When I first heard about the possibility of a match between Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao being discussed I took it as just a rumor. A cloud of hot air being blown just to bring attention. “Roach knows better than that” were my thoughts back then. Nevertheless this next November 14th we get the chance to see the rumor become history. How was that possible? The answer is simple; That Roach is a wise cat!
The acclaimed trainer and architect of the masterpiece that has become the Filipino idol’s career scandalized the boxing world when he not only announced that his pupil would fight Oscar De La Hoya but that he would knock him out. There were many people boxing and non-boxing related including the very same Miguel Cotto who questioned the seriousness of the matchup. “Pacquiao is too small, that fight does no good to boxing” some said. “That fight is too dangerous for Manny” said others. The result is now well known and it was followed by another demolishing victory this time against Britain’s Ricky Hatton at 140 pounds. The next “victim” is Puerto Rican champion Miguel Cotto whom the vast majority of the boxing world has tagged as the underdog. Without any intentions of taking anything away from the 122 to 135 pounds Manny Pacquiao I invite you to take a look behind the smoke and mirrors so we can have a clearer idea of what we can expect come November 14.
There were many reasons why Roach decided it was a good idea to challenge De la Hoya. We will not entertain the details so we can stay on topic but it is known that the weight was a determining factor. Oscar probably thought that his physical advantages would be enough to get by the Pacman even knowing it would take a miracle for him to perform at 100% in at a weight he hadn’t visited in years. Pacquiao hit the Golden Boy with everything but the stool. The same Golden Boy who declared later that during the fight he got to a point where all he wanted was that Manny landed a finishing blow that could put him out of his misery. That blow never came and Oscar decided to quit on his stool. After the fight, Roach declared that they would campaign at Jr welter, he implied that the welterweight venture was a one night stand.
At Jr welter the Pacman knocked Ricky Hatton out in impressive fashion. It should be noted that Hatton had been knocked out impressively by Mayweather before. Not only that, he had been put on queer street by Juan Lazcano and Luis Collazo, whom with 15 ko’s in 30 fights seems to go shopping for boxing gloves with Ivan Calderon. With two perfect wins above the lightweight division limit Manny established himself as the top Jr welterweight with no signs of a welterweight move. Until Roach found another window of opportunity.
Reports of the violent end of Cotto’s relationship with his uncle/trainer/manager go international. Same thing with Cotto’s love for Puerto Rico’s night life and to top all that off he looks vulnerable against Joshua Clottey in a fight that brought too many memories of Antonio Margarito. The prey looks wounded and its time to make the move. Recognizing 147 pounds is still a dangerous turf, Roach managed to make it a title fight while forcing the defending champ to stay bellow the welter limit. He has also started the psychological warfare trying to gain all the advantages he can.
Thinking about all the details, this fight reminds me a lot about Trinidad-Hopkins. The boxing world is still in awe with Pacquiao’s recent victories and he’s got a fan base that has elevated him to heroic proportions. Just like Trinidad fans did with Hopkins at the time Pacquiao fans seem to ignore that Miguel Cotto isn’t just any titlist. Tito’s train came to a sudden stop when it entered the domains of a great fighter. Reality struck in such a way that there are people who still haven’t dealt with it.
I understand Roach’s proceedings. The odds seem good for the opportunity and a victory would get him and Manny to historic boxing heights. Nevertheless while analyzing both fighters performances at or near the weight they will fight, I find no indicative that Manny Pacquiao is near Miguel Cotto’s level as a welter. The weight issue could once again be a factor in favor of the Pacman team but we understand team Cotto has taken the necessary measures to minimize its effect. Reports from the training camp in Tampa allude to the pleasant chemistry among the group members as opposed to previous camps. What most people had signaled as a flaw in the change of trainers might have actually turned into a strength.
Much like in 2001 a nation will understand that their hero is not invincible. This time it’s not Puerto Rico’s turn. For our Filipino friends, the post-Manny’s loss era begins. A great little fighter whom I see being dominated by a great big fighter. Cotto wins before the sixth round but don’t tell anyone because even though I don’t gamble money, with Cotto as the underdog there’s a good chance of hitting a good prize.