By Ray Flores
It was a cool night in Las Vegas, 57 degrees to be exact but anticipation was beyond the boiling point at the MGM Grand. Everyone who was a fan of boxing were either in attendance or watching the HBO event from the comfort of their homes to witness what we hoped to be one of the greatest fights in boxing history. Two dangerous fighters from the tropics have come here to settle the score. Who will be the best pound for pound fighter? Someone was about to go down.
The fighters entered the ring with all the fanfare and spectacle of the gladiators of Rome. The crowd roared with excitement. Only one would prevail. These two island warriors were here to do combat they asked no quarter, and gave none.
The crowd went ballistic at the sound of the first bell, and so it began.
Cotto at the beginning snaped Pacquiao’s head back with a left jab and then another. Cotto pushed Pacquiao back, the Pacman landed a straight left and Cotto countered. Pacquiao showed Cotto some respect at that point. Cotto fought in close matching Pacquiao’s speed and an even exchange of blows ended the first round. Cotto having connected with much more solid punches but the Pacman fired back with sudden furry and the round was even.
With the sounding of the bell for the second round Cotto continued to jab away, Pacquiao fired three punches and Cotto ripped the Pacman with hard jabs. A speedy solid left hook by Cotto, followed by a rapid response from Manny. Cotto backs Pacquiao on to the ropes. Pacman fires back with combinations and then more power shots by the little Filipino as Cotto shows he can take Manny’s punches.The round again seems to be even.
Round three the Pacman came out swinging, Cotto was knocked down by a right hook that surprised him. He just didn’t see it coming Cotto was back up and takes a standing eight count. The action continued with Cotto landing a left jab followed by a right hook. The Pacman fought back landing hard combinations. Cotto fired back snapping the Pacman’s head. At the end of the third round the fight was showing signs of weakness in the Cotto game plan. A mouse was formimg under the right eye of the proud man from Puerto Rico.
As the fight continued Pacquiao’s speed and punching power became more and more dominant. Cotto at times had Pacquiao on the ropes but it appeared to me that the Pacman was just taking a breather. At 1:27 secs in the fourth round Cotto was nailed with a left hook to the jaw and hit the deck for the second time in the fight. As he regained his senses and took another standing eight Cotto appeared to show a sign of doubt and loss of confidence.
So far to this point Pacquiao had done everything perfectly. In round five Cotto landed a left upper cut that snapped Pacquiao’s head back and stunned by a left hook as he came of the ropes. Manny battled back but seem to have taken more than he gave. Cotto appeared to have won the fifth round.
The sixth round Cotto was trying to battle back but he was beginning to take a lot of punishment. Pacquiao, was trying to finish him off. Cotto nearly went down for a third time from a left hook. Cotto tried to finish the round with a straight right that landed flush on Pacquiao’s face. Despite his efforts Cotto was in trouble.
Pacquiao’s ring generalship and explosive punches coupled with his ability to throw from all angles were taking their toll on the weary Cotto. A hard right at the beginning of the seventh round shook Cotto. He was withering in the Pacquiao onslaught. Pacquiao was relentless in his pursuit of Cotto. Cotto was making a valiant attempt to stay away from Pacquiao’s power punches. The referee during the break came over to the Cotto corner and asked him how he was doing, Cotto responded by saying he was alright.
Landing punches with both hands Pacquiao was clearly dominating the fight. Cotto continued to try and stay active but his punches lacked power. He was in full retreat. The Pacman continued to pursue him and continued to try and end the fight. At this point Joe Santiago, Cotto’s trainer, should have stopped the fight. Cotto was taking a lot of punishment.
The ninth round found Cotto just barely holding on. The relentless pursuit of Pacquiao was unending. The referee appeared about ready to stop the fight. During the break Joe Santiago told Cotto just one more. He should have tossed in the towel at that point. Cotto was taking a beating there was a real danger of Cotto of being seriously hurt at this point in the fight. Why the fight had gone this far was anyone’s guess. Perhaps the Roach prediction of the ninth round loomed in Santiago’s mind?
Cotto, was again on his bicycle and fighting back when he could, There was no power in Cotto’s punches and he was doing his best to just stay out of the Pacman’s way. Pacquiao was becoming frustrated. Cotto was in terrible shape at the end of the tenth round. What was Santiago’s problem.?
In the 11th round Cotto showed great courage and was just trying to survive the round. Manny was trying to cut off the ring and finish Cotto off at the same time.Cotto was a bloody mess.
Pacman continues to stalk Cotto who just doesn’t seem to have enough energy to finish the round. The referee was setting himself up to stop the fight. Cotto continued to take punishment till Kenny Bayliss finally stepped in and stopped the fight 55 secs in the 12th round.
Manny Pacquiao was just to fast, to powerful, firing to many combinations with deadly accuracy. He took the best of Cottos punches and wasn’t really effected. Manny’s ability to throw punches from different angles that Cotto appeared never to be able to see was the dominant factor in this fight. His ability to find gaps in Cottos defenses was remarkable if not miraculous. He was the much better fighter plain and simple.
Cotto fought with real heart in a valiant but futile effort. The fight should have been stopped much earlier, Cotto didn’t need to absorb all this punishment.
Pacquiao fought a tactical and strategic fight. He was magnificent, speed, power, punching with accuracy from all angles, ring generalmanship, it was total perfection coupled with superb conditioning, discipline and team work.
Now the next question that is on everyone’s mind. Will the future see a Pacquiao/Mayweather fight? After this fight how can Mayweather continue to side step the Pacman? Does it seem more like when, instead of if? Who else is there for the Manny to fight? But who knows? Mayweather, no doubt will be more elusive than ever. Only time will tell.