Boxing

'Call Em Out Fridays': Cotto/Pacquiao - Odd Angles Make An Even Affair

Miguel CottoBy Vivek Wallace: This week's 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment shines the spotlight on two men who need little more attention than they've already received in wake of the recent buzz around the world of boxing. The old adage has it that "anything worth having is worth waiting for", and in this case, it took weeks upon weeks of grueling negotiations, but despite no ink touching the contracts just yet, the fight that fans around the globe highly anticipate is finally said to be sealed, and simply waiting for delivery.

In one corner, you have a warrior has hails from a small island that has arguably produced some of the biggest talent to ever land in the sport. To his opposite, you have an opponent - small in stature, but huge in effort - who enters the ring with the weight of a country whose fierce spirit burns eternally within forever. It's very common to decipher certain aspects of a fight, but perhaps it's the odd angles that stand out the most, as they will ultimately dictate the final terms in the end. In an effort to analyze those determining factors, we take a close look at a very key four:

Determining Factor #1: KO POWER OR CUMULATIVE EFFECT?: Both men have their share of knockouts, but clearly, one is viewed as being more powerful than the other. As it relates to Pacquiao, we have seen him destroy opponents with single punches, but against the elite, while he has been able to knock a few down, only Hatton failed to recover - which in the mind of some doesn't say too much. In Cotto, Pacquiao faces an opponent who has handled the power of the sports hardest punching welterweights (Mosley, Clottey, and Margarito). At points in his career, Cotto was viewed as being a bit chinny, but after his move up in weight, such problems remain a thing of the past. When you reverse this scenario, the level of intrigue tightens up considerably. That notion sparked by this question.....Who was the hardest puncher Pacquiao has ever faced? Not quite sure who your answer was, but now, follow that question up with this one....Is that man HALF the puncher that Miguel Cotto is? My money says absolutely not! Oscar De la Hoya and Ricky Hatton both failed to deliver flush shots, so that brings to light the argument of some that Pacquiao has yet to truly feel the power of a formidable opponent (in his prime) above the lightweight division, and even there, the power of Diaz compared to Cotto is quite a ways off. Granted, Pacquiao's speed and the frequent barrage of blows will make him effective, and there's no better closer in the sport today than Manny Pacquiao. That being said, Cotto arguably has more of a chance of ending the fight, based on the fact that he not only boast greater one punch power, but an accumulation of his body shots make him far more dangerous considering that Pacquiao has never faced such power. Pacquiao's angles and speed will be surprising to Cotto, but I'm not so sure I'm ready to say that he has more power than Antonio Margarito does - and it took him 11 rounds, (potentially with loaded gloves) to stop Cotto. Head to head on this topic, I think one man has much more of a chance to end the fight early than the other. That one man....MIGUEL COTTO.

Determining Factor #2: WEIGHT AND CONDITIONING: This is clearly one of the main things to watch. As odd as it is, we have seen Pacquiao slightly winded in the mid-rounds, but never during the championship rounds. Not even his harshest critics could deny that he always saves the best for last. In the case of Cotto, many questions loom. Against Mosley he did very little in the late rounds. Against Judah, it was the same thing. Against Margarito, he stated that the blood in his mouth that leaked from a bloody nose contributed to his fatigue. Be it true or false, it paralleled his ever-evolving reputation for not having enough in the tank when he found himself with the fight hanging in the balance. Recently, conditioning has been more of a focal point, yet against Clottey, the results were still somewhat non-apparent. When it comes to size, Cotto is clearly the bigger man, but so was Oscar De La Hoya against Floyd Mayweather jr. In that fight, those who didn't know learned that a little, more skilled, faster fighter can quickly gain an advantage against a bigger, not-as-fast opponent. Who has the advantage in these areas? Most would probably lean towards MANNY PACQUIAO.

Determining Factor #3: NEVER SAY DIE: Both men are known around the boxing world as true warriors, but one fundamental difference between the two speaks volumes. Pacquiao has lost a few fights, but they were all either on his back or on the score cards. Miguel Cotto has only one loss of his career, but it came while standing on his own two feet. Some would raise health concerns, but in an era of combat sports where every man wants to establish himself as an 'ultimate fighter', to know that Cotto suffered his only pro loss while standing certainly removes the shine from an otherwise stellar career. Both men have taken part in some of the biggest stages of the sport in recent times, but when the bright lights of Vegas flash on and the media hype begins to swirl, how will each man react in their greatest moment of adversity? Common knowledge says neither one of these men will quit, but history tells us that stranger things have happened. Which man is more prone to weather a fierce storm when the going gets rough? I say this one is EVEN.

Determining Factor #4: CORNER HELP: Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao have a bond only rivaled by that of a Father and his son. The chemistry, strength and ability that bleed from this union is second to none in the sport today. Not only is their bond a very genuine one, but the results rendered have made them a near flawless tandem, and no one in recent times has been able to change that. In the corner of Miguel Cotto, things aren't quite so simple. The man who practically molded him to who he is today currently sits idle, waiting for work, yet tensions from the past have kept him away from his nephew who now finds himself in need perhaps more than ever. Emmanuel Steward and a few other names have been tossed around, but no matter who comes in, with roughly 3 months remaining until showtime, conventional wisdom says that there's no way he could learn a new 'way' and be totally comfortable and ready come fight night. As of now, Cotto's corner chief remains a mystery of the unknown. The proverbial "X". In the English alphabet the letter "W" comes before the letter "X", but if Cotto plans to win this fight, he'll need to find the "X" before he can get that well coveted "W". The nod in this category goes to PACQUIAO.

There will be many other breakdowns of this fight between now and fight night, but when you get beyond the typical height/reach arguments, these four categories will clearly go the distance in a fight that many predict will not. The countdown is on....Let the buzz begin!

(Vivek Wallace can be reached at vivexemail@yahoo.com, 954-292-7346, Facebook and Myspace).

Article posted on 24.07.2009



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