Pacquiao-Cotto. This is it. Will Manny Pacquiao win his seventh world championship in a seventh weight class? Or will Miguel Cotto play the spoiler’s role and break an entire nation’s heart? Brace yourselves for the fight of the year.
What will we all see at today’s fight? Pacquiao go will into the fight with a tactical game plan. For starters, he won’t be mixing it up with Cotto to make the fight a slugfest. Pacquiao will use his speed to land his jab-straight combinations, and he’ll occasionally use a left hand lead from the southpaw stance to confuse Cotto in the same way he stunned the taller and bigger Oscar de la Hoya last year. He’ll then use his furious hand speed to land more blows from all angles, and then shift away from Cotto’s counters with his spins and lateral movement. The quickness of his hands will be complemented by the quickness of his feet when he spins away and avoids Cotto’s left hooks to the body. Don’t expect Pacquiao to take Cotto out in a couple of rounds. We have to give credit to Cotto who’s naturally bigger and who has received the big blows of the likes of Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley. Cotto will be able to handle Pacquiao’s punches and might even go the full route. It’s thus crucial for Pacquiao to endlessly pepper Cotto with a rain of punches. All these should soften Cotto up and make ripe for the picking in the later rounds.
The X-factor for the Pacman will still be his speed, both in hands and feet. He should move around Cotto just as quickly as he throws his punches to the point that Cotto ends up dazed and confused. Speed and power will be the key to winning, and it doesn’t have to lead to a knock-out win. Should it go the full route, Cotto will have received a tonful of Pacman’s fists anyway. But should the volume of blows lead to a KO win, that would be so much sweeter.
Cotto will be very dangerous if Pacquiao elects to slug it out from a flat-footed stance. While the Pacman may win the exchange in such a situation due to his hand speed, Cotto could end up with the more telling blows, and a lucky punch could hurt a stationary Pacquiao. This will also be true if Pacquiao decides to stay on the ropes and the corners. This gives Cotto an excellent opportunity to bully his way to make Pacquiao a sitting duck. He’ll use his heft and size to push Pacquiao to the corner or the ropes then land those killer left hooks to the body. Cotto will obviously look for his left hook even if it has to be a lead punch. We can expect Cotto to target Pacquiao’s body early in the fight, not minding getting hit in the process. Since he’s taller, he doesn’t need to crowd Pacquiao and can in fact land his hook from a distance. And should the exchange of blows be up close and inside, Cotto will have the edge.
The interesting thing that I’ll be looking for is if Cotto has worked on his agility to chase Pacquiao. Cotto is not known to be fast and quick, but he managed to move around well in his fight against Mosley. What he needs to do is copy what he did against Mosley and more. Can he keep up with the lateral movement of Pacquiao and manage to somehow pin him down occasionally to land his left hooks? We’ll surely find out today, won’t we?
Another X-factor that all Pacquiao fights bring to the local shores is how he literally picks up the economy of the country just by fighting. All of Pacquiao’s biggest fights have given the local service industries of all major cities and towns a big lift. These fights have drawn crowds and income to movie theaters, restaurants, bars and even local barangay halls. The SM theaters started it all when they would show Pacquiao’s fights in their Manila movie theaters while nobody else did. Each theater was packed despite the hefty price of P500 per ticket. This proved that people were willing to shell out precious money just to watch the Pacman. Today? All major movie theaters will carry the Pacquiao fight, charging up to P600 for a ticket. Restaurants (small and big), bars, hotels and other public places will open at 7am (on a Sunday) to receive the thousands of fans who are expected to watch the Pacman fight. Ticket prices here range from P100 all the way to P1,000. Restaurants will thrown in a buffet lunch (and/or breakfast), free-flowing coffee, and drinks. Private households will also shell out anywhere between P150 to P1,500 just to have the watch fight live in the comfort of their homes. At the end of the day, the local economy receives an instant adrenalin rush in the form of a boost of income for local businessmen. And this is true across the country.
Simply amazing. No other event can capture a united nation the way Pacquiao does. Political differences are set aside as the entire nation rallies behind the Pambansang Kamao. A lazy Sunday is turned into one big cheering performance for a country looking for modern day heroes.
And when he wins today, Manny Pacquiao will prove once again that yes, the Pinoy can.
Time-out: Happy birthday to our mother, Pressy Navarro! Let’s all pray for the recovery of Z Gorres who won his fight Friday night in Las Vegas. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org