Pacquiao vs. Cotto: Weighty Issues

A fight with Manny Pacquiao has become Boxing’s version of the golden ticket. A guaranteed big payday, HBO 24/7, and ppv are in store for whoever Pacquiao chooses to fight next. Floyd Mayweather Jr, Shane Mosley, and Miguel Cotto have all been rumored as Pacquaio’s next opponent.

Mayweather would seem to be the best option of the three. A former pound for pound champion until he retired, “Money” Mayweather has unretired to face familiar Pacquiao foe Juan Manuel Marquez. A Mayweather rib injury has postponed that bout until September, effectively putting him out of the running for Pacquiao.

Shane Mosley is the next likely option, as he is a former pound for pound champion himself. He is also the current welterweight champion, after his one sided knockout of Antonio Margarito in January. A formidable foe for Pacquaio, he has taken to calling Pacquiao out. Mosley has stated he is willing to come down to 144 lbs. to make the fight happen. He has also personally spoken to Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, about the fight. Although Pacquaio would no doubt be willing to fight Mosley, it seems Bob Arum is not warm to the idea.

This leaves Miguel Cotto, the least likely option, as the frontrunner. Pacquiao was ringside as Cotto won a close split decision over Joshua Clottey. Cotto was cut early in the fight, and looked to survive in the later rounds. Clottey outfoxed Cotto during the middle rounds, but seemed to take his foot off the gas in the final frames. A first round knockdown and late rounds comeback propelled Cotto to victory.

Immediately following the fight, Bob Arum announced Cotto/Pacquiao would happen in October. The contracts have not been signed yet, but Arum is moving forward as if the fight will take place. Freddie Roach also seems pretty warm to the idea, but wants Cotto to come down to 144 or 143.

Here is where the main problem lies with this bout. Freddie Roach has been adamant that he wants Pacquiao to continue fighting no higher than 143 or 144. While Mosley has agreed verbally to fight at 144, it is debatable whether Cotto can make this weight safely. Cotto is rather large for a welterweight fighter, and routinely comes in well over 160 on fight night.

The problem with Cotto coming down to 144 or 143 is it may adversely affect his in ring performance. If Cotto struggles with the weight, it may cost him stamina, and may affect his ability to take punches from Pacquiao. Cotto struggled for years to make the 140 lb. limit, and it began affecting his performance then. He was hurt and dropped several times, most noticeable against Ricardo Torres who almost knocked him out. These performances were blamed on Cotto’s inability to make the weight safely.

If you need another example of what can happen to a weight drained fighter, look no further than Oscar De La Hoya. Against Pacquaio, De La Hoya weighed in at 145 but only put on two pounds by fight time. He was unable to rehydrate himself properly, and had to receive several IV’s. In the fight De La Hoya was slow, sluggish, and lethargic. He was dominated and stopped after eight one sided rounds.

If all parties agree and this fight is signed, it may be the weight that determines the outcome. If Roach has his way and Cotto has to boil himself down to 143, the fight may be won before fight night. Roach knows the further down in weight Cotto comes, the weaker he will be. Pacquaio looks to have the much quicker hands of the two, and may have more miles left in the gas tank. Cotto has been in several brutal wars over the last few years, and may be starting to show signs of wear and tear.

At 147, this fight would look to be an almost even match. At 144, Pacquaio would seem to be the favorite. At less than 144, it could become another lopsided Pacquaio blowout.

How low will Cotto go? Only time will tell.

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