Last big fight not only of the year, but really of the decade, Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as Manny Pacquiao takes on Miguel Cotto. So I’m here to break down one more fight for you this year or this decade. Take this all down, because as you and I already know I am truly THE guru of this sport, and even when I’m wrong I’m right, …right?
Before I dissect this for you, let me throw out a few accolades to a couple of other fighters, David Haye and Chad Dawson. Haye, as I predicted, beat Nicolai Valuev the giant Russian in a boring chess match where the way smaller, fleet and fast guy beat the huge, slow, methodical, stoic guy. This is very good for the boxing as Haye’s victory will pump some life into the Heavyweight Division dominated by one last name and two guys; Klitschko. Much more on this to come.
As for Chad Dawson, he looked much better, much more relaxed and did a much better job with his victory over Glen Johnson in their rematch. Chad fought smart and strategic and made Johnson look his every bit of his 40 years of age. Dawson can now move on from two fights with Johnson and two fights with Antonio Tarver and concentrate on what are many possible matchups for him. You’ve got Hopkins, Jones, the winner and maybe losers of Showtime’s Super 6 Super Middleweight Tournament, and guys like Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams who can move up.
Speaking of the Super 6, the way Jermain Taylor was thumped by Arthur Abraham in the last round and coming off the same thing that happened to him against another Super 6 guy in Carl Froch, I don’t see Taylor making it through this entertaining Tournament which continues next week with Mikkel Kessler taking on Andre Ward. Gotta go with Kessler in a very good scrap.
Okay, on to this weekend’s latest version of a super fight, or will it be? Yes, it could be but I don’t see it happening. Pacquiao is on fire and I just don’t think that Cotto will be able to get started early enough to stay off Manny’s firepower which right now is at an all time high. He has reached a crescendo of confidence that just exudes from every part of him. I have never seen a fighter more confident with his skills than Manny right now. This is a different kind of Manny being Manny, because it does not stem from arrogance but it is harvested in hard work and consistency and tremendous improvement over the past five years.
When I first had Pacquiao on my TV Show IN THIS CORNER in 2004 he said he wanted to improve every fight and eventually be, as he said by gesticulating his hand, raising it to the air, “I want to be at the top of the sport” and he, of course, now is. Not to mention and icon in the Philippines.
Manny, thanks so much to his coach, or now as he calls him his “Master” Freddie Roach, and also to his tremendous work ethic and willingness to learn, has improved by leaps and bounds. Everything about his game is better, and he now has become a complete offensive fighter. His speed, quickness and movement also make him very difficult to break defensively. He also has very strong legs to keep him going for the 12 rounds when need be.
His only weakness may be his strengths, he’s just so explosive right now that he could be a bit vulnerable if someone can really slip and counter, and or survive the early Pac Man fuselage, and actually frustrate Manny a bit. We have seen glimpses of this from Juan Manuel Marquez in both their fights, a draw and a razor close Pacquiao win, and by Eric Morales in their first fight, a unanimous decision win over Pacquiao in 2005 and Manny’s last defeat.
Listen Cotto is the type of fluid boxer that is capable of imploring some of those tactics in this fight. If he is forceful yet patient during the early going, he could make this very interesting. Miguel has fought much bigger guys than Manny like Antonio Margarito, and Shane Mosley and his last fight against Joshua Clottey, a fight I picked Cotto to lose and he almost did, but gutted it out and got the decision. By the way, I really wonder if that cut is fully healed as it has only been about five months since the Clottey fight and let us not forget it was not that long ago, July of 2008 when he was beaten badly by a perhaps a little bit more than just heavy handed Margarito.
Fighters need to have short memories some do and many don’t. I don’t think Cotto has recovered from that, and I don’t know whether he ever totally will. I think if Manny reminds him early of what happened to him at the MGM in July of 2008 it will all come undone for Cotto. I have seen Cotto seriously hurt by Chop Chop Corley and Ricardo Torres, and we saw him forced to surrender and take a knee against Margarito. We have also seen him defeat Shane Mosley and be very resilient in his win over Clottey.
What will be the end result Saturday night? I like Pacquiao to stop Cotto in round 6. Then boxing fans we can look forward to the next Super Fight in a new decade, and what fight is that you ask? You already know, the most meaningful fight in the world if Manny wins; Pac Man vs. Pretty Boy. Gonna have to wait a bit for me to break that one down, but hopefully it will be soon. How about before June and right back here in Vegas. Manny has some work to do first on Saturday night against Miguel Cotto. Enjoy the fights.
Couple of Boxing quick up jabs. As our FIGHTER OF THE YEAR, IN THIS CORNER awarded Manny a beautiful Limited Edition Muhammad Ali Portrait from one of IN THIS CORNER’S great sponsors, The San Francisco Art Exchange, for more in on them check out their website, sfae.com. Also I had a very interesting Halloween working a Don King fight card here in Las Vegas. Attached is a photo of my scariest broadcast partner ever, who did a nice job, Mike Tyson, as I’m writing this I see Mike has apparently been arrested at the LA airport for I guess allegedly bashing some paparazzi. Mike never gets in trouble when he hangs out with Smitty! Remember boxing fans hands up and chin down.