The biggest fight for the remainder of the year has been made. Manny Pacquiao will fight Miguel Cotto on Nov 14. But could this mega-fight prevent an even bigger one from happening?
Ask anyone involved in boxing the fight to make, and the answer is unanimous: Floyd Mayweather Jr vs. Manny Pacquiao, the best two fighters in the sport. Provided Mayweather beats Juan Manuel Marquez in September, it’s a fight that could have been happening this year. Instead, Pacquiao is putting boxing’s biggest fight in jeopardy by moving up in weight to take on Cotto.
So why risk the fight that really matters?
While Pacquiao has yet to find a weight class too big for him, there has to be a wall at some point that the Filipino can’t run through. Cotto is a full-fledged welterweight who is at his strongest at 147 pounds. This isn’t Oscar De La Hoya getting down to 147 pounds for the first time in seven years. This is the guy that might be that wall.
By matching his top two fighters, Bob Arum is putting pressure on Mayweather to fight the winner – on his terms. With Pacquiao, Arum is trying to create a demand so big that Mayweather will have no choice but to face the winner, and for the share that Arum, not Mayweather, deems fair.
If Cotto wins, he’ll have positioned himself to get whatever fight he wants. Of course, there wouldn’t be any bigger fight for him than Mayweather. They would be on a collision course in the same way that Pacquiao and Mayweather are now. Arum wins either way.
If Cotto loses to Pacquiao, he’ll have lost to an all-time great. He can pick up the pieces by taking a rematch with Shane Mosley to determine the divisional champion in his next fight.
A Pacquiao win guarantees one more mega-fight before his retirement – against the winner of Mayweather-Marquez. If it’s Marquez, fans will see the conclusion of one of boxing’s great trilogies. If it’s Mayweather, fans will be treated to the top two fighters in the sport facing off for boxing supremacy in what could be either man’s final fight.
In the event Pacquiao loses, the Marquez fight is still a strong possibility. Marquez earned a draw with Pacquiao in 2004 despite getting knocked down three times in the first round. In 2008, he lost the rematch by a single point and has clamored for a rubber match ever since, making it his reason for fighting on. Pacquiao can always fight Marquez to get back into boxing’s top program.
A loss to Cotto will not be disastrous for Pacquiao, but what about the sport he’s carried for the last year? If he loses, so too does everyone that wants the Mayweather fight. A loss suffered by either man would kill the hype and maybe the fight itself.
Every time a fighter steps in the ring, he risks losing out on the next big fight. That’s how the fight game works. It’s about always building to the next big fight, and the plans often fall through. It’s when good fights beget great fights that boxing is most rewarding for fans and fighters alike. This was the case when Cotto took a serious risk fighting Joshua Clottey in June. He came through in a tough fight and earned a fight with Pacquiao as his reward.
With Pacquiao risking the biggest fight in decades against Cotto, fight fans can only hope Pacquiao realizes there’s more on the line now than ever before. If he does, the reward will be ten-fold.