Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Fight Tonight: Pacquiao vs. Cotto

We don't talk too much about the boxing here at Fack Youk but the 145 lb. bout between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto tonight couldn't fall more squarely in our wheelhouse. The photo about was taken at the press conference for the fight held at Yankee Stadium and we've discussed both contestants on the blog before.

Cotto is the current pride of Puerto Rican boxing, a mantle previously held by past champions Sixto Escobar, Wilfred Benitez, Hector Camacho, Wilfredo Vazquez and most recently, Felix Trinidad. The only loss of his professional career came at the possibly plastered hands of Antonio Margarito in July of 2008. Since then, he punished Michael Jennings and won a narrow (and questionable) split decision over Joshua Clottey in his most recent fight in June.

Between his last two fights, Cotto fired his old trainer and uncle, Evangelista in favor of 32 year old Joe Santiago. He has a masters degree in athletic training and has been surrounded by boxing his whole life, but Santiago has no experience in preparing a fighter for a bout of this magnitude, something that Pacquiao's trainer, Freddy Roach has made sure to point out in the HBO documentary series 24/7 leading up to the fight. The conflict between the two trainers nearly turned physical at the weigh-in, when Santiago reportedly looked at Roach when Cotto was weighing in and said "145, asshole". It was a not-so-subtle barb aimed at the fact Roach had questioned whether Cotto was going to be able to make weight.

This incident was just the latest in an uncharacteristically tumultuous few months of training for Pacquiao. He started his camp in Baguio City in the Phillippines and withstood one Typhoon but was forced to flee to Manilla when another one was bearing down. They eventually relocated to Roach's Wild Card gym in Los Angeles and completed training there.

Within his ever-massive entourage, there was drama as well. His conditioning coach Alex Ariza and an "advisor", Michael Koncz came to blows over who would be in the corner on fight night, and have been at odds all along the way. To a fault, Pacquiao greets people with open arms, but Koncz is pretty clearly a snake and according to many on 24/7, serves essentially no function.

It's been asked if this turmoil will have any effect on Pacquiao, however he wouldn't be poised to take a title in an all-time record 7th weight division if he was easily distracted. He debuted fourteen years ago as a diminutive 106 lb puncher in a 4 round fight and, against all odds, has a chance to break his tie with Oscar De La Hoya - who Pacquiao mercilessly destroyed last December - with championships in six distinct weight classes. He's notched belts at 112, 122, 126, 130, 135 & 140, so tonight would be his highest yet, although he beat De La Hoya at 147.

If you're watching the fight tonight, be sure to cash in on Tecate's promotion that grants you a $25 rebate on the PPV purchase in exchange for buying a 12 pack of their beer. You can get the fight for essentially half price, just for buying a 12 pack of beer. In fact, in New York, no purchase is even necessary. Can't beat that with a stick.

As was the case with Pacquiao's last fight, I'm a fan of both contestants. However, unlike Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto can take some licks, so I doubt this fight is going to end in a scintillating 2nd round KO like that one. If Antonio Margarito couldn't knock Cotto out with plaster on his hands, I don't think Pacquiao is going to be able to do it either. Even Freddie Roach admits that Cotto is the physically stronger of the two fighters, but it's obvious that Pacman has the quicker hands. The game plan is for Manny to be aggressive early and prevent Cotto from gaining any momentum.

You can't go wring picking either guy, but one good reason to root for Pacquiao is that he has the better chance of enticing Floyd Mayweather to fight him than does Cotto. Floyd has become a massive draw and right or wrong, is only going to agree to step into the ring with someone who he views as a big ticket fighter. Cotto might bring most of Puerto Rico along with him, but in terms of drawing the numbers worldwide that Pacquiao does, he just isn't there yet.

There are justifications for pulling for Pacquiao that don't have anything to do with Mayweather as well. It's hard not to like a guy who walks towards the ring smiling ear to ear. He's got an entire country pulling for him and maybe a little harder than usual given the typhoons they just went though. But this is the biggest fight of Cotto's career, he's fighting closer to his natural weight and he has a lot to prove. Neither are afraid to brawl and that should result in some fireworks early.

I'm guessing Pacquiao wins by split decision but Cotto at +195 doesn't seem like too bad of a bet. Enjoy the fight. It should be an entertaining one. And keep an eye out for some Yankees sitting ringside.


  1. I know you're a Kellerman fan, Jay, so I'm guessing you remember hearing Max talk a lot about Cotto when he was still on the air. He won't be on the broadcast tonight, unfortunately, so we won't get her hear take over the post-fight interview.

    I like Cotto to win by decision, actually. I respect Pacquiao but I think Cotto presents a difficult match up for him. If Manny can get that straight left working early then he'll have a good chance, but I think Cotto will outlast him.

  2. Yeah, I remember that well, Anon. Kellerman was a big proponent of Cotto so it's too bad he won't be calling the action tonight. That awful interview not withstanding, I think he does a pretty good job calling the fights.

    I wouldn't be all that surprised if Cotto won tonight. Not to put too much stock into what I saw on 24/7, but I didn't get the same vibe from Pacquiao as in previous fights. But all that goes out the window almost immediately.

  3. well, you're all wrong =) never under estimate someone unless you've seen them progress...

    Cotto gave Pacquiao a good fight but it was never hard for Pacquiao to win coz he is a good student =)