Saturday, October 3, 2009

How Manny Pacquiao beats Miguel Cotto…strict gameplan

How Manny Pacquiao beats Miguel Cotto…strict gameplan
By Gareth A Davies

Freddie Roach is concocting a strict gameplan for Manny Pacquiao to follow against Miguel Cotto, the Puerto Rican whom the Filipino faces in an American ring in Las Vegas in 6 and a half weeks’ time.

Ten days into training camp in the Shape Up Gym in Baguio City, in The Philippines, a departure from his previous dozen camps, there are positive noises emerging. That said, Roach is concerned by local distractions, while in the same breath remains amazed once again by Pacquiao’s conditioning and appetite for training.

Roach, Pacquiao’s celebrated trainer always talks of ‘letting his fighter go’, letting his charge off the leash, at a certain point in a championship contest. Is it unlikely that Pacquiao will be released from a clear game plan in this one.

It has to be a tight, masterful performance. It will have to be, in order to defeat Cotto and capture his WBA welterweight gong. The fistic silhouettes of the dance between these two fighters suggests Pacquiao will be outgunned if he stands toe to toe with a fighter who has to be considered if not the most skilled, then certainly one of the most durable fighters on the planet.

The fairytale is for Pacquiao to win. Then, only then, will the boxing world be able to ready itself for the superfight the sport needs between Floyd Mayweather and Pacquiao, likely to be in the early spring of next year. In spite of Pacquiao insisting this week that he “wishes to campaign in the elections” and that he has “nothing left to prove”, let us forget the idea of Pacquiao running in the elections for a moment.

A clear battle plan is developing, and it involves a 12-round strategy in which Pacquiao will have to win on points. As ever, Roach has pinpointed the fact that Pacquiao must box against Cotto, use his speed, move in and out, win the early rounds and outbox this teak tough champion who has lost only once in 35 professional fights and has campaigned at welterweight since 2006.

There are those in the UK, like former world champion Barry McGuigan, who cannot see Pacquiao dethroning Mayweather. Indeed, McGuigan, who has been around in the game long enough to see many a great in action, believes even Cotto may be a step too far for Pacquiao, again giving away size and weight.

McGuigan said in his weekend column in The Daily Mirror. “Roach was not impressed with Mayweather’s victory over Juan Manuel Marquez. The fight was there for the taking, he said. Mayweather just did not have the balls to finish him off.

I like and respect Roach but I think he is whistling in the dark here. I am the first to agree that Mayweather could take more risks, that he could be more exciting.

That does not detract from the fact that he is an awesome fighter. At welterweight there is not a boxer alive who can take him in my view.

There is a danger in Roach and Pacquiao looking too far over the fence into the future. They have enough on their plate in November with Miguel Cotto.”

I disagree. Pacquiao could defeat Cotto on points. He could also get caught in the late rounds. Cotto is now a systematic campaigner at 147lbs, and has knocked out 27 of his 35 opponents.

But a step too far ? I don’t think so. Having seen Pacquiao up close in training, how he goes 5 hours without a break, how he possesses an almost fixated instinct in the ring, his special qualities could see him to another remarkable victory. If so, he really then does have to weigh-up his options. Election campaign or Mayweather ?

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