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Breaking Down Cotto vs. Pacquiao: And the Winner Is…

Manny Pacquiao Miguel Cotto Cotto-PacquiaoBy David Berry: Less than three months separate salivating fight fans from the November 14 catch weight showdown in Las Vegas between WBO Welterweight Champion, Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs), and pound-for-pound kingpin, Manny Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs). At stake is Cotto’s WBO Welterweight Belt, along with the newly-minted WBC Diamond Belt, though most fans know there’s plenty more at stake than title straps.

Also up for grabs are legitimate claims to pound-for-pound supremacy within the boxing world, and a seemingly guaranteed match-up with the winner of the September 19 bout between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (39-0, 25 KOs) and Juan Manuel Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs).

And while Internet chat rooms are abuzz with passionate support for both combatants, who will really have the edge on November 14? The theories are numerous, but the old adage still rings true: Styles make fights. It’s one of the reasons Kelly Pavlik was able to vanquish Jermain Taylor on two occasions, and why Bernard Hopkins was able to completely outclass Pavlik in a separate bout, despite the fact that Taylor had beaten Hopkins twice himself. Whose style suits them best in this fight?

The vast majority of analysts seem to agree that Pacquiao’s speed and footwork have the potential to give Cotto fits, and conversely, that Cotto’s power and potent body attack embody threats that Pacquiao has likely never faced in his long and illustrious career. However, both fighters have proven in the past that they have the tools necessary to adapt to their opponent’s attack. Cotto managed to neutralize the speed and footwork of Zab Judah in 2006 and Shane Mosley in 2007, and Pacquiao quickly put to bed any concerns over his apparent size and strength disadvantages in his dismantling of Oscar de La Hoya and Ricky Hatton earlier this year.

Leading up to Pacquiao’s last two fights, critics argued that his opponents possessed physical characteristics that would spell his doom. Both times they were proven wrong. However, assuming a normal rehydration between the weigh-in and fight night for Cotto, its safe to say that Cotto will represent the biggest obstacle that Pacquiao has ever met in his career, both literally and figuratively. Will this finally be the fight where Pacquiao meets his match in someone who’s simply too big for him?

Or will this be a fight that turns out exactly as odds-makers are predicting? The early 2-1 odds in favor of Pacquiao spell the belief that Cotto won’t be able to keep up with a fighter with the speed, pop, and footwork that Pacquiao possesses.

Critics can argue advantages and disadvantages until they’re blue in the face, but one point that everyone should agree on is that this fight was named “Firepower” for a reason. For as long as this fight lasts, fans can expect high-paced action from bell-to-bell. Cotto and Pacquiao have built fan-friendly reputations because of their penchant for delivering and absorbing punishment, not because they were content to Compu-box their way to a points victory. And despite your allegiances, fight fans from every corner should be thrilled that this bout has come to fruition.

What does the future hold? Over the next three months, how the boxing landscape will be painted is anybody’s guess. Will we see Pacquiao vs. Mayweather in 2010? Cotto vs. Marquez? Or some other variation among the four fighters? Time will tell. Let the countdown begin.

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