Pacquiao-Cotto: Right Fight, Wrong Time

miguel CottoBy Michael Herron - After a mediocre summer that saw several high profile fights cancelled and/or rescheduled as a result of injuries, boxing looks to get back on track in the autumn of 2009. As of this moment however, the only major fight currently scheduled is a September 19th clash of pound-for-pound staples Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez. Other match-ups being discussed are David Haye vs. Vitali Klitschko, which could hopefully bring excitement to the heavyweight division and most intriguing of all is a highly anticipated match between the current pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto.

Negotiations involving Pacquiao-Cotto have been well documented and many boxing sites and sporting authorities have covered the story. Even as I write, the fight becoming a reality can be but a signature away. Though boxing fans are clamoring for this fight, it is my hope that patience and logic will intervene before any deal is reached. Pacquiao-Cotto looks great on paper and the thought of these two going at each other sounds like great fun, but it is this writer’s opinion that it is the right fight but at the wrong time..

When discussing the boxing business, it is always important to think in terms of risk vs. reward. It is not simply the fighters who are bound by this rule but also promoters and when it comes to Pacquiao-Cotto, Bob Arum and Top Rank are in a win-win situation. Both fighters are with Top Rank and Arum would be in total control of the promotion and revenue. Simply put, it is a promoters dream. It is no wonder why he is pushing hard to make the fight happen. On the other hand, Pacquiao and Cotto stand to benefit financially from this bout but in terms of their immediate future, it is a dubious situation. With the return of Floyd Mayweather, Jr., the self-proclaimed best fighter in the world, attention in the sport will soon shift from the heroics of Pacquiao to the greed, selfishness, and infamy of Mayweather. If he produces an impressive performance against Marquez the boxing world will clamor for him to face a bigger, tougher challenge; a challenge from the likes of Pacquiao and/or Cotto perhaps.

Herein lies the problem, Mayweather, who is renowned for making what he terms smart decisions will face Marquez, an opponent that will allow him to overcome rust, tune his skills, and maybe even look good while doing it. For Floyd, it is precisely the right fight at the right time. Other benefits include a nice payday, reclaiming a respectable position on the mythical pound-for-pound list, and putting himself in position for an often discussed mega-fight with Manny Pacquiao. The question then becomes, why would Pacquiao and Cotto want to fight each other in light of the return of Mayweather? One possible answer is that Pacquiao and Cotto are warriors and warriors look to make the best fights, therefore no need to wait around for Mayweather. Yet after September 19th there will be no need to wait, Mayweather, if successful against Marquez, will look to make a mega-fight in his next bout, the question is with whom. If Pacquiao and Cotto decide to face each other, they may be effectively taking themselves out the picture.

Pacquiao-Cotto, if the match should take place, is expected to be a tough and physically grueling affair. Cotto, in particular, has taken a lot of punishment the past few years from top opponents like Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, and Shane Mosley. Facing Pacquiao will not only drain him in terms of the 145 lb. weight limit, but is certain to once again test his threshold for pain. Pacquiao, though he has been untouchable against Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and David Diaz, has shown to struggle and take a lot of punishment when faced with fast thinking opponents like Juan Manuel Marquez and Erik Morales. Based on their fighting styles, these guys may inflict so much damage to each other that neither will be physically ready or even worse, taken seriously as Mayweather’s next opponent. Whether you are a fan or foe, one thing that many writers and aficionados can agree on is that a fighter must be on their A game and seemingly in the best shape of their life to defeat or even have a chance against Mayweather.

While Mayweather is likely to come out pristine against a great but overmatched opponent in Marquez, Cotto and Pacquiao may end their night as damaged goods. Essentially by accepting this fight, Cotto and Pacquiao are making it easier for Mayweather to defeat them if they indeed go on to face him in the future. Though Top Rank would scoff at the idea of Pacquiao-Cotto not happening considering the revenue it would generate, it is my opinion that it may be best to allow them to face different opponents in the Fall; opponents that will make them look good, keep them in the Mayweather PPV picture, and likewise keep the potential for a matchup between themselves alive as well. Though Pacquiao and Cotto are huge draws on their own accord they each would stand to make more money from a PPV with Mayweather. It would also benefit Top Rank to match subsequent fighters from their stable against Floyd. Most of all, fans have clamored to see Mayweather face off against the likes of Pacquiao and Cotto, it can now happen. The only thing preventing it, ironically, is Pacquiao vs. Cotto.

Final Note: My view of Pacquiao-Cotto, though pessimistic, is based on my belief that Pacquiao and Cotto will be a tough and damaging fight for both men. If Pacquiao should lose, his claim as the best pound-for-pound evaporates and therefore leaves a battle for pound-for-pound supremacy against Mayweather in shambles. The fight could go on but will lose its luster. If Cotto should lose, he likely loses his chance to fight Mayweather period. Then of course a scenario where one man dominates, such as Pacquiao’s most recent performance over Ricky Hatton, is also possible, yet unlikely. Though it appears the tone of this piece favors Mayweather, I simply recognize that Mayweather-Pacquiao and Mayweather-Cotto are two of the biggest fight that can be made in the sport. Why Pacquiao-Cotto should serve as a prelude is unprecedented; it truly may be the matchup that kills two birds with one stone.

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Article posted on 08.07.2009

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