Tuesday, November 24, 2009

LOOKING BACK AT COTTO AND AHEAD TO FLOYD

By Jason Aniel
PhilBoxing.com

San Francisco, CA—Manny Pacquiao has made a career of continuing to exceed fans, writers, and critics expectations. From winning the flyweight title in Thailand to winning the super bantamweight title on 14 days notice, Pacquiao has never been one to shy away from a big challenge. Last week, Pacquiao took on the biggest challenge (literally) in his career so far when he ran over the much larger Miguel Cotto in the same fashion that has defined his career. The 12 round beating he put on Cotto was similar to the 11th round destruction Pacquiao laid on Marco Antonio Barrera exactly six years ago.

After an impressive opening round by Miguel Cotto, where he effectively caught Pacquiao moving back with jabs and left hooks, Pacquiao began to step up the pace. Pacquiao started landing straight lefts and Cotto could not keep up with him. After Pacquiao scored knockdowns in the 3rd and 4th round, it was the beginning of the end for the former champion from Puerto Rico, as he began to fade where as Pacquiao only got stronger. For the first 6 rounds, the fight was exciting, well fought, and competitive. It was well on its way to become the fight of the year. However, after the 6th round, it became a masterful performance by Pacquiao.


Not only did Pacquiao out fight and out speed Cotto, but also he proved to be too smart and too experienced even for a master technician like Cotto. For example, Cotto has been known to switch from the conventional stance to a southpaw stance in order to get better angles with his left hand. Every time Cotto switched to southpaw, Pacquiao would immediately lead with a right hook and left uppercut. Manny adjusted his style to counter Cotto’s style and it worked brilliantly. Where other southpaws have difficultly fighting other southpaws, Pacquiao, who saw more than a few southpaws early in his career, knew exactly what to do. It may be hard to believe, but Pacquiao is even better against other southpaws.

Another example of Pacquiao using his ring smarts over his physical talent was when he became defensive and allowed Cotto to land punches while he was on the ropes. While this was the last thing his trainer, Freddie Roach, wanted from his prized pupil, Pacquiao wanted to make a point that he was able to withstand heavy punches from a strong puncher. In past fights, when Pacquiao was hit with a clean punch, he would immediately retaliate with a furry of punches. As a result, often times, that would leave Manny even more open for counter punches. HowJustify Fullever, against Cotto, Manny remained patient and disciplined in his offense. When Cotto did land solid blows, Pacquiao was able to get out of the way and reestablish himself in the center of the ring, where he had the clear advantage. With the dominance Pacquiao has shown in his last four fights, it’s clear that the mental side of boxing has caught up with Manny’s unique physical abilities and tremendous heart. The scary thing is that he may not yet be in the prime of his career, as Freddie Roach still believes Pacquiao can get better.

As Manny Pacquiao enjoys the rest of 2009 with family and friends, the boxing universe is already buzzing over the potential “Fight of the Century” between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Representative from both side have already begun initial discussions to try to put the fight together, which is an accomplishment in itself. At one point, it seemed impossible that Mayweather, who began his career with Top Rank but ended it in a bitter buyout, would ever fight on card promoted by Bob Arum. However, with the success of the Pacquiao-Cotto PPV, the massive public demands, and with the help of Golden Promotions CEO, Richard Schaefer, Mayweather’s team is willing to make the fight happen.

Over the holiday season, the most intriguing storyline in boxing will be the negotiation process between Arum and Schaefer and between Team Pacquiao and Team Mayweather. The advisers and representative of Mayweather have already made their stance as to why their fighter should receive the greater percentage of the massive PPV profits. They cited to Mayweather’s superiority in PPV buys over Pacquiao in their three common opponents (De La Hoya, Hatton, and Marquez). While numbers do not lie, they also do not tell the entire story. Mayweather’s PPV numbers dropped at a higher percentage rate than Pacquiao’s did in their bouts from De La Hoya to Hatton. Also, Pacquiao’s curve in PPV buys is in an upward trend, where Mayweather’s has leveled off a bit. Pacquiao’s PPV buys rose higher from Hatton to Cotto than Mayweather did from Hatton to Marquez.

The story on Mayweather is out and has been well documented for the past two years. People know what they have with Floyd Mayweather Jr. On the other hand, Pacquiao’s story is continuing to grow as more people are learning about the Filipino phenomenon. While Mayweather can been seen on World Wrestling Entertainment feuding with the Big Show, Pacquiao can be found on TIME magazine and signing ballads on YouTube.com. Pacquiao’s NIKE trainers are some of the most sought after shoes causing stores to raffle a limited number of shoes to the public. It’s clear that now Pacquiao is trending at a much higher rate than Mayweather at this point in time. And that’s just in terms of mainstream popularity. Manny is expected to rack up additional hardware with boxing awards like 2009‘s “Fighter of the Year” and possibly “Fighter of the Decade”. Pacquiao is already considered the best fighter in the world pound for pound.

Will Pacquiao’s recent economic and pugilistic success be enough to convince Mayweather to take a lesser percentage than he initially desires? Probably not. However, as Freddie Roach explained, if Floyd is asking for 65-35 split, he’s really saying he doesn’t want the fight. However, one can understand Mayweather’s position seeing how Manny has much more to gain in beating Mayweather than vice-versa. Pacquiao is already being touted as one of the 10 to 25 best fighters of all time. If Pacquiao beats Mayweather, you can only imagine the hysteria that will ensue in the Philippines and to Filipinos all across the world. If Mayweather wins, he will simply confirm the greatest he knew he had from the beginning.

Mayweather has made it clear that he is all about the “check cashing business” and that money is his sole driving force to continue with the sport. When he made many concessions to Oscar De La Hoya in their 2007 fight (from the size of the gloves, the weight, and the PPV split), Mayweather understood that beating De La Hoya is the key to launch the Mayweather brand. Taking less with De La Hoya would allow Mayweather to cash in later when he’s a superstar. Maybe this bout with Pacquiao is his attempt to break the bank just like a baseball player who becomes an unrestricted free agent for the first time. Does that mean Manny will have to give up more just to get the fight he needs to possibly become the greatest fighter in history?

One concession Pacquiao should not make is the size of the gloves. Pacquiao must be allowed to wear eight once Reyes gloves against Mayweather. Money is one thing, but Pacquiao is already fighting at an unnatural weight class and against fighters that are naturally ten pounds or more heavier than himself. To make Pacquiao wear ten once “pillow gloves” at 147lbs tilts the competitive advantage too much in Mayweather’s favor.

If Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson can negotiate a fight then there’s no reason why Pacquiao-Mayweather can’t become a reality. There are many issues, small and big, that could delay or prevent the fight from happening. It’s going to take both sides to give a little to make the fight happen. However, with the potential money that’s on the table, this fight cannot get any bigger than it is right now.

QUICK JABS

Newly crowned Super Middleweight champion, Andre Ward, just became Oakland’s only winning sports franchise. Maybe Ward sent good vibes to the Oakland Raiders when they beat the division leading Cincinnati Bengals the day after Ward’s victory…Of all fifteen Manny Pacquiao fights I’ve witnessed live, his fight against Cotto brought in the most Filipinos to Las Vegas than any other Pacquiao before. Half of the passengers on the flight to Vegas from San Francisco were Filipino and there wasn’t a minute of my stay in Vegas where there was not a Filipino within the area…A friend informed me that Mayweather was in Las Vegas for the Pacquiao fight and was seen at nightclub at the Encore at Wynn Hotel. He was about to “make it rain” with hundred dollar bills but the crowd started chanting “Manny”, which Mayweather did not like at all…Something to think about for all the haters claiming Manny is on “something”: Pacquiao has weighed between 146lbs and 148lbs on the night of the every fight he been in starting with his third fight with Erik Morales three years ago.

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