Is this the end for Manny Pacquiao?
By Robbie Pangilinan, Las Vegas, Nevada (Nov 11, 2009) DoghouseBoxing (Photo © HBO - PPV)  
Manny Pacquiao has had had amazing victories these past few years. He had climbed the boxing ladder higher and higher and he does not seem to have any plans of going down.

Marco Antonio Barrera, Eric Morales, David Diaz, Oscar dela Hoya, Ricky Hatton – the Pacman has beaten them all – fighters bigger than he was when he fought them.

He has moved from one weight division to the next and won -- leading some analysts to wonder, “When will enough be enough?”

Many predict that Pacman’s November 14 Las Vegas bout with Miguel Cotto might be “it” – his first defeat in years. Cotto’s victories against Joshua Clottey, Shane Mosely, Zab Judah, Carlos Quintana, and Ricardo Torres were quite astonishing. Although he suffered a TKO loss against Antonio Margarito, Cotto has proven many times that he is a beast inside the ring. Cotto’s vicious “punches in bunches” thrown from the head to the body tires his opponents and sent them to their doom.

But the beast is not at his best all the time. Analysts have seen several weaknesses in Cotto’s arsenal throughout his career. His Achilles' heel might be his inability to box strongly and accurately when he moves backwards. Cotto’s matches with DeMarcus Corley, Shane Mosely and Antonio Margarito exposed this weak point.

Also, it is no secret that Cotto always leaves himself open for the right hand. In fact, it is probably now an official statistic that he blocks one of four rights with his face. He is also known to lean forward when he comes in, making him vulnerable to uppercuts, which he suffered in his fights against Shane Mosely and Zab Judah.

Another critical, but less noticeable flaw of Cotto has to do with his stance. An online analyst said that he “holds his hands high next to his ears... his body lean and shoulder angles are all wrong as well. He offers too much of his chest, and not enough front shoulder. Too often he leans in and lets his head get in front of his front foot.”

Cotto has not worked hard enough to improve his stance, Pacquiao might catch him at his worst, and if Pacman launches his straight left at him, the Puerto Rican might end up like Hatton in the hands of the number one pound-for-pound boxer today.

Pacquiao isn’t really fond of the uppercut, but if has prepared well enough against Cotto, he could use this weapon in their Nov. 14 (Nov. 15 in Manila) fight.

Speed and stamina are the issues against Cotto. Yes, Cotto may have thrown off faster fighters, but Manny is arguably the fastest there is today. He is also known to have superior stamina, and he gets stronger as the fight progresses.

Cotto needs to match up with Pacquiao’s rhythm. He has to have perfect timing to knock out the Filipino champion. If Pacman exhausts him, it might be his end.

Yet another big flaw on Cotto’s camp is he does not have a Freddie Roach by his side.Cotto’s recent split with his uncle-trainer Evangelista left him with no trainer. In tough times like these, a mentor like Roach is a must. Roach is now getting Manny ready for the fight of his life, as he knows what Cotto is capable of. He is said to have a perfect game plan against Cotto, who will definitely be Manny’s toughest opponent to date.

Although the Pacman has beaten the likes of Dela Hoya and Hatton, Roach knows that Cotto “is a different kind of warrior”. He has noticed some weaknesses, though. He points out that Cotto does not have a strong body and Manny needs to “break him down in the earlier rounds and work on the body a lot”. Still, Roach is confident about Manny’s prowess, saying it’s a winnable fight.

Pacquiao, along with Roach, had surely studied Cotto’s weakness. Last June, Pacquiao watched Cotto struggled past Joshua Clottey in New York. Manny said he was impressed with the Puerto Rican boxer, but added that he saw some weaknesses but would not tell people what he saw.

Pacquiao, who has world titles in six different weight classes, expects his speed to spell the difference against Cotto’s superior size. Pacman knows that Cotto is bigger and stronger, but says, “My speed is my advantage. Size is not a big difference. He’s a little bigger than me but what’s in the heart is what makes the difference.”

Pacquiao shone the brightest when he beat Dela Hoya in 2008, and he considers his KO against Ricky Hatton the best of his career. But, in a recent interview, Cotto gave this warning: “I’m not Oscar de la Hoya. I’m not Ricky Hatton. I’m Miguel Cotto. Everyone knows what Miguel Cotto is capable of doing.”

Cotto said he is unfazed by Manny’s speed, saying, “No matter how much speed he has, when you have good defence, you can stop speed.”

Pacman, who boasts of 49 wins, 3 losses, 2 draws and 37 knockouts, climbs to the ring on November 14 in Las Vegas in a welterweight showdown with Miguel Cotto, who has 34 wins, 27 knockouts and only 1 loss.

Let’s all hope and pray that Pacquiao’s streak continues. RMP.

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