Thursday, December 01, 2022  |


Ten trainers weigh-in on Pacquiao-Cotto showdown


The big fight is almost upon us and many hardcore fans are still unsure of who will win the fascinating welterweight matchup between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto.

If you’re one of those fans who are still on the fence, don’t be hard on yourself. Pacquiao and Cotto match up in a way that causes even world-class trainers to pause when they are asked who will Saturday’s showdown. More than a few veteran boxing coaches, including former trainer of the year Buddy McGirt, told that the fight was too evenly matched to make an educated guess.

However, we found 10 experienced trainers who were willing to a pick winner and tell us how and why that fighter would prevail. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

Ken Adams

I like Pacquiao by knockout.

The fight comes down to wear and tear for me. I believe Pacquiao is the fresher of the two fighters. He hasn’t been in any major wars recently. He hasn’t had tough fights like Cotto has in recent years.

Those hard fights with (Zab) Judah, (Shane) Mosley, and (Antonio) Margarito have taken their toll, especially on his skin because it seems like Cotto gets cut in every fight these days. I also question if he’s recovered from the Margarito beating. I’m not so sure that he has. He didn’t look that good against (Joshua) Clottey. He was very lucky to win that one. I have to ask how much has the punishment he’s taken will effect him when he fights Pacquiao. I have to wonder if he will he have flashbacks to the Margarito fight when Pacquiao cracks him with a good punch.

I think Cotto will get stopped on cuts by the middle or late rounds. Pacquiao won’t get him out of there early because Cotto has learned some lessons in those hard fights. I know he’ll survive and make some adjustments when he gets hurt, he’ll and move a little if he has to, but Pacquiao will keep catching him and busting him up. (Pacquiao is) quicker and more explosive and that will be the difference.

Adams trains junior lightweight contender Jorge Linares and middleweight prospect Matt Korobov, who fights on the Pacquiao-Cotto undercard.

Roberto Garcia

I’m picking Pacquiao by knockout.

It’s a really close fight on paper, but I think Pacquiao is too fast and too strong right now. I know that Cotto is a real welterweight, and Pacquiao isn’t, but I still think Pacquiao is the stronger fighter.

I also have faith in Freddie Roach. He is an expert at having his fighters prepared for these kinds of fights and I believe what he says about Pacquiao. He’s right 99 percent of the time when it comes to Pacquiao.

I think Pacquaio will get a late-rounds stoppage after beating up and cutting up Cotto. I don’t think it will be a cold knockout like we saw with Ricky Hatton. Cotto will come strong and he’ll have his plan, but Pacquiao will cut him up, bruise him up, and basically put a spanking on him.

Garcia trains titleholders Brian Viloria and Steven Luevano, who defends his featherweight belt against Juan Manuel Lopez on Jan. 23, and prospects Brandon Rios and Miguel Garcia. The former 130-pound titleholder will also work the corner of Alfonzo Gomez on Saturday, when The Contender alum fights Jesus Soto-Karass on the televised undercard of Pacquiao-Cotto.

Joe Goossen

I’m picking Cotto to be the spoiler in this fight.

Provided that he’s had a good camp, better than the camp he had for Clottey, I think he’s got the tools to outbox Pacquiao.

The camps are a big factor in how this matchup plays. I know Cotto started camp early to make sure he made 145 pounds, but he still needs to have had one of his best ever to beat Manny. Pacquiao, on the other hand, was dealing with typhoons in the Philippines, jumping from one place to the other and finally winding up back in Hollywood. There’s a lot to be said about having a nice, settled, comfortable camp, and having a good rhythm going into a fight. I don’t know if Pacquiao has had that, but some guys eat that crazy stuff up. Pacquiao is one of them. But when you face a very good counter-puncher like Cotto, and someone who knows how to fight southpaws, like Cotto does, maybe you need to have had a great camp to succeed.

Pacquiao has faced better boxers and counter punchers, such as (Marco Antonio) Barrera and (Juan Manuel) Marquez, but they weren’t as big as Cotto. At this weight, this is the best all-around boxer-counter puncher that Pacquiao has faced.

This is going to be a real test for Pacquiao. I want to jump on the Pacquiao bandwagon because he’s a juggernaut right now, almost impossible to stop. What stops a guy like that that? It has to be someone stronger than he is, somebody with a nice punch, but also with some slickness and craftiness. And it has to be someone who can defend from the southpaw stance. I think Miguel Cotto fits the bill. Cotto can stop the juggernaut because he’s so skillful. If he’s had a better camp than he did for Clottey, I think the answer is yes, he can fulfill the role of the spoiler because of his skill and his ability to fight southpaws.

I have this curious feeling that Cotto can do better against this particular southpaw than people think he will. I remember watching Cotto beat Ricardo Williams Jr. in the amateurs. (Editor’s note: Cotto won a 28-22 decision against Williams at a USA-Puerto Rico dual meet in Tacoma, Wash., in 2000.)

I’ve never seen anyone dismantle such an unpredictable, athletic southpaw as Ricardo Williams the way Cotto did that day. Williams was an incredible amateur boxer, one of the best in the world at the time, and Cotto handled him. He’s been on my radar ever since.

The only thing that worries me is Cotto’s propensity to cut in recent years, because Pacquiao is such a sharp puncher. But if he’s had a great camp and he can avoid getting cut, he can really box something special Saturday night because he’s such a smart and calculating guy.

I think he can do damage while he out-boxes Pacquiao. If he’s able to get into a groove I think he can do more than just win a decision, I think he can stop Pacquiao late.

Goossen trains heavyweight hopefuls Malik Scott and Manuel Quezada, Italian welterweight standout Daniele Petrucci, and undefeated lightweight prospect John Molina, who fights 130-pound contender Martin Honorio on Nov. 28.

Rudy Hernandez

I like Cotto by late stoppage.

I think Cotto is pound for pound the best fighter at the moment. He can fight on the inside, outside, against the ropes, southpaw, and he handles himself like a true veteran when hurt.

Manny has looked great against (David) Diaz, (Oscar) De La Hoya, and Hatton, but come on, his last competitive fight was against Marquez. None of Pacquiao’s last three opponents can compare to Cotto. Of course, he looked fast and strong in those fights, but who was he fighting? De La Hoya had been off too long and Father Time caught up with him. Think about this, “Pacman” hit Oscar with everything but can you tell me if at anytime, De La Hoya was on shaky legs? Sure he was puffed up, but remember, fighters in their thirties start to show the effects of punches, just ask Julio Cesar Chavez. As for the Hatton fight, well if (Floyd) Mayweather could knock him out it was a given that Pacquiao, being more aggressive, would stop him earlier. And Diaz? Well, he was just out of his league.

I thought Pacquiao would win those three fights, but this time, I have to go with Cotto. Manny is far from being as strong or as heavy handed as Margarito. If Marquez can hurt (Pacquiao) at 130 pounds, and make it such a close fight, and if Oscar Larios could buzz him, I see him getting stopped Saturday night.

I expect to see a great fight, regardless of who wins, but I think Cotto's strength and ring savvy will be the difference.

Hernandez trained Jose Armando Santa Cruz and Urbano Antillon to lightweight contender status and currently works with former bantamweight title challenger Nestor Rocha.

Eddie Mustafa Muhammad

I see Cotto winning by knockout.

Everything was set up to favor Pacquiao in this fight, including the weight, but I think that catchweight of 145 pounds will bite Pacquiao in the ass. Having Cotto come in a pound or two lighter than usual will only make him faster.

Cotto is going to go to the body, he has to do that to slow him down. Simple jabs — doubling and tripling them up — will get him inside as he applies pressure. He’s going to keep Pacquiao backing up and when Pacquiao counters, he will counter the counters. Pacquiao still comes in with his chin held high. I think Cotto can catch him.

If Cotto does what he should do, apply pressure and a good jab and works the body, I see him winning by late stoppage.

Muhammad trains THE RING’s No.1-rated light heavyweight Chad Dawson, former heavyweight title challenger Michael Grant, and heavyweight prospect Bowie Tupou.

Henry Ramirez

I like Pacquiao by knockout.

I expect a great fight, a hell of fight, a real dog fight. The only thing that would surprise me is an early round knockout.

But based on his string of wins and everything else he’s got going for him — the incredible hand speed, great footwork, and what I’m sure will be a solid game plan from Freddie Roach — I have to favor Pacquiao.

I can see him boxing Cotto and then landing something big that tilts the fight in his favor, but I also see Cotto doing some damage downstairs. At the end of the night, I think the quicker hands and feet will win out.

Ramirez trains heavyweight contender Chris Arreola, who fights Brian Minto on Dec. 5, lightweight fringe contender Josesito Lopez, and junior featherweight prospect Johnatan Arrellano.

Naazim Richardson

I favor Pacquiao.

Everyone at (Cotto and Pacquiao’s) level can fight. Everyone up there is special. It comes down to who has the better strategy and who can follow that strategy.

In this situation, I believe Pacquiao is faster. And I don’t buy into Cotto being bigger. Everyone has been bigger than Pacquiao and he keeps beating everyone’s ass. He’s big enough to fight you. Pacquiao matches up with Cotto better than David Haye matched up with the giant [Nikolai Valuev] and we saw what happened there.

Pacquiao is strong and has that hand speed. He could cut Cotto open, which would be a problem. All things being equal, Cotto is capable of beating Pacquiao. Him having a new trainer, though, I’m not so sure. Cotto didn’t seem to have a set strategy when he fought Joshua Clottey. No one looks too good against Clottey but he didn’t seem to have a set strategy. He needs that to deal with Pacquiao. So I lean toward Pacquiao in this fight. I think that his connection to his corner is a little stronger. It’s an excellent fight, though.

Richardson trains future hall of famers Bernard Hopkins, who fights Enrique Ornelas on Dec. 2, and Shane Mosley, who takes on fellow 147-pound beltholder Andre Berto on Jan. 30.

John Scully

I like Pacquiao by decision.

I think Freddy Roach is an exceptional strategist and will have a great plan in place for Manny to follow. I believe the plan will be to stay off the ring ropes, keep Miguel turning in circles and to use very fast, sudden strikes. I think Manny will follow the plan, pick his shots and surprise Miguel with his hand speed and power and win a decision over 12 rounds.

Scully trains cruiserweight contender Matt Godfrey and junior featherweight fringe contender Mike Oliver. The former light heavyweight title challenger also co-trains featherweight prospect Matt Remillard.

Ronnie Shields

I’m picking Cotto by decision.

I don’t think Pacquiao is strong enough to wear him down like Margarito did. The only way to beat Cotto is to wear him down early and there’s no way Pacquiao can do that.

I think Pacquiao is going to move around a lot and rely on his speed and that’s not going to keep Cotto from doing his thing and taking advantage of Pacquiao’s mistakes.

Cotto has the ability to put a lot of pressure on Pacquiao and make him fight the kind of tough fight that he hasn’t fought in a long time.

He can’t go toe to toe with Cotto. He may try in the later rounds, but early on he won’t do that because Cotto will be at his strongest early on in the bout.

People underestimate the jab of Miguel Cotto and his boxing skills. He’s a better boxer than he is a power puncher, and I think he’s going to have to use that underrated skill against Pacquiao because (Pacquiao has) got so much speed and he’s such a smart fighter. Pacquiao will out-speed (Cotto) in the early rounds but Cotto will catch up to him and once he does that, and Pacquiao feels the power, I think Cotto’s size advantage will take over.

I think we’re going to see Cotto win a decision. I don’t think he’ll knock Manny out. If the fight is stopped it will be stopped in the corner.

Shields trains former unified lightweight titlist Juan Diaz, who rematches with Paul Malignaggi on Dec. 12, contenders Rocky Juarez and Kermit Cintron, and prospects Omar Henry and Jermell and Jermall Charlos.

Shadeed Suluki

I think Cotto will win a decision.

I can see him fighting Pacquiao like Marquez fought him, laying back, drawing him in and aggressively counter punching him. I can see Cotto frustrating Pacquiao and Pacquiao’s the type of fighter who will get antsy and start jumping in without thinking. Eventually Pacquiao will take chances and make mistakes. Freddie Roach is a good strategist and Pacquiao is good at following orders but he’s only as good as when he listens to Freddie. When he gets hurt or in trouble, I think he stops listening and switches to his instincts.

Everyone’s looking at the fight he had with Margarito, and it could be a factor in Saturday’s fight, but what people tend to forget is that Cotto he was winning that fight up to a point. It’s not like he got totally blown out. I thought he was looking very good for many rounds.

I still think Cotto is a dangerous fighter, more than what people think. I think he can handle the southpaw stance, and when he beat Shane Mosley, he proved that he can fight and box a stronger and faster opponent and make adjustments. Pacquiao is talented but he’s not the smartest fighter in the world. It’s just that he’s so fast and explosive and can throw so many punches that makes him dangerous.

I didn’t think he could to Ricky Hatton what he did. But Hatton didn’t make adjustments after that awful first round. Cotto is a lot better than Hatton. He can make adjustments, and he seems to be more focused now than he was for his last two fights. I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people by outboxing Pacquiao.

Suluki trains heavyweight fringe contenders Lamon Brewster and Audley Harrison, cruiserweight fringe contender Rico Hoye, and undefeated light heavyweight prospect Ismayl Sillakh

So there you have it. Ten trainers with various takes on the Pacquaio-Cotto matchup and an even split between picks. Five favor Pacquiao, the betting favorite and darling of the boxing media, and five favor Cotto, the underrated defending welterweight titleholder.

If you thought this poll would help you make your pick, you were mistaken. We’ll all just have to wait until the fighters settle matters in the ring Saturday night.