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.

College Football Saturday: Week 11

A special Saturday good morning Fackers. Gameday kicks off in an hour, coming from Fort Worth this week where Utah takes on TCU later tonight. The winner of that game almost assuredly takes the Mountain West, and it's a game that pits the #16 team in the BCS against the currently undefeated #4 team. Yet no one will get to see it because it's on CBS College Sports, and no one gets that channel. Damn you non-BCS Conferences and your lack of a decent television contract!

Anyway, we're hitting the home stretch of the season here and there are a lot of big match ups this week. Here's a look at some of the games most of the civilized world will have the opportunity to watch:

Tennessee at Ole Miss, 12:00 CBS: Here's what you need to know about this game. Early Thursday morning, three Volunteer freshman were arrested for a failed armed robbery attempt, performed on campus, while wearing team issued attire. Meanwhile on Tuesday, administration at Mississippi announced that the band will no longer be playing long time anthem "To Dixie With Love" due to the students and fans continued insistence of yelling hot button phrase "The South will rise again" at the song's conclusion. Well then, so much for dispelling SEC stereotypes.

Michigan State at Purdue, 12:00 ESPN: Another week, another God-awful boring Big Ten game to kick off the day. With any luck Bob Griese will say something ethnically insensitive again and make this interesting. At the very least he'll be back at his alma mater this week; perhaps he'll find a more receptive audience.

#7 Georgia Tech at Duke, 12:00 ESPN2: So much for Duke wreaking havoc on the ACC standings last week. Still this is their best season in years, probably since future NY Giants QB washout Dave Brown was still there. Meanwhile, GT is looking completely legit right now, and coach Paul Johnson's decision to go for it on fourth and less than a yard while trailing by three in OT last week took some major cojones. Ugh and Pam fucking Ward is announcing this game. Why does she still have a job?

Florida State at Wake Forest, 12:00 ESPNU: Last week I made a crack about someone waking Bobby Bowden up so that FSU could pull off an upset and help BC in the process. Turns out there was more truth to that than I thought, as Bowden repeatedly asked reporters for clarification on details of the game during his post-game press conference. I'm all for respecting the legends and letting them go out on their own terms, but this is getting downright sad. Also, Christian Ponder is out for the season. The Seminoles are fucked.

Northwestern at Illinois, 12:00 ESPN Classic: I love it when the occasional game gets relegated to ESPN Classic and then for the duration of the game they have to plaster "LIVE" in the upper corner of the screen so people don't think it's a classic game. As if anyone could possibly confuse a match up between Northwestern and Illinois as a classic. I'd rather they just forgo this one and keep showing 20 year old AWA wrestling matches. Also, a big middle finger to Northwestern for upsetting Iowa last week and ruining my dreams of a season ending menage a trois atop the Big Ten standings.

Louisville at Syracuse, 12:00 SNY: I have absolutely nothing of substance or remotely funny to say about this game. But I don't want Big Willie Style to get mad at me for leaving it out. Is it poignant that Syracuse football and Mets baseball share a network for an afternoon? You decide.

Yale at Princeton, 1:oo YES: Hey Fans! Do you like 1-AA match ups between academic powerhouses that haven't been relevant in football for forty years, have no scholarship athletes, and whose own conference prevents them from taking part in post-season play? Well do we have a game for you! Coin Toss! Kickoff! Football! Next, only on YES!

#1 Florida at South Carolina, 3:30 CBS: Oooh, CBS gets a double header this week. Can Spencer Tillman's jheri curl handle the double shift? Word is Tim Brando is under orders to only allow him a single Soul Glo oil change over the course of the afternoon. Meanwhile, I'm surprised Verne Lundquist didn't angle for the noon game so he could catch an early bird special. Also, did you know that South Carolina Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy at Florida and later went on to coach there? I bet you won't hear a word about that during this game.

#10 Iowa at #11 Ohio State, 3:30 ABC: Barring any late season upsets, this is essentially the Big Ten Championship Game. If history repeats itself, the Buckeyes will take this one assuring another blood letting at the hands of whomever in a BCS game. At least it will most likely be the Rose Bowl this year rather than the BCS Championship Game. Also, I can't think of a broadcast crew I dislike more than Sean McDonough, Matt Millen, and Holly Rowe. That's three special kinds of annoying, incompetent, and ugly, respectively.

Delaware at Navy, 3:30 CBS College Sports: I know I said no one gets this channel; I just wanted to use this as an opportunity to point out that Navy defeated Notre Dame in South Bend last weekend for the second time in as many trips. What would it say about ND if Delaware could pull off the upset of Navy today? Of course, ND beat BC, so what would that say about BC? Nevermind; forget I even brought this up.

Boston College at Virginia, 3:30 ESPN360: Speaking of BC, I've had about enough of this. This is BC's tenth game this year and all but three of them haven't been on TV. I didn't mind so much when there was still baseball going on, but now this really sticks in my craw. To make matters worse, my ISP doesn't have an agreement with ESPN360 (F-U Cablevision!). In happier news, I had to work on a Saturday last month and there I found out that not only does my work ISP offer ESPN360, but I can now access it remotely from anywhere by using my account. Take that assholes; I just wish I had known earlier in the season. So once again, I'll be watching this one with a laptop frying my balls for three hours. This is likely the end of days for Al Groh in Charlottesville after the Cavs faithful have been clamoring for his ouster for years. Aren't you glad you only had him for a year Jets fans?

Idaho at #6 Boise State, 3:30 PM ESPNU: Did you know that Idaho didn't get the nickname "Vandals" until they pranked Boise St by breaking into their stadium and spray painted their astroturf blue? Before that they were the Potato Farmers. Or maybe I just made all of that up.

#2 Alabama at Mississippi St, 7:00 ESPN: No matter what happens from here on in, the SEC Championship Game is already set with Alabama and Florida. Chances are both teams enter undefeated, but even if it's a one loss team winning that game, they're a dead lock to head to the BCS Championship Game. What I'm wondering is given the strength of the SEC and how much love they get in the polls, just how many losses would one of those teams have to have to be excluded from the BCS Championship Game? Two? Three? I doubt we'll even find out. By the way, this is your Erin Andrews game for the night - just in case you were wondering.

#17 Arizona at California, 7:00 Versus: Compared to 2007 and 2008, this college football season is downright boring without the weekly upsets and constant shuffling atop the rankings. The Pac-10 is apparently the last bastion of the chaos of the last two years. With Oregon's loss last week, 'Zona is in the driver's seat out west heading into next week's match up with the Ducks. They have to get by a good Cal team first. With three losses the Golden Bears are pretty much out of the picture. They'll be without star running back Jahvid Best who last Saturday suffered his second concussion in as many weeks on quite possibly the scariest hit I've ever seen.

Louisiana Tech at #8 LSU, 7:00 EPSNU: LSU is one of five FBS teams that go by "Tigers", but to my knowledge, they're the only school that keeps a live bengal fucking tiger on their campus. Think about that for a second. A bunch of drunken cajun college students sharing a campus with a carnivorous beast. I have no clue how this has yet to result in Sigfried and Roy type catastrophe.

Auburn at Georgia, 7:30 ESPN2: Auburn also goes by the Tigers, but they do not keep a live oversized feline mascot. Georgia, on the other hand, does have a live bulldog mascot and he has a past history with Auburn. I can't imagine how that would play out if it were to happen in Baton Rouge, but it wouldn't be pretty. I like tuning into these night games on ESPN2 for the studio coverage. I'm always intrigued to see if Wendi Nix is wearing her "sexy librarian" get up that night and markedly less intrigued to find out if former Giant back-up QB / Bachelor Jesse Palmer has gotten any dumber since last week.

Notre Dame at #12 Pittsburgh, 8:00 ABC: I know how much people love to bag on Bill Belichik, particularly in metro-NYC, but I've always been a fan of the guy thanks to the dominant Giant defenses that he led in my childhood. Love him or hate him, you gotta admit the guy's good. Since leaving Belichick, Romeo Crennel has done his best work in Coors Light commericals, Eric Mangini is about to get fired for the second time in less than a year, Josh McDaniels was a P.R. disaster at the outset and is now crashing back to earth, and Charlie Weis has one fat foot in a double wide grave. I think the loss to Navy last week was the final straw for him. Hey, Ty Willingham's available; why doesn't ND rehire him and foist all the blame on him again? Meanwhile, could Pitt overlook the Irish? This is a non-conference game while a de facto Big East Championship Game against Cincinnati on December 5th looms.

Texas Tech at #19 Oklahoma St, 8:oo ESPN360: This one's relegated to internet only in most of the country, but features an interesting match up of two crazier-than-usual coaches. Mike Gundy is still a man; Mike Leach is still a pirate.

Arizona St at #13 Oregon, 10:20 ESPN: Like Arizona, Oregon needs to keep winning in order to win the Pac-10. They may be able to afford one more loss so long as they can beat the Wildcats next week, giving them the head-to-head tiebreaker. Meanwhile, earlier this week Oregon prematurely rescinded their season long suspension of LeGarrette Blount, issued after he punched a helmetless Boise St. Bronco in the face following the season's opening game. I'm sure it's just coincidental that the decision was reversed after a critical loss.

Enjoy the games Fackers.