By Edgar Macabasa – In the aftermath of Manny Pacquiao’s two-round annihilation of Ricky Hatton last May 2, and the “unretirement” of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. on that very same date, several tantalizing matchups have been tossed around as a possibility for the Pacman in the later part of this year. The four most anticipated of these are the possible superfights Pacquiao-Marquez III, Pacquiao-Mayweather, Pacquiao-Mosley and Pacquiao-Cotto.
If Juan Manuel Marquez manages to defeat Mayweather this July, there is no doubt that Pacquiao’s next opponent would be the proud Mexican in a fight that would rightfully be billed NUMERO UNO: No. 1 POUND FOR POUND for all the marbles.. However, this is a long shot given that he is currently a 1-4 underdog in the betting odds owing to Mayweather’s superiority over him in all areas except in the heart department. Thus, this fight has a very low probability of ever happening.
Of the three other prospective Pacquiao opponents, Mosley and Cotto have openly expressed their desire to fight Pacquiao. On the other hand, Mayweather has never hinted that he is interested in fighting Pacquiao in any of his media appearances. In fact, in a one-on-one interview with Brian Kenny at ESPN Sportscenter a few days ago, Mayweather did everything to downplay Pacquiao’s ranking as the top pound for pound boxer in the world by pointing out that Pacquiao had been knocked out twice before by lesser opponents (never mind if that happened 10 years ago while Pacquiao was a malnourished teenager fighting for scraps at 106 and 112 pounds) and that he had been outboxed by Erik Morales (never mind if Floyd has not even fought against an opponent as great as Morales except perhaps a faded de la Hoya). In various statements made before that, Mayweather has openly stated that Pacquiao is not at his level. As anyone who has closely followed Floyd’s career would know by now, these statements are similar to Floyd’s reasons why he is not fighting Shane Mosley—i.e. Mosley has five losses and Mosley is not a PPV attraction. The latest word from Floyd is that he won’t give Manny 50/50 if they ever do fight?! All rational people know that Manny deserves at least 50% against PBF. A 55/45 split in Manny’s favor is even justifiable based on their recent accomplishments. For Floyd to say this, makes one suspect that he is ducking Pacquiao ‘coz we all know Manny won’t accept less than 50%. Even respected Ring magazine writer Doug Fischer believes that Mayweather has no intention of fighting Manny Pacquiao whatsoever. So although Pacquiao-Mayweather is the biggest fight in boxing and a fight that absolutely must happen, let’s not put our hopes too high on it happening.
So that leaves us with only two probable fights: Pacquiao-Mosley and Pacquiao-Cotto.
Pacquiao’s mentor Freddie Roach has stated several times that the de la Hoya fight at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds was a one-time excursion and that henceforth Pacquiao will be fighting at the junior-welterweight limit of 140 pounds. Roach also said that if any of the fighters residing at welterweight and above wants to tango with Pacquiao then they must boil down to 142 lbs. for the fight to happen. There are many who decry this demand as Pacquiao just trying to get an unfair advantage. On closer examination, however, this is just an attempt by Roach to level the playing field for Pacquiao on the premise that making weight would weaken Mosley and Cotto a bit. Though Pacquiao fought de la Hoya at 147 lbs. he weighed in for that fight at an official weight of 142 lbs. which was the highest weigh-in weight of his career. For his fight with Ricky Hatton, Pacquiao weighed in at 138 lbs. So the contention that Pacquiao should fight Mosley and Cotto at the welterweight limit of 147 since he fought de la Hoya at 147 holds no water. For the record, Pacquiao has never fought as a welterweight his whole career. His highest official weight was 142 lbs., which is closer to junior welterweight than welterweight.
On the other hand, Mosley and Cotto are too big for Pacquiao. While Pacquiao’s highest fighting weight was 148 ½ lbs. Cotto and Mosley balloon to more than 160 lbs. come fight night. Cotto is 5’7” and has been fighting as a welterweight since December 2006 while Mosley is 5’9” and has a reach of 74 inches and has been fighting as a welterweight and Junior middleweight since September 1999.
For his part, while Mosley has openly expressed his desire to fight Manny Pacquiao, he has never stated that he is willing to boil down a few pounds to make that fight happen. Thus, at the moment this fight has a slim chance of taking place.
Which leaves us only Miguel Cotto as the most probable candidate for Pacquiao’s next opponent.
A Pacquiao-Cotto fight could be made easily since they are both Top Rank fighters. Cotto would readily agree to a 60-40 split in Pacquiao’s favor because he stands to make more than twice his biggest payday by far if that fight ever happens. Notably, Cotto has also openly expressed his willingness to come down to 144 lbs. to make a fight with Pacquiao happen and we know that although Freddie Roach would like to make that fight happen at 142, Pacquiao would have no qualms in fighting Cotto at 144.
As far as how Pacquiao matches up with Cotto goes, they are about evenly matched on paper, with Cotto having a slight advantage in age and height. Cotto is 28 years old, stands at 5’7” and has a reach of 67” while Pacquiao is 30 years old, is 5’6 ½ “ tall and has a reach of 67”. Cotto has stopped all his opponents at 147 except Mosley who he defeated via decision and Margarito who stopped him. Most people believe Cotto will have the size and power advantage over Pacquiao. However, Pacquiao is a lot more explosive and faster than Cotto so it about equalizes Cotto’s size and power advantages.
If Pacquiao-Cotto takes place at 140 pounds, Manny knocks Cotto out, but we know Cotto will never fight at 140 again. At 144 which Cotto says is the lowest he would go, it is a pretty even fight that has the ingredients to be a great fight if it happens.
So, I say Pacquiao should fight Cotto to enhance his legacy and help his climb up the all-time great list.
Another great development if Pac fights Cotto is that it will leave Mayweather without a dance partner if he wins over Marquez in July. Then Mayweather will have no choice but to fight Shane Mosley or retire again, both events which will be good for boxing. Unless, of course, Floyd calls up Victor Ortiz, one of the names on his so-called hit list.