It's rare that a boxing match crosses into the mainstream, but the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto fight on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas has managed to do it.
A public relations firm recently polled celebrities, athletes and, yes, media, to get their picks and comments on the fight. Below are a sample:
Former heavyweight champion George Foreman, Cotto by decision: "I think there would have been a good opportunity for Pacquiao to win if he faced Cotto before he fought Joshua Clottey, but now Cotto is thinking defense. I think Cotto is going to pull out a decision, and now because of the terrible beating he took against Margarito, he knows he can't get into a knockdown drag-out brawl. He's going to be smarter, and I think Cotto wins in a 12-round decision."
Former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, Pacquiao by KO: "I pick Manny Pacquiao by knockout. I think he will knock him out in 7 or 8. Manny just has too much for Cotto."
Donald Trump, CEO, Trump Corp., Pacquiao: "Pacquiao and Cotto are two of the best welterweights out there. While both fighters possess tremendous punching power and heart, I believe that the speed of Pacquiao will earn him the WBO welterweight belt. If Pacquiao is victorious, Floyd Mayweather Jr. would be the next fight that I and all fans would want to see."
Sean "P Diddy" Combs, Cotto: "If Cotto reconnects the way he was three years ago, he may give Pacquiao a problem."
Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens, Pacquiao by decision: "I think Pacquiao will win in 12 rounds, but if there is a knockout, I think it will happen in the ninth. Pacquiao is too quick for Cotto."
Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins, Pacquiao by KO: "Manny's quickness on his feet and landing punches will help to win on a knockout."
Shane Mosley, WBA welterweight champion, Cotto by decision: "It's going to be an interesting fight, and I think Pacquiao better take it very seriously! I think Cotto will win because he's a little bit bigger and is a real welterweight. His power may be enough to overcome Pacquiao's speed. I think Cotto wins in a decision."
Felix Trinidad, former welterweight and middleweight champion, Cotto by decision: "Manny is a big puncher and a good boxer, but he has never faced a natural welterweight like Miguel. Cotto is the most dangerous fight of Pacquiao's career. On the night of the fight, Pacquiao will still not be a full welterweight. And Cotto is very strong. As the fight plays out, around rounds seven, eight and nine, that's when Cotto starts taking over. I think Cotto will win by decision, but he might even get a knockout. With all of my heart I think Miguel Cotto will win."
Bert Sugar, boxing historian and Hall of Famer, Pacquiao by TKO: "This is a fight of speed and accuracy for Pacquiao, against the body punching of Cotto. Vegas has always been Pacquiao's home, and the Evel Knievel of boxing will leap over another opponent to come away with the win. Pacquiao also has a secret ingredient called Freddie Roach, whose battle plans bring tears to the eyes of General Robert E. Lee. Cotto is a gutsy and gritty fighter, but I think Pacquiao stops him on cuts and wins in the eighth round."
Before I get to your questions and comments in the mailbag, I'd like to remind you to follow me on Twitter where we can discuss boxing and all the big fights.
In the lead-up to Manny Pacquiao's bout with Miguel Cotto, a large number of critics have been downplaying Pacquiao's recent wins. Downplaying the win over Oscar De La Hoya makes sense, but in regard to the win over Ricky Hatton, I think it's a bit bombastic for people to say that Hatton was over the hill. He's only 31 and six months prior to the Pacquiao beating, Hatton thoroughly dominated an outclassed Paulie Malignaggi. Malignaggi's no elite fighter, but he's right at the cusp. I agree that Cotto is going to be Pacman's most difficult opponent to date, but to write off Hatton doesn't do justice to either Hatton or Pacquiao.
Jonathan, I get your point, but I wasn't saying that Hatton was over the hill in the Pacquiao bout. I never thought Hatton was remotely close to Pacquiao skill-wise. The only question I had was whether Pacquiao could deal with someone who was much bigger and stronger than he who, in fact, was still in his prime. De La Hoya was clearly dehydrated and wasn't the fighter he once was. But Hatton was in his prime when he met Manny and my only concern in that bout was whether Manny could handle the size. But Cotto is a far better opponent than Hatton and people are noting that.
Saturday's fight between Manny and Miguel should be an exciting bout. I love both fighters' styles and think both are great, but being of Filipino descent, I have to cheer for Manny. Even though Las Vegas bookmakers have Manny as the favorite, a lot of experts have the advantage going to Miguel because they feel he will be too big and strong for Manny to handle. I just looked at the tale of the tape and Miguel is not that much bigger than Manny. He is only a half-inch taller, their reach is the same and their overall size is very similar. I know that come fight time Miguel will probably weigh about five to 10 pounds heavier than Manny, but I see that as a detriment to Miguel. Manny definitely has the speed advantage by far and I think that will ultimately prove to be the X-factor in the fight. As long as Manny doesn't try to stand and go blow for blow with Miguel, he should win. What do you think? Am I just blinded by my Filipino pride?
San Jose, Calif.
Your scenario is certainly realistic, Gerard. The best case for Cotto is to impose his strength on Pacquiao and wear the Filipino star down with his attacks to the body. Pacquiao obviously needs to use his speed. I'm picking Pacquiao, but part of me doesn't totally agree. I think Cotto has slowed since the Margarito fight and that's ultimately what sways me in Pacquiao's direction, but the beauty of this fight is that you can legitimately make a case for either guy.
I really like these two boxers and I think that they could have waited a bit longer to face each other. Although, for Pacquiao, there seems to be a smaller field to chose from and he would have to challenge either Shane Mosley or Floyd Mayweather. Anyhow I will watch this live on Saturday as it's a great bout. I feel like I have no choice but to root for Cotto, though at any other time it would be Pacman. I also believe Manny has reached the weight level where he's too small (ala Roy Jones, who hit John Ruiz a lot after the ref jumped in but never hurt him). Pacquiao doesn't even beat De La Hoya in his prime, because in my opinion, Oscar is just too big. I will be shocked if Manny hurts Cotto.
Jose L. Munoz
Manny's speed is such that he gets off punches fighters can't see coming and fighters are almost always hurt most by punches they don't see. I have no doubt that Manny can hurt Cotto, just as I have no doubt that Cotto can hurt Manny. Two things to watch for, in my opinion, are whether Cotto can slow Pacquiao with his body assault and whether Cotto can cut off the ring and make Manny fight in a confined space. If he succeeds in both of those areas, it will go the Puerto Rican's way. But cutting off the ring on a fighter of Pacquiao's speed, quickness and ring generalship isn't easy.
Two of the better pound-for-pound fighters are Paul Williams and Chad Dawson, but they are both having problems getting quality opponents. I've heard that Dawson could move down to super middleweight if he wanted to and I believe that Paul Williams has fought a few fights at middleweight and if he wanted to, could add the weight needed to fight at super middleweight. I believe that they both also have contracts with HBO, so the networks should not be a problem. Paul Williams has a Dec. 5 fight in Atlantic City, N.J., with Sergio Martinez. If he wins why not make a fight midway through next year between Williams and Dawson and then have the winner look to fight the winner of the "Super Six" tournament after that?
I think a Williams-Dawson fight would be a very intriguing bout. I'm betting it doesn't happen any time soon, but it might be a mid-to-late year possibility for 2010.
With Alfredo Angulo giving a main-event type performance on Saturday and rumors that he was sick in the Kermit Cintron fight, how long do you think it will take for him to be the star of an event? Do you see a fight between Angulo and Antonio Margarito anytime soon?
Angulo is an entertaining fighter and one of the best at 154 pounds. He'll be a star before much longer. He just needs a bit more exposure. I wouldn't get carried away with a win over Harry Joe Yorgey, but Angulo is a quality fighter. Margarito is eligible to return from his suspension in February. Promoter Bob Arum said if he's reinstated by the California State Athletic Commission, he'd try to rematch Margarito with Cotto if Cotto wins on Saturday. If not, though, an Angulo-Margarito fight would be a scintillating battle and one that would be a great "Boxing After Dark" headliner on HBO.