Friday, November 13, 2009

Matchup of the Year

I agree that for gambling purposes, Miguel Cotto versus Manny Pacquiao is an even matchup, a coin flip, but I don't see the fight itself being particularly competitive. I think the winner is going to pull away down the stretch. The reason is that while both guys have their definite strengths, they are not reasonably matched in said strengths. Pacquiao is light years faster than Cotto; Cotto is a lot stronger than Pacquiao, and has withstood ferocious onslaughts from bona fide welterweight bangers, while Pacquiao hasn't really gotten cracked since he was at 130 pounds. The guy that can impose his strengths on the fight, that can render the other's obsolete, is going to win it rather easily. If Cotto can deal slow Pacquiao with a steady jab, consistent body punching, maybe some switch-hitting, and perhaps even a borderline low blow or two, he's going to make things a lot easier on himself. If he can make Pacquiao gun-shy about wading into range, which means answering Pacquiao's combos immediately and consistently, Pacquiao doesn't have the outside game to beat Cotto. If Pacquiao stays out of the trenches because he gets drilled every time he goes near Cotto, the Puerto Rican is going to walk away with an easy decision.

But if Cotto can't get off, if Pacquiao's speed has the same effect it did on Hatton, De la Hoya, and Diaz, Saturday's fight will have a result similar to those fights: Pacquiao looking like Bruce Lee working a heavy bag, while the other guy hits only air as his face swells up.

Both scenarios seem totally plausible to me, which makes predicting a tricky task. From a fan's perspective, neither pick feels quite right; I'm an inveterately biased Cotto admirer, but I love Pacquiao, too, and what fan isn't intrigued by seeing a potential all-time great take on his biggest challenge? Ho-hum, I'm going with Cotto by UD.*

As a principled objection to the horrific undercard, I refuse to make any future predictions.

*Further reason for the Cotto pick: I have a dog named Cotto whose personality very much resembles the fighting style of the man for whom he was named. This week, while playing with a bone and consequently oblivious to any potential danger, Cotto the dog was hit in the ribcage by a maniac Windstar driver. Cotto spun around like a bottle top several times, remained prostrate as the cowardly offender drove off (and I hope the guilt continues haunting you, wherever you are!), and there was much worry that he would not get back up ever again. Miraculously, not only he get up, but within hours he was bouncing around as though the collision had never happened, growling at mutts that eyed his food and chewing on the furniture like a beaver building his dam. That's gotta be a real-life metaphor for the Margarito fight, right? Both Cottos got blasted in what was, in retrospect, a completely unfair fight, but, noble beasts that they are, they don't stay down. They cleaned the blood off their face, let their wounds heal, got a few tattoos, learned to do a better job avoiding oncoming traffic, and came out stronger than ever.

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