Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Smallish Manny Pacquiao comes up big for boxing after beating Miguel Cotto

Bill Gallo

First, let's throw out all of boxing's cliches. Such as:

"A good big man will always beat a good little man."

"Southpaw boxers - because of a tendency to fight too distant from their opponents - make for an uninteresting match."

"Generally, punchers have either a great left hook or terrific right hand, but hardly ever own two pulverizing mitts."

"A great little fighter is in above his head when he bridges too much over his natural weight."

"A little boxer cannot take the punch of the bigger fighter."

Then there is this rant: "Boxing as a major sport is dead and what's taking its place, is (God forbid) something called Ultimate Fighting."

Toss that one out in the garbage right away!

What I saw Saturday night was Manny Pacquiao making a joke of all the so-called truisms about his sport.

There was the kid from the Philippines doing everything a great fighter does. He was beating Miguel Cotto every which way and making the bigger man look like he didn't belong in the same ring.

Pacquiao had demonstrated his ring superiority before this bout. Why else would Time put his face on the cover of its international edition?

The fight was the most enjoyable one I have seen in years. Some of the boxing people I know gave Cotto a good shot to win or make it close enough that a point or two would mean the difference. Neither happened.

Cotto held his own and looked good in winning the first round and maybe the second. Then came the third, when Pacquiao caught Cotto on the chin with his right. Down went Cotto, but seemingly unhurt.

In the fourth, Pacquiao landed a beauty of a left hook, putting his man down again. Now, Cotto was feeling the the power in the little guy's hands.

In the fifth, it was apparent how this fight was going to go. Pac moving steadily on his man and Cotto backing up.

It was going to be a chasing game and in each subsequent round Cotto would be more on his bicycle. As Cotto ran, he hardly threw any punches.

You look at Pacquiao at work and you see a man who knows all there is to know about boxing. Although he has been well-schooled by Freddie Roach, a fine trainer in the Ray Arcel, Eddie Futch, Charley Goldman and Freddie Brown mold, Pac has his own natural talent that nobody can teach.

Here was a package of speed, grit and sudden inventive moves not seen since Sugar Ray Robinson and Willie Pep. Yes, he is that good.

I don't want you to think I'm taking anything away from Cotto, for before this meeting, he was justifiably regarded as one of the top fighters around.

But there he was running and taking a terrible beating. It was as if he was a heavy puncher on the receiving end.

In all my years of fight-watching, I've always noted which boxer had that winner's face. That's when the man does a fine job in a round and walks back to his corner with that ever-so-slight grin. He knows he's going to win.

Cotto, on the other hand, walked back to his corner every round with the look of a loser on his lumpy head.

I have heard that Pacquiao does not like to be compared to other greats, so I won't do that here.

"I am me, a fighter who goes out to win every fight I'm in," he says.

Okay. Let me say that this fireball is his own man and his fighting and winning are done with his own art and toil.

So, now I give another cliche - one I have used myself - that should be scrapped:

"Boxing has to have a good, popular heavyweight to lead its parade."

Let's change that to say: "And a little guy shall lead them."

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