Photo-Chop: Bret “The Threat” Newton
Over the past few weeks I have been straddling the fence when it came to making a firm pick for the clash of Miguel Cotto vs. Manny Pacquiao. In my mind there were very clear signs that had me teetering over to the Cotto side of the fence yet no matter how much I saw signs that this is Cotto’s fight to win, a little voice in my head kept saying, “Hey Dummy, don’t you remember you wrote that you would never pick against Manny again no matter what the circumstances?”
Listening to that little voice I remained noncommittal, but that all changed with a press release I received today that read:
PARTY LIKE A PACQUIAO!
MANNY PACQUIAO AND HIS MP BAND TO PERFORM LIVE ATPOST-FIGHT CONCERT AT MANDALAY BAY’S EVENTS CENTER
This Saturday! November 14, Beginning at 10 P.M.
The press release went on to say something about Manny’s MP band performing after he plays a little chin music on Miguel Cotto. To me that was the proverbial “Icing On The Cake” and with that I have become a firm believer that this fight will won by Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto.
From the Philippine training camp that had natural typhoons wreaking havoc along with internal storms created by members of his own team to on camera arguments with his trainer to Freddie Roach, I was starting to question whether or not Team Pacquiao would even make it to the mainland before an implosion of epic proportions rendered Pacman unable to fight.
Once stateside things “seemed” to stabilize for a moment but then rumors of too many celebrities and too few punches thrown started to circulate and those rumors were witnessed firsthand by yours truly at the open media workout last week.
Oh sure, these are open workouts and I know Manny and Freddy are not going to tip their hand but 99.9% of the other Wildcard workouts saw nothing but Manny busting his butt. Usually this included a time for stretching followed by 5-6 rounds of hard shadow boxing and then 10 rounds of rapid fire mitt work with Roach that usually saw Freddie telling Manny that was enough only to have Pacquiao beg for “One More!”
Last week Manny stretched for about a minute, shadow boxed (lightly) for about a minute and followed that with a mere 4 rounds of mitt work. Pac then climbed out of the ring and doddled around on the bags before calling it a day. Contrary to the famous quote, “Manny wasn’t being Manny”….not by a long shot. Throw in a stint with Mario Lopez in the ring and Mickey Rourke lurking in the background and it was hard to convince me that Manny was 100% focused.
Meanwhile on the other side of the ring Miguel Cotto held a very low profile camp in Florida that is being called by those in the know, the best camp Cotto has ever had. The Puerto Rican’s open media workout in Los Angeles that was held a day before Pacquiao’s was a no nonsense workout that included a good 30 minutes of warm up up followed by 10-11 rounds of Mitt work where there was hardly a break in between rounds and by the time he was done both Cotto and the ring’s floor were drenched with the sweat of a “real” workout.
After the Cotto workout the PR team was setting up the area for the roundtable interview when someone said to Bob Arum, “Cotto is going to sit here, you will sit here next to him.” “I DON’T WANT TO SIT NEXT TO HIM,” barked a irritated Arum who relented after being talked to quietly by cooler heads.
And therein lies the other reason I am picking Cotto. His own promoter, who at one time almost had me 86′d from Top Rank events for a scathing piece I did on Cotto’s popularity in Puerto Rico, has turned his back on the fighter he worked so hard to get to the top.
Arum was attached at the hip with Pacquiao at the grand arrival in Las Vegas this week. When Cotto arrived to “Sin City” Arum was nowhere to be seen.
Don’t think for a moment that Cotto isn’t well aware of the dissing he is receiving at the hands of his promoter Arum and don’t think for un momento it won’t act as further motivation for the proud Boricua to beat Pacquiao when the opening bell rings.
Not to be forgotten in all this is the fact that Cotto’s contract with Top Rank is up at the end of the year and if history is any lesson we know that every athlete who has ever performed on the big stage usually performs his best in his contract ending year…it’s just the way it is. Look for Cotto to put on the fight of his life and possibly his career on Saturday night knowing he will be negotiating with a new promoter in 2010. A stunning victory over Pacquiao ups his earning power by leaps and bounds.
Since his Split decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao beat a very overmatched David Diaz to a pulp, defeated a fading Oscar De La Hoya and KO’d a defenseless (take term literally) Ricky Hatton.
Cotto is neither overmatched, defenseless or fading. In fact he may be hitting his peak. Now I know many of you will point to the ”Manos De Piedra” style beating he took from Antonio Margarito as the beginning of the end of his career but something tells me that Miguel took the beating as a lesson and is out to prove he can come back and win in the face of adversity.
Throw in the fact that the same Margarito is rumored to be in attendance at ringside on Saturday night. That should give Cotto even more of a reason to impress the sold out crowd and PPV viewers.
Toss in the Time Magazine curse and……….what? You don’t know about the Time magazine curse?
Well you do know Manny graced the cover of Time Magazine-Asia last week…right?
As it turns out there a more than two handfuls of sports stars who after gracing the cover of Time saw their careers come to a grinding halt. You can trace this back to 1929 when Chicago Cub owner William Wrigley was the Time cover story. The Cubs have not won a World Title since then. Other stars who have appeared on the cover are Doc Gooden, Pete Rose and Mark McGwire. Need I say more?
In my opinion the writing has been on the wall long before HBO’s 24/7 chronicled the rift between Pacquiao & Roach but it took a post fight singing engagement by Manny at The Mandalay Bay to finally convince me that this time the outside distractions have gotten the best of Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto should stop the Filipino star late in the fight.
If my prediction comes to fruition you can expect Pacquiao to open his post fight singing engagement with a rousing version of the James Taylor classic “Stream Roller Blues”.
Stay tuned to www.Pound4Pound.com for all the latest boxing news including immediate Cotto/Pacquiao post fight results and photos from MGM Grand Las Vegas on Saturday night.