Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009 | 2 a.m.
If You Go
- Who: Manny Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) vs. Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs)
- What: 12-round welterweight title fight
- When: Nov. 14
- Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena
- Tickets: Sold out
- TV: HBO pay-per-view, $54.95
- Freddie Roach talks tough; Manny Pacquiao backs it up (11-7-2009)
- Miguel Cotto turns up heat readying for Manny Pacquiao (11-6-2009)
- Don’t sleep on Manny Pacquiao, trainer warns (10-30-2009)
- Manny Pacquiao happy with Philippines camp, now in U.S. training (10-28-2009)
- Cotto faces test of size, sizzle (10-22-2009)
- Pacquiao vs. Cotto on the minds of fight fans (9-23-2009)
- Boxing/UFC/MMA coverage
In broad terms, Saturday’s showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto shapes up as a classic clash of speed versus power.
Pacquiao, seeking a world title in a seventh weight class in the welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, has the speed.
Cotto, with his naturally larger frame, brings the power.
Just below that surface analysis, though, the most pressing question regarding the intriguing matchup concerns whether Cotto will suffer any lingering effects from his most recent fight, a viciously tough encounter with Joshua Clottey in June at Madison Square Garden.
Making the first defense of his WBO title, Cotto floored Clottey with a jab in the first round, but sustained a cut above his left eye in a clash of heads in Round 3.
His vision obscured by blood pouring out of the cut, Cotto rallied late in the 12-rounder and won a split decision.
Pacquiao supporters have suggested that Cotto could become the latest in a line of boxers who are never quite the same after one rugged night in the ring — a sad truth in a sport that provides us with moments that are alternately sublime and brutally violent, or a combination of the two.
Any reading from the gospel according to Team Cotto, however, will push the theory that his experience with Clottey served to make Cotto stronger.
“If you ever saw somebody who fought with a huge cut over his eye and had to deal with the cut and an opponent in front of him and win the fight ... (these are) all the things I had to deal with in that fight,” Cotto said. “I had a huge cut over my eye, I had a strong opponent in front of me and I was the winner of the fight.
“I learned how to deal with huge problems in a title fight.”
Cotto’s trainer, Joe Santiago, classified it as a valuable learning experience, one he could draw on Saturday night if the fight with Pacquiao develops into another grueling 12-rounder.
“It was a team effort and everyone did their part,” Santiago said. “I think the preparation was good and on the night of the fight we were all doing what we were supposed to do. This time around I think we are all going to be better for it.”
Both men alluded to pride in their Puerto Rican heritage in discussing Cotto’s ability to fight through adversity.
Cotto is cognizant of his role as the newest addition to a roster of accomplished Puerto Rican boxers that includes champions in multiple weight divisions such as Wilfred Benitez, Wilfredo Gomez and Felix Trinidad.
“This will be a great victory for Miguel, and a great victory for Puerto Rico,” Santiago said.
Cotto and Pacquiao each claim they would be comfortable either acting as the aggressor or adopting a strategy based on counterpunching, depending on how the fight unfolds.
No one on either side of the fight questions the potency of Cotto’s left hook, the most dangerous tool in his repertoire.
A natural southpaw, Cotto fights from an orthodox stance, which makes him a switch-hitter of sorts and adds some extra oomph to his hook.
“With Miguel, his money punch is the left hook,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters. “That was Oscar De La Hoya’s money punch when he fought Manny, but Oscar wasn’t fast enough to get that punch through. Manny’s speed completely flummoxed Oscar. As far as doing the same to Cotto, it may be possible, but to me it’s unlikely.”
Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, continuing to forecast an “easy” win for his fighter, thinks Cotto could still be feeling a hangover from the Clottey fight as well as his loss to Antonio Margarito last year.
“It takes time to come back,” Roach said. “Some people never come back.
“In this fight, if we give him confidence early, it’ll grow. If we put the pressure on him early, and make him remember those fights, we’re going to get him.”