Tampa Bay Sports Day

Cotto and Pacquiao Ready to Rumble

Las Vegas – Miguel Cotto the WBO welterweight champion and Manny Pacquiao the six time champion are ready for their 12-round encounter on HBO pay-per-view this Saturday evening from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas  They know the significance of this anticipated fight, so does their promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank.

“In this fight, he is not the star of the show,” said Arum about Cotto at the final news conference for a fight that needs no hype. Cotto and Pacquiao proudly have nine world titles in seven weight divisions, Cotto (34-1, 27KO’s) of Caguas Puerto Rico with three titles to his credit. Pacquiao (49-3.2, 37 KO’s) from the Philippines is also considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the business.

“But he plays a role that has made this fight what it is,” says Arum about Cotto. “Miguel Cotto is the biggest obstacle in Manny’s path. He is a true welterweight with a heart as big as this room. When the bell rings there won’t be one icon and one great fighter. There will be two great fighters in the ring and they will be fighting for their country and their families.”

And also fighting for the sport of boxing because this has become one of the most anticipated and talked about fights in years.  Not since the great welterweight wars that involved Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Sugar Rey Leonard has boxing seen the magnitude of two great fighters like this.

There is no telling how far this fight will go, but the implications after the result will also create interest in what is perhaps the premiere division in the sport. Waiting in the wings for the winner is an inevitable clash with the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. Reportedly a Pacquiao win could have him facing Mayweather at the new billion dollar Yankee Stadium in New York, or the comparable new football home of the Dallas Cowboys.

But Cotto can change the entire scope of where Mayweather fits in the picture. “I know the skills of Manny,” commented Cotto who had, what has been claimed to be the hardest and best training camp of his career in preparation for this mega fight, “We created a game plan for this fight and we are pretty sure this is going to be a great fight for boxing all over the world but especially for the Latin fans and the Puerto Ricans.”

Though Cotto never thrives on the future and Mayweather, looking in, is not a priority to him at least for the moment. Pacquiao has lived up to his distinction as being the top fighter in the game and in many ways, so has Cotto. The difference is Cotto fighting again at his natural weight and Pacquiao has moved up to another weight division which has never proved to be a problem.

To that Pacquiao said, “This fight is the most important of my boxing career .because if I win this fight I will go down in history. It’s a big honor for my country, for my family and myself. That’s why I work hard.” And it has more to do than the winner getting the new WBC Diamond Belt.  The winner is guaranteed more lucrative pay days and pay-per-per-view revenue that could surpass previous earnings of Mayweather and

Oscar De La Hoya.

And Pacquiao is claiming, “This is a once in a lifetime fight.”  Arum, who promotes both fighters, is in the driver’s seat either way.  When the fight was officially announced with a five city coast-to-coast tour in September, the kickoff at the new Yankee Stadium, there was mention of a trilogy between his two fighters, the next one at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Then Mayweather started to make some noise, of which Arum has had a previous and bad history with “Mayweather is just a showman and not a fighter,” said Arum when asked if Cotto or Pacquiao is in the plan to fight Mayweather. But the most likely and lucrative fight, even before Cotto and Pacquiao talk trilogy is Mayweather taking on the winner after the final result is in Saturday evening.

The pick here: Pacquiao in eight rounds by TKO. He may be too quick for Cotto and if he gets his opponent in the ropes it spells trouble for Cotto.

THROWING THE PUNCHES: The Nevada State Athletic Commission which is sanctioning the Cotto-Pacquiao fight recently approved the use of instant replay to be used in televised fights in their jurisdiction/ Though it is not known if the rule will be implemented for Cotto-Pacquiao.

Good for boxing when it comes to controversial scoring decisions based on the discretion of a referee when it comes to a knockdown or slippage.  Sometimes the knockdown as opposed to the slip can be vital in the final scoring of the judges as to a 10-8 or 10-9 round….

The career of Hector Camacho Jr, has been revived after his recent unanimous decision win over the veteran champion Yori Boy Campos. Camacho, son of former champion Hector of Spanish Harlem came in the ring at his heaviest weight, 174 and claims he can be a contender now in the welterweight division. His next target, Fernando Vargas, who has made noise about coming out of retirement after leaving the ring a few years ago with a bad back…

So Paul Williams gets his date in Atlantic City, December 5th on HBO but it is not for the middleweight championship against Kelly Pavlik.  Instead Williams, a definite threat to Pavlik, draws Sergio Martinez the exciting puncher from Argentina. Pavlik pulled out of the fight last month when it was well known his bad left hand would not heel in time. So what happens?

Williams gets to keep his HBO date and Pavlik weeks later, when it was said he could not fight for another seven weeks, signs on to defend his middleweight title against the lesser known and easier opponent Miguel Espino in his hometown of Youngstown Ohio. Pavlik also makes out on the deal getting a more lucrative deal as the fight will be televised on HBO PPV.

A good under card bout on the Williams card in Atlantic City, now moved to a ballroom instead of the more known Boardwalk Hall. Welterweight Johsua Clottey of Ghana and now residing in the Bronx, who gave Cotto a scare in June at Madison Square Garden, takes on the tough Carlos Quintana…

John Ruiz the two-time heavyweight champion is a stubborn and persistent fighter who believes his time is still coming to make boxing history. The first heavyweight champion of Latino descent form the United States gets his chance when he takes on newly crowned WBA champion David Haye.  Haye made history becoming the second light heavyweight champ to take a part of the heavyweight title, the first being Evander Holyfield…

January 30th out in Vegas another compelling welterweight bout. Andre Berto the WBC champ taking on veteran WBA title holder Shane Mosley, also on HBO and a fight that makes it more interesting for Cotto, Pacquiao and Mayweather. Do we smell possible unification of the title again, or maybe not because the promoters and sanctioning bodies don’t want it that way,,,

The 42-year old Bernard Hopkins, partner with Oscar De La Hoya Golden Boy Promotions wants to make his hometown Philadelphia proud when he steps in the ring to defend his light heavyweight title on December 4th at the Liacourras Center when he opposes the unknown Enrique Omeles…   …

And the busy end of the year boxing calendar continues on December 13th, the interesting and return 12-round bout that fans anticipated after their first bout. Paulie Malignaggi of Brooklyn New York, the junior welterweight meets Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz this time at a neutral venue, the UIC Pavillon in Chicago Illinois to be televised on HBO

Many felt that their first encounter on August 22, in Diaz’ hometown of Houston Texas was a hometown decision as Malignaggi threw more punches and got the best of Diaz. “I am not going to dwell on the past,” said Diaz this week when the fight was announced. “This time it is a different city and a new and different game plan.”

Said Malignaggi, the former junior welterweight champion who revived his career in that first bout, “I made enough of a stink after the first match to help get the rematch,” And indeed he did as his promoter,  Lou DiBella, one who is very vocal about bad decisions immediately petitioned Diaz and his management, Golden Boy Promotions, to put the gloves on again and do it at any other place but Houston Texas where Diaz still resides and is extremely popular.

e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com