Pacquiao/Cotto – Expect Firepower but No Knockout
By David Berry: With just nine days separating the world from the fight of the year, experts and fans alike have heated up the “Firepower” debate to its boiling point. You’ve heard the arguments – Cotto is stronger; Pacquiao is faster. Pacquiao is a 2-1 favorite; Cotto is a reputed odds-beater. Naturally, if you’re a fan of one and not the other, you’re likely to believe whichever side of the argument favors your fighter. In reality, though, when you throw two premier fighters into a ring with 8 ounce gloves on each fist, all bets are off. When the bell rings, words cease and actions take over.
Each fighter’s ability to adapt to his opponent’s style will ultimately determine who holds the edge in this fight. Cotto’s strength advantage only matters if he lands power shots. Likewise, Pacquiao’s speed advantage only matters if he gets his punches off before getting hit back.
Let’s take a look at both fighters. There may be no man in boxing today who makes better in-fight adjustments than Miguel Cotto. In addition, no fighter has exhibited the ability to add skills to his arsenal from fight-to-fight better than Cotto. When the bell rang for Cotto’s 2007 matchup with Shane Mosley, Cotto proved to be more than a brawler by not only beating Mosley, but besting him at his own game by out-boxing him. He also brutally dismantled Zab Judah, another slick and quick southpaw who, theoretically, had the tools necessary to win the fight. In both cases, any perceived advantage his opponent had was rendered moot by Cotto’s supreme timing and sustained pressure.
For all of his strengths, Pacquiao has never exhibited the same adaptability, nor has he had to. When faced with adversity, his stamina and power alone have usually given him an edge over his opponents. In life and death battles against Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao relied upon his never-ending supply of energy to outlast Marquez. Against Cotto, though, that same tactic could get him knocked out.
Pacquiao is indeed faster, and Freddy Roach has a valid point when he says that Cotto is hittable. A particular concern for Cotto is his susceptibility to the uppercut. When you consider Pacquiao’s speed and power, that vulnerability becomes extremely unnerving. Cotto has proven vulnerable to other punches as well; particularly the straight left hand against southpaws. However, it’s the uppercut that, loaded hand wraps or not, has made him seem mortal in past fights. When you add into the equation Pacquiao’s ability to throw punches from all angles, and with power, you quickly understand that “Firepower” couldn’t be a more accurate expectation for this fight.
I only have one prediction for this fight, and it’s not on whom the winner will be – it’s that this will be a brutal fight that goes the distance. If Freddy Roach expects Pacquiao to ‘hit and not get hit,’ then he’ll likely be fighting on his toes instead of sitting down on his punches and throwing power shots. For comparison’s sake, expect Pacquiao to fight with a strategy similar to the one on display when he dismantled Oscar de La Hoya. Don’t expect to see Pacquiao physically imposing himself in the way that he did against Ricky Hatton.
Likewise, don’t expect Cotto to take his powerful body attack to Pacquiao in the early going. He’s proven time and time again that he’s not only comfortable when he’s boxing, but he’s also extremely adept at doing so. Cotto is sure to employ a well-timed counterpunching strategy and evaluate the effects of his power shots as the fight goes on. If he’s able to develop a sustained attack to the body, it won’t be until the middle rounds of the fight that he explores it.
Questions remain, but they’ll be answered soon. Pacquiao vs. Cotto is just 9 days away.
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