Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pacquiao, all time great

For $65 bucks, I was not planning to buy this fight.  I had thought about trying to recruit a dozen or so friends but I didn't think I could stir up enough interest.  I figured I would save the effort for the Pac-Mayweather fight.  Fortunately, someone at my place for poker night wanted to see the fight enough to chip in more than half.  Even my wife couldn't resist that.  You know HBO's 24/7 series knows how to lure in the customers if they can even convince my wife to loosen the family coffers.

Without this generous guest benefactor, I would have missed the fight of the year.  (Okay, so HBO will replay it this Sat but whatever.)  I must admit, I was extremely worried in Round 1 when Cotto's jabs seemed to effectively neutralize Pacquiao's fight plan.  Pacquiao's jabs and straight lefts, which had singularly worked so devastatingly against Oscar, were being stymied by Cotto's solid jabs.  Prefight, the whole match had been framed as Pacquiao's speed vs the strength of Cotto.  For Manny, the question was whether he could take a real punch from a true welterweight champion in his prime, since the only welterweight he had faced was a rapidly declining and soon to be retiring Oscar.  The expert's consensus was that for Pacquiao to win, he would have to outbox Cotto and avoid getting caught by Cotto's heavy left hook, which most believed he could do.  In the aftermath, Pacquiao claimed that he was merely testing Cotto's power early on, trying to ascertain his strength as well as learn the gameplan he was up against before unleashing his own attack.

Rounds 2-4 were worth the price of PPV itself.  Especially in round 2, we saw a true slugfest that we rarely see these days.  Both Cotto and Pac were getting rocked with hard punches and it was difficult to tell who had the upper hand.  While I gave Cotto round 1, I slightly favored Pac in round 2.  Then came the knockdowns.  The 2 punch combinations that dropped Cotto in round 3 and round 4 were shocking to say the least.  Many would say that without the knockdowns, Cotto might have taken those rounds.

Cotto was never the same.  From round 6-9, it was like watching Pacquiao work a punching bag.  After round 10, I was really hoping that Cotto's trainer would have the sense to throw in the towel.  Even though Cotto wanted to finish the 12 rounds, it was painful to watch him retreat and try to hang on.  Personally, I think it was a gutless decision by the trainer to not stop the punishment.  Then again, Cotto seemed like a stand up guy and deep down, I was hoping he could muster some kind of attack and defense to at least finish the fight.  Throughout watching 24/7, I got the feeling that he wasn't marked by arrogance as many title holders are - see Mayweather.  Even after the fight, he was humble, courteous and professional.  I hope he is able to rebound and regain a belt again.  You gotta love boxing, there's always multiple belts that can be won.  While I'm on the topic, I hope Margarito comes clean about his obvious and revolting cheating in the Cotto fight.  He should be banned for life for endangering someone else's life like that. 

Manny became the first fighter to have held titles in 7 weight classes: flyweight  (limit) 112 lbs, junior featherweight 122 lbs, featherweight 126 lbs, junior lightweight 130 lbs, lightweight 135 lbs, junior welterweight 140 lbs, and now welterweight 147 lbs.  That unprecedented achievement is incredible.  Think about it.  He has put on 30 pounds of muscle while perhaps getting FASTER.

I've always appreciated Pacquiao's brash fighting style the most.  He seems willing to mix it up with anyone instead of opting for a defensive strategy, which brings me to Floyd Mayweather.  Mayweather enhances his persona by doing a lot of boisterous talking outside of ring but inside the ring, he is actually a very conservative and defensive fighter.  Sometimes, it is actually a little bit boring, especially in comparison to Pacquiao's fights.  While possessing superior quickness over most opponents, he seems to allow them to come at him and make them miss while raining punishing and lightning-quick counter punches in retreat.

I am not entirely sure if Pacquiao can beat Mayweather but it will be one for the ages.  They have to fight.  There is no other fight that will be more anticipated than this.  I heard that the purse could be as much as $40 mil each.  If anyone postures for more than a 50% share, which the Mayweather camp is likely to do, it will be because they want to duck the fight.  We'll see what the PPV numbers for Pacquiao are for Sat and then we'll know if he has as much drawing power as Mayweather's 1 million buys vs Juan Manuel Marquez earlier this year.  Mayweather also doesn't like to fight under 147 which could pose a problem for Pacquiao since he is probably right around 143.

Like Freddie Roach, I hope Manny beats Floyd, then retires.  He would go down as one of the best pound for pound fighters of all time.  He could go become president of the Philippines or something.  But he would have nothing left to prove.

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