Pacquiao intentionally laid his back against the ropes and allowed Cotto to open up on him much like Ali had done to George Foreman in a rope-a-dope fashion. This confused most of the fans in the MGM Grand as many were questioning why Manny was doing this. Cotto landed some clean shots on Pacquiao to the body. Pacquiao escaped from the ropes to land another blinding left hand that Cotto never saw coming sending him down for the second time in the fight erupting the fans in the MGM Grand to cheer louder than the first knock down.
The majority of the rest of the fight Cotto fought on as a true champion refusing to quit or let his corner end the fight despite Pacquiao dominating round after round administering a one sided beat down shut out due to his superior speed and stronger punches to the weakening champion.
From rounds 10 on, Pacquiao at moments put both of his hands down to his side as if he was telling both Cotto and the referee why must we do this? Why must I punish this man further? This gesture confused the sold-out crowd as they began to boo whenever Pacquiao repeated this gesture to the end of the fight.
A legitimate argument could be made to stop the fight anywhere between rounds nine through 12 where Cotto seemed to fight in desperate surviving mode with the only possible intentions of finishing the fight.
In the 12th and final round referee Kenny Bayless watched very carefully for any moment to stop the fight if he saw Cotto taking any further punishment. Pacquiao unleashed what looked to be a multiple combination on Cotto as he pinned him against the ropes and that was when Bayless jumped into to waive off the fight. The MGM Grand jumped to their feet as if every spectator felt they had well received their money’s worth for this fight.
Many Puerto Rican fans even stood up to graciously concede their approval of Manny’s performance that night and still held their heads high and wore their Puerto Rican flag colors proud as if to say their fighter gave one hell of a fight and lost only to the best fighter in the world at the very end.
In the post fight interview Larry Merchant told Pacquiao he did not show any mercy towards Cotto by punishing him and going for the stoppage in the 12th round and Pacquiao said yes as he laughed and many of the thousands of fans who still stayed in the arena for the interview began to laugh as well.
Miraculously there were no fights among the 17,000 plus passionate crowd as if everyone was just happy to see such an amazing fight with two true champions who have always won over the crowds with their fan friendly exciting fighting styles. Pacquiao had booked a live singing concert performance with himself and his band at the Mandalay Bay that took place right after the fight implying just how confident he was on a victory that night.
Pacquiao improves his record to 50(38)-3-2 and making history as the only seven division champion ever.
Cotto falls to 34(27)-2.
Personally as a big fan of both of these two fighters, I like most true fight fans, could not ask for anything more. These again have been two of the very few fighters out there that have been keeping the sport of boxing alive during this so called slump, or even death, of boxing that many critics and media have been reporting in the last several years. It's because of fighters like these two who actually fight, who trade shots, who give the fans a reason to stand up and lift their own hands up in the air. And they continue to win new fans over and over again with their exciting, thrilling, fighting styles.
Both Manny and Miguel do not bore us to tears like so many other fighters out there do. These guys fight for the fans and that is why they have been keeping the sport of boxing alive and well.