With the biggest fight of the year looming, I called up a friend of mine for another good old-fashioned boxing chat. Here’s what followed:
AJ: Well, like I thought with the Ricky Hatton fight, if it’s going into the later rounds, something bad is happening to Manny Pacquiao. Miguel Cotto needs a certain amount of time to adapt and to read. You can stun him. I can see Manny Pacquiao definitely being able to reach him, definitely being able to stun him.
JD: Ya, it has to do with how Miguel Cotto’s initial defense is positioned. It’s that earmuff thing. He puts that right hand on the side of his face. He doesn’t hover it near his chin at all at first, and he can get caught with a fast shot through the center. That’s exactly what Carlos Quintana did, that’s exactly what Zab Judah did. I was watching the Quintana fight, and [commentator] Al Bernstein pointed out that Quintana caught Cotto cleanly with left crosses, but they didn’t hurt Cotto. That was the difference, he said. If Pacquiao cannot hurt Cotto with those same punches early, and he gives Cotto time to adjust, it’s not goin’ to be very good for him.
AJ: That’s the key right there time to adjust. If Cotto can adjust early enough in the fight, I think he can shock Pacquiao with how good of a boxer he is. I think he showed in the Mosley fight that he’s a very good, adaptable boxer.
AJ: My other question: Is Manny Pacquiao going to be aggressive? Is he going to go on the attack? Because one thing that Cotto is pretty good at doing is countering. He might lose early rounds, but look at [the Marquez fight]. When he slows down just a little bit, suddenly those counters matter more.
JD: Ya. If you watch the Quintana fight, even though it looks like Cotto is just stalking Quintana, listen to Quintana’s corner. They say, “He’s counter-punching you, he’s counter-punching you. You have to watch out for that.” And that’s what he was doing. He was landing straight right hands, he was switching stances, he was landing left hooks. He was boxing with Quintana even though he was moving forward.
AJ: And that’s what he needs to do against Pacquiao.
JD: Originally, I picked Pacquiao by late stoppage, but I agree with what you said earlier. The later it goes in the fight…unless Cotto gets tired. But he’s only really gotten tired against Margarito, Mosley, and Clottey. And he’s now up against arguably a much smaller man than those guys. And all three of those guys are extremely durable. How durable is Pacquiao? Pacquiao was durable at 130, but post-130, he hasn’t really been hit.
AJ: Cotto might slowly figure out Pacquiao.
JD: If Pacquiao can’t hurt him, I think he loses. He’s not going to wear Cotto down. He’s not Clottey. He’s not Margarito. He’s not that big. He’s not going to wear him down, I don’t think.
AJ: That’s another thing for Cotto, too. I think a lot of these other boxers have gone into the fight thinking, “I’m bigger than Manny Pacquiao. I’m going to control him with my strength and my body attack and he’s just gonna roll over eventually because I’m so much bigger.” Cotto doesn’t do that against fighters like this. He’s a good, smart boxer.
JD: And while Cotto does not have the speed of Pacquiao, he’s very deceptive with his speed. Very good timing. His body motion seems very plodding, very steady. But then, he’ll throw punches and they’ll be quick. They’ll be fast. He’s not slow. He looks slow, but he’s not.
AJ: Another question: He has a really inexperienced trainer. Can Santiago find that fatal flaw in Pacquiao, like many have faith that Roach can find that fatal flaw in Cotto?
JD: People say that Cotto trains himself, and it does seem that way. Especially the way he adapts in fights. He says he doesn’t watch tape. He has a very old-school way of going about it. He’ll look at you for the first couple rounds, first couple minutes, and then he’ll go about his business. I think we’ll get the same Cotto we always see, not one that’s coming in with a specific strategy, whereas I imagine Pacquiao is given a specific gameplan every single time.
AJ: I do like how Cotto is preparing for Pacquiao by putting a picture of him on the heavy bag. I always wonder why more boxers don’t do that.
JD: That’s kinda Rocky-like, isn’t it?
AJ: That’s one of the highlights of Cotto’s camp (laughs). Still, I think this fight is all about timing.
JD: Timing? You mean, like, what time they’re at in the fight?
AJ: Ya. What happens quicker? Does Cotto adapt quicker, or does Pacquiao execute quicker?
JD: I still think it’s a pick ‘em fight, man. I’m leaning towards Pacquiao, because I’d like to think he can punch hard enough to where he can actually hurt Cotto. And I’d like to think he’s enough of a fighter to get the better of Cotto in exchanges. But it’s still 50/50, because I don’t know that. I don’t know how durable he is. I don’t know how hard he hits against a real welterweight. It’s up in the air. Do you still think it’s a 50/50 fight? I feel like you’re leaning more towards Pacquiao than I am.
AJ: I AM leaning more towards Pacquiao. As much as we list the flaws Pacquiao has and the advantages Cotto has, Pacquiao has shown me time and again that it makes no difference. He’s just one of those few boxers who is in a class of his own right now.
JD: He’s an anomaly.
AJ: It goes back to his handspeed. What he may lack in size, and may lack in power, his handspeed can make up for.
JD: Good closing thought. Something to think about. Hope the fight’s a good one.
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