Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cashing in on late stoppage

The Philippine Star

A Las Vegas habitué is wondering if Miguel Cotto knew about the 20-1 betting line for Manny Pacquiao to win by a 12th round knockout in their WBO welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena last weekend.

The source said about an hour before the bout, odds were placed on the MGM boards to give a $100 bet a reward of $2,000 if Pacquiao beat Cotto by knockout or technical knockout in the last round.

The payoff was largest in the 12th round. According to the source who has witnessed every Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas the last two years, the odds were 12-1 for the ninth round, 15-1 for the 10th and 18-1 for the 11th.

“It wasn’t attractive to bet on a Pacquiao win because he was so highly favored,” the source said. “If you picked Pacquiao to win, you would take only $100 on a $350 bet. On the other hand, if you picked Cotto to win, your $100 would win $240. The problem was everybody knew Cotto would lose – probably, Cotto knew, too.”

Maybe, Cotto was aware of the 20-1 betting line and that’s why he refused to quit earlier even as his trainer Joe Santiago suggested a surrender before the 11th round. Maybe, Cotto had a bet, too.

Fans said when Cotto went down in the third and fourth rounds, hardly anybody gave the Puerto Rican a chance to come back. His wife Melissa and their children left the stadium after the ninth round with Cotto beaten black and blue.

Starting the seventh round, all Cotto wanted to do was to survive – up to the 12th round?

* * * *

Pacquiao’s nutritionist Teri Tom called Floyd Mayweather Sr.’s charge that the Filipino icon takes steroids to retain his speed and power despite invading higher weight divisions an absurd accusation.

“I’m not even going to dignify that with an answer except to say that some guys are more genetically gifted than others,” said Tom who was recruited by Pacquiao’s conditioning coach Alex Ariza to join the training team. “I’ve seen over 900 clients in my nutrition practice – that’s a lot of bodies. I know that guys who’ve thought their whole lives that they’re hard gainers often find out that if we pinpoint exactly how much protein and calories they need, and if we monitor and adapt over time, their genetic potential far exceeds their expectations. Obviously, Manny has incredible genetic gifts. Our job is to bring the most out of those gifts.”

Regarding Mayweather Sr. Ariza told The STAR he could only expect crazy comments from someone who didn’t even finish high school.

“We use supplements, not steroids,” said Ariza. “Someone who never finished high school, like Mayweather, wouldn’t understand the difference and that’s why they make dumb comments.”

Asked how much longer Pacquiao could fight at a high level given his age, Tom said “while he just keeps getting stronger and faster, a couple of more fights and he’ll probably move on to politics.”

Tom called Pacquiao’s rise from flyweight to possibly the welterweight champion “an incredible run.” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said even if Pacquiao becomes a congressman, he could still squeeze in two fights a year, taking a total of four months of preparation and leaving eight months for work in the Lower House. It’s been mentioned that Pacquiao’s dream is to be introduced by Michael Buffer before a fight as the world champion and fighting congressman from the Philippines.

“He obviously has a passion for helping people,” said Tom.

* * * *

Pacquiao’s feat of capturing seven world titles in seven weight divisions is phenomenal, to say the least.

There were several multiple-division champions who crashed on their way up. Alexis Arguello was a sensation as a featherweight, superfeatherweight and lightweight but just couldn’t beat lightwelterweight Aaron Pryor in two attempts. Sugar Ray Robinson was almost unbeatable at welterweight and middleweight but couldn’t repulse lightheavyweight Joey Maxim.

Henry Armstrong won the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight crowns but managed only a draw with Filipino middleweight king Ceferino Garcia. Jeff Fenech was fearsome as a bantamweight, superbantamweight and featherweight but couldn’t deliver the power in losing to superfeatherweights Azumah Nelson and Calvin Grove. But Pacquiao was unstoppable in claiming the world flyweight title from Chatchai Sasakul in 1998, superbantamweight crown from Lehlo Ledwaba in 2001, featherweight belt from Marco Antonio Barrera in 2003, superfea therweight diadem from Juan Manuel Marquez last year, lightweight throne from David Diaz last year, lightwelterweight plum from Ricky Hatton last May and welterweight championship from Cotto last Saturday in his incredible ascent to the top of today’s boxing world as the No.1 pound-for-pound king.

The judges in the Pacquiao-Cotto bout were Hall of Fame referee Robert Byrd’s wife Adalaide, Dave Moretti and Duane Ford.

Byrd and Moretti were judges in Pacquiao’s fight against Oscar de la Hoya last December. They both saw it 80-71, a shutout for the Filipino when the fight was stopped before the start of the ninth round. Moretti, 65, was a judge when Pacquiao lost a unanimous decision to Erik Morales in 2005. He had it 115-113 for the Mexican. Pacquiao has since won 11 in a row.

Ford, 71, was a judge in Pacquiao’s rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez. He scored it 115-112 for the Filipino who won via a split decision.

When referee Kenny Bayless stopped the Pacquiao-Cotto fight in the 12th round, Byrd had it 109-99, Ford 108-99 and Moretti 108-100, all for the challenger. Byrd gave Cotto only a round, the first, while Ford and Moretti were a little generous in awarding the Puerto Rican two.

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