Cotto-Pacquiao head-to-head analysis
Many believe that this is Manny Pacquiao's time. However, that doesn't mean his fight against Miguel Cotto on Saturday in Las Vegas will be as easy as his last three fights were. Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank
MIGUEL COTTO vs. MANNY PACQUIAO
When: Saturday, Nov. 14
Where: MGM Grand, Las Vegas
TV: HBO Pay-per-view, 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET ($54.95)
Weight: Welterweight (145-pound catch weight)
Title(s) at stake: Cotto’s welterweight belt
Also on the card: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Troy Rowland, 10 rounds, middleweights; Daniel Santos vs. Yuri Foreman, 12 rounds, for Santos' junior middleweight title; Alfonso Gomez vs. Jesus Soto Karass, 10 rounds, welterweights; Matvey Korobov vs. Kerry Hope, six rounds, middleweights.
Height / Reach: 5-7 (170cm) / 67 (170cm)
Hometown: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Turned pro: 2001
Record: 34-1 (27 knockouts)
Trainer: Joe Santiago
The Ring rating: No. 7 pound for pound; No. 3 welterweight
Titles: Junior welterweight (2004-06; vacated); welterweight (2006-08; lost it to Antonio Margarito); welterweight (2009-present; defeated Michael Jennings for vacant title).
Biggest victories: Kelson Pinto, Sept. 11, 2004, TKO 6 (won first title); Carlos Quintana, Dec. 2, 2006, TKO 5 (won vacant welterweight title); Shane Mosley, Nov. 10, 2007, UD 12; Michael Jennings, Feb. 21, 2009, TKO 5 (won vacant welterweight title); Joshua Clottey, June 13, 2009, SD 12.
Only loss: Margarito, July 26, 2008, TKO 11 (lost welterweight title).
Height / reach: 5-6¾ (169cm) / 67 (170cm)
Hometown: General Santos City, Philippines
Turned pro: 1995
Record: 49-3-2 (37 knockouts)
Trainer: Freddie Roach
The Ring rating: No. 1 pound for pound; junior welterweight champion
Titles: Flyweight (1998-99; stripped for failing to make weight); junior featherweight (2001-03; vacated); THE RING featherweight (2003; vacated); junior lightweight (2008; vacated); lightweight (2008-09; vacated); THE RING junior welterweight (2009-present).
Biggest victories: Chatchai Sasakul, Dec. 4, 1998, KO 8 (won first title); Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, June 23, 2001, TKO 6; Marco Antonio Barrera, Nov. 15, 2003, TKO 11; Erik Morales, Jan. 21, 2006, TKO 10; Morales, Nov. 18, 2006, KO 3; Barrera, Oct. 6, 2007, UD 12; Juan Manuel Marquez, March 15, 2008, SD 12; Oscar De La Hoya, Dec. 6, 2008, TKO 8; Ricky Hatton, May 2, 2009, KO 2.
Losses: Rustico Torrecampo, Feb. 9, 1996, KO 3; Medgoen Singsurat, Sept. 17, 1999, KO 3; Morales, March 19, 2005, UD 12.
Draws: Agapito Sanchez, Nov. 10, 2001, TD 6 (Pacquiao cut); Marquez, May 8, 2004, D 12.
Skills: Both fighters are underrated boxers with ring versatility. Pacquiao’s skill is overlooked because of his dynamic speed and athleticism. Cotto’s technique and savvy is overlooked because of the brutal manner he breaks down most of his opponents. Pacquiao throws better combinations and has superior footwork to Cotto, but the Puerto Rican star is the superior counter puncher and the more efficient pressure fighter.
Power: Pacquiao has exhibited damaging punches above 135 pounds in his last two fights, but his power is still a question mark against a true welterweight who is in his prime. Cotto’s power has been effective against the best 147 pounders in the sport. He doesn’t possess one-punch knockout power, but he is very heavy handed and causes a lot of damage (particularly to the body). Cotto’s power comes from his physical strength and sharp technique. He uses it to either gradually break down his opponents (as he did against Carlos Quintana and Zab Judah) or to earn respect (as he did against Mosley and Clottey).
Speed and athletic ability: Is there any active fighter who can even come close to matching Pacquiao’s breathtaking speed, agility and explosiveness? Not since a prime Roy Jones Jr. has the sport seen such a dynamic physical talent. Floyd Mayweather Jr. can match Pacquiao’s speed and reflexes but not the Filipino’s frenetic work rate and activity. Cotto is a strong fighter and a very good athlete but his hand speed, reflexes and coordination are merely above average.
Defense: Neither fighter is a defensive wizard. Pacquiao lifts his head as he unloads his punches. Cotto leans his chin forward when he lets his hands go. Pacquiao is vulnerable to the jab, straight rights and counter hooks. Cotto is vulnerable to the jab and uppercuts from either hand. Pacquiao keeps a reasonably high guard and often uses his legs to maneuver away from punches. Cotto also keeps a high guard and is fairly adept at picking off incoming shots with his gloves and rolling with punches.
Experience: Pacquiao is a 14-year veteran (he turned pro at 16) who has 19 more fights than Cotto. He fought for his first world title (against excellent flyweight beltholder Chatchai Sasakul) 11 years ago, when Cotto was still an amateur. However, Cotto is very experienced for a 29-year-old fighter with less than 10 years in the pro ranks. Cotto has fought 11 fighters who have held major titles, including a future hall of famer in Mosley. Pacquiao has also faced 11 titleholders (not including his return matches with Morales, Barrera and Marquez — all of whom are future hall of famers).
Chin: Part of what makes Pacquiao and Cotto the exciting fighters they are is the fact that their chins can be dented. Pacquiao was rocked and buzzed in featherweight and junior lightweight bouts against Morales, Marquez and Oscar Larios. Cotto was dropped by Ricardo Torres in a 140-pound bout, and wobbled by DeMarcus Corley and Judah. Pacquiao was stopped twice early in his career, the last time being the result of extreme weight drain (from trying to make the 112-pound flyweight limit). Cotto’s 11th-round KO loss to Margarito is under suspicion in light of the glove tampering with which the Mexican mauler was charged earlier this year.
Conditioning: Cotto is always in tip-top fighting shape but Pacquiao takes his conditioning to another level. The Filipino icon only has one gear in training and that’s full throttle. He has the stamina to work more than 15 rounds on the mitts without breaks. Roach wears out before he does. And his road work puts some of the world’s best middle-distance runners to shame.
Wear and tear: Both men have taken their lumps but Cotto has engaged in grueling extended bouts — against Judah, Mosley, Margarito and Clottey — in recent years.
Corner: No contest. Roach is a three-time BWAA Trainer of the Year award recipient. Santiago is Cotto’s former conditioning coach. ‘Nuff said.
Outcome: Both men will start the fight carefully, respecting the other’s power and skill, but Pacquiao will strike first, buzzing Cotto with right hooks and left uppercuts. However, just when it appears that Pacquiao has Cotto reeling, the welterweight titleholder will counter the in-coming southpaw with left hooks, right crosses and choice body shots, which will hurt Pacquiao and back him off. The middle rounds will be a tactical battle in which both fighters look to establish their jabs and take control of the center of the ring. Cotto’s patience and poise will win out as Pacquiao grows impatient and attempts to bomb the bigger man from mid-range. Cotto will catch Pacquiao with his jab as the smaller man rushes in, but just when it appears that the Filipino hero will be backed up and trapped along the ropes, he will explode forward, catching and rocking the Puerto Rican star with body-head combinations. Cotto will survive these wobbly moments by either clinching when Pacquiao is in close or by switching to southpaw as he maneuvers out of harms way. Both fighters will sport battered faces going into the championship rounds, but Cotto’s cuts and lacerations will be more severe than Pacquiao’s and the blood that pours into his eyes will prevent him from applying the kind of pressure he needs to win the final two rounds.
Prediction: Pacquiao by close decision.