Pacquiao Powers Through Cotto to Historic Win


Manny Pacquiao made history by becoming the first fighter to ever win titles in seven different weight classes when he stopped WBO Welterweight Champion Miguel Cotto in the twelfth round of their 145-pound catchweight fight on Saturday.

Facing arguably his strongest test yet as a prizefighter, Pacquiao battled through some early competitive rounds before beginning to run rampant over Cotto, who could do little but eat big shots as the rounds progressed.

Round one went well for the champion. Working behind a stiff jab, Cotto chose to box the opening round and mixed in some quality body shots on the smaller Pacquiao, who shockingly began his career at 106 pounds. Still, it wasn’t a wipeout round for Cotto as Pacquiao got in plenty of shots as well.

Both men started round two blocking most of the hard shots coming from the other man. But then Pacquiao got through with two jarring straight left hands to the face of Cotto. He followed up with a hard jab and uppercut that snapped Cotto’s head up and added an uppercut from the other side to complete the best combination of the fight to that point.

Not to be outdone so early, Cotto rallied and slammed the head of Pacquiao aside with a big left hook just moments later. They traded hard shots to the body before Pacquiao went on another three-punch volley, including a right hook that turned Cotto’s head. Despite getting tagged often by the faster Pacquiao, Cotto continued to trade up to the bell, losing an exciting round to the challenger.

In round three, Cotto walked into a right hook early on, and Pacquiao quickly followed up with a straight left to the body and another hard hook to the head that made Cotto dip and catch himself with his gloves on the canvas – appropriately ruled a knockdown. Cotto was more surprised than hurt as he was upright and ready to continue before Referee Kenny Bayless could even get the count going.

The knockdown only lit a fire under the champion, who pressured Pacquiao more than before, banging in a right-left combination around the challenger’s gloves. But Pacquiao wasn’t backing down either and paid for it by walking into a big left hook. His chin proved to follow him up to welterweight as Pacquiao gave his usual shrug of the gloves. Cotto continued to have a strong round, working Pacquiao over to the body and clocking the challenger with an uppercut-straight right combination. Overall, the champion had the better round but lost it by getting dropped.

The fourth round would go down as the best of the fight. Cotto pushed the jab to start, snapping Pacquiao’s head back along the ropes. Then, halfway through the round, Pacquiao stood his ground and let his hands go, ripping Cotto with flurries upon flurries of power shots. Cotto took them well and ripped a hard left hook across Pacquiao’s mouth in return. Another left hook knocked Pacquiao back, but not before the challenger turned Cotto’s head with a counter right hook.

A combination to the body and head had Pacquiao covering up on the ropes with a minute to go. Cotto hesitated before banging away to the body and gloves of Pacquiao, who seemed to be urging the champion on by standing his ground. When Pacquiao attempted to throw back, he got nailed with a right hand to the face on the ropes. Pacquiao gave a nod and decided against lingering on the ropes any longer.

Just seconds later, Pacquiao had turned the fight around, having put Cotto on the ropes. Cotto fought hard to get off them himself but got drilled by a right hook and a huge uppercut from Pacquiao that rattled his head. Cotto’s arms flailed about from the impact, and he staggered sideways before collapsing on hands and knees on the canvas.

Cotto stood before Bayless could count to two, but, this time, he was badly hurt. Fortunately for him, there were only seconds left in the round, and he made it through, though his face showed the signs of a fight quickly going south – a cut under his right eye and blood coming from his mouth.

Throughout his career, Cotto has always shown great resiliency, and he did it again in round five. In spite of the enormous setbacks, he marched out and continued to pressure Pacquiao, stuffing in a right hand. A left hook along the ropes earned a nod from Pacquiao, who was definitely feeling Cotto’s heavy shots – perhaps more so than any other opponent he had ever faced. But he made sure to fire back with his own, clipping Cotto with another right hook that made the champion hold on.

A terrific exchange occurred midway through the round. Pacquiao stung Cotto with a straight left, but Cotto came over it with a right, followed by a left hook. Yet again, it was Pacquiao who finished, blasting Cotto with the right hook. Pacquiao tried to slide out of harm’s way later, only to be caught with a left hook from Cotto. Locking arms with the challenger, Cotto ripped Pacquiao’s head up with an uppercut against the ropes. A final left hook to the head ended a strong round for Cotto, who really needed it after a disastrous fourth round.

In round six, Pacquiao turned Cotto’s head with a right hook but got his own head turned by a counter left hook. The most remarkable aspect of the fight was that Pacquiao was increasingly more willing to trade fire with the bigger man. The point was made when Pacquiao walked through a hard left hook to drill Cotto with a better right hook – a shot that stood Cotto up and nearly wobbled him again.

Seeking answers, Cotto turned southpaw and got in a left hand, but that just made it easier for Pacquiao to land his right hook, one of which slammed Cotto’s head aside. Things had to be even more disheartening for the champion when he clobbered Pacquiao with one of his better left hooks and barely got a reaction out of him. Cotto landed with several thudding jabs to the head for the rest of the round, but Pacquiao walked through all of them.

The round ended in a firefight after Pacquiao scored with a straight left and a right hook that knocked Cotto into the ropes. The champion fought back and forced Pacquiao into the ropes, where he landed a left hook and a straight right, but Pacquiao’s chin held up to the bell, and he took the round. Cotto acknowledged Pacquiao with a playful pat on the cheek as they headed back to their corners.

Pacquiao took the first thirty seconds of round seven off before going after Cotto with a twelve-punch rally. With Cotto throwing less and less, Pacquiao was free to do as he pleased through the round, scoring more often with his straight left. Cotto knocked Pacquiao’s head back with one hard jab late in a round that otherwise was all Pacquiao. He clocked Cotto with a left at the bell just be sure.

In the corner between rounds, Cotto so looked like a beaten fighter that Bayless came to take a look at the blood now coming from his left eye and nose. In the eighth round, Cotto tried to buy some time by boxing and fought the entire round in reverse. He almost escaped without taking on any new damage until Pacquiao knocked his head up with a left hand with half a minute to go.

Early in round nine, Pacquiao beat his gloves together and urged Cotto to fight with him rather than box and move. Wisely, Cotto would have none of it and continued boxing – and doing well as long as Pacquiao allowed him to. When he let his hands go, Pacquiao beat Cotto into a corner and forced him to hold on. A one-two late in the round snapped Cotto’s head back and had him stunned yet again.

Cotto’s inexperienced corner strangely elected for their fighter to continue, but Cotto had nothing left when he came out for round ten. He was fighting only to survive at that point and, to put it simply, running from Pacquiao. It was a surreal scene to see a man who started as low as 106 pounds backing up a natural welterweight. Even Pacquiao tired of the chase with a minute left in the round, dropping his hands and standing still. But Cotto continued running.

Pacquiao put together an honest effort to get Cotto out of there in round eleven, but it was the champion who landed the best punch of the exchange when he knocked Pacquiao’s head back with a left hook. That was the extent of the effort as Cotto went back to running. Pacquiao again dropped his gloves and stared him down as though he were less than a man. And, in truth, Cotto may have earned more respect by giving up rather than dancing around the ring and not fighting. The boos of the crowd drove home the point that he was only wasting their time.

Finally, Bayless stepped in and called a halt to the bout early in round twelve after Cotto took a few more flush shots. He wasn’t necessarily in any danger, but there was no point in letting it continue because Cotto had stopped trying to win several rounds ago and was only looking to make it to the final bell. Pacquiao may have convinced Bayless to end things by staring the referee down early in the round as if to ask how much more he had to do. Apparently, not much more than he already had.

Cotto saved a little face by quickly coming to congratulate Pacquiao on the historic victory. He would go on to give Pacquiao full credit for the win and pay him the highest compliment by calling him one of the greatest fighters of all time.

What happens next to Cotto is hard to say, but he did express a desire to continue fighting. The biggest fight available for him now would be a rematch with Shane Mosley, but, in light of his devastating loss to Pacquiao, Mosley doesn’t really need to beat Cotto to achieve welterweight supremacy. That road now goes through Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Post-fight, Pacquiao wore the marks of a tough early battle but one that became increasingly one-sided with each passing round. In addition to a bruised face, Pacquiao sported cauliflower ear. Though he made it look easy by the end of the fight, he had taken some heavy blows, with his chin holding up.

If there is any blemish on Pacquiao’s performance, it’s that his trainer, Freddie Roach, was so adamant about making Cotto weigh in at 145 pounds while still having the WBO force Cotto to defend his title. With Cotto not allowed to maximize his potential by weighing in at 147 pounds, it wasn’t really a welterweight bout, and the title shouldn’t have been on the line to begin with.

More importantly, it calls the whole notion of Pacquiao being a “seven-division champion” into question.

It’s a shame only because Pacquiao was so dominant in his win that most will assume he would have won even if Cotto was allowed to weigh in at 147 pounds the day before the fight. In the end, it was an insurance policy that Pacquiao probably didn’t need, and that hurts the win if ever so slightly.

There’s only really one fight left for Pacquiao if he is serious about not going up any higher in weight. That, of course, is the superfight of superfights with Mayweather in 2010. Talks have already begun by HBO to get the fight made, which is a great sign for boxing fans. Mayweather-Pacquiao would pit the best two fighters in the world against one another and likely go down as the biggest fight in decades.