Bring on Floyd Mayweather. Heck, bring on Wladimir and then Vitali Klitschko on the same night. Manny Pacquiao is the top pound for pounder in the world of pugilism today, and weight classes be damned, you have to give the whirling dervish of destructiveness a shot at any pro in the game today. The Filipino had too much speed, power and footwork for WBO welterweight champion Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand on Saturday night, and after notching knockdowns in the third and fourth, Pacman made it official with a 12th round TKO, as the ref stepped in to save Cotto from absorbing more of the Filipino's fury. The win gave Pacquiao his seventh title in seven different weight classes, and solidified his standing as boxing's torch bearer.
It will be up to Mayweather to take the torch from him. And yes, both Klitschkos on the same night, or giving Manny a chance against any pro out there is indulging in a bit of hyperbole, but would some of his countrymen bet on Manny to whip 'em both? Yes...and I might toss a few bucks down as well.
Many fight fans are tonight soaking in the win, and feeling that much prouder to enjoy the sweet science, because it is that much easier today to defend your attraction to the savage science with such a decent soul as its top ambassador. Humble, selfless, joyful, spiritual and yes, one helluva athlete: it is easy to root for Pacman, and actually, nearly impossible, unless you are a diehard boxing abolitionist.
Cotto started off solid, but once Manny got warmed up, he was in another zone. Pacman landed 336 of 780 punches while Cotto hit with 172 of 597 tosses. So many of those came from angles which made it impossible for Cotto to pick them up on radar.
Pacman said after to Larry Merchant that it was his intention to take his time. Manny said he tested Cotto's power early, just to see what the Puerto Rican brought to the table. He did admit he wanted to stop Cotto, and thought it would be halted in the 11th.
What's next? Manny said he would talk with promoter Bob Arum, and his family, before settling on the next challenge. Everyone in the building wanted Manny to call out Floyd, but it was not to be. He did say that he think he'll stop out at 147. We'll have to wait for eight, people.
Freddie Roach afterwards said that he was a bit worried when Cotto was having some success early. Next for Manny? "The whole world wants to see him fight Mayweather, I mean, I want Mayweather," Roach said.
Cotto manned up, and chatted with Merchant, showing off his class, if anyone needed more evidence of that. "I will continue fighting," he told Merchant after being asked if this was it. The loser said that he simply didn't see too many of the punches. "Manny is one of the best boxers we have of all time," he said. He said he told trainer Joe Santiago he wanted it stopped after 11, but then decided to soldier on.
The 30-year-old Filipino Pacquiao (144 pounds on Friday) entered with a 49-3-2 record, while the 29-year-old Cotto (145 pounds on Friday), from Puerto Rico, was 34-1. Manny grinned, and waved at friends and acquaintances as he strolled to the ring, as excerpts from ACDC's "Thunderstruck," and Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" blared. Viewers wondered, was he too loose, not dialed in enough on the task at hand, or was he simply so in flow in his zone that he felt an amazing level of relaxation before undertaking such a massive challenge?
In the first, the lefty Pacman didn't come out blazing as promised. Cotto knocked his head back with a right jab. He looked to be first, trying to tell Manny that it was a mistake to tangle with this strong, prime welterweight. No first round KO, as promised by Pacman trainer Freddie Roach. "Very nice round," said newbie trainer Joe Santiago to Cotto. Both landed 12 punches in the round, for the record. In the second, Cotto's jab stood out. But Manny got some combos cooking, too. He ate a left hook, then 30 seconds later, after getting the memo, slithered away from another left hook. Manny had warmed up, started slipping better, and was on the ascent. Manny got the round, easily.
In the third, Manny scored a knockdown, with a right hook. Speed killed as Cotto didn't see it. Two minutes remained. Cotto wasn't folding. He went to Manny's body, and scored with a sweet uppercut, and the last two thirds of the round were tight. In the fourth, Manny was moving in and out smartly. Cotto buzzed Manny with 1:10 to go, and then had him on the ropes. A left uppercut blasted Cotto to the floor with 15 seconds to go, though. And it seemed like maybe Manny had tasted Miguel's best and would be able to shrug it off. In the fifth, Manny fired and then darted away. Cotto was two steps behind him, too often. His jab was too rare by this time. A Cotto left dinged Manny, but he didn't stay buzzed for more than half a second. Viewers were informed that Manny's dad was on hand, seeing him for the first time ever. They'd been estranged for decades after he left the family.
In the sixth, we saw it all from Manny. Right hook leads, leaping lefts, lead lefts to the body. A left buckled Miguel's knees after he started his now typical late inning retreat. He did score with a clean right near the bell as Manny was on the ropes. But when would he fall for good? In the seventh, Cotto went into backpedal mode. Why not change the method because it wasn't working.
In the eighth, Cotto did nothing really but back up. His face was puffed, but his legs were still working, at least. In round nine, Cotto came out with more fire. He pumped a jab in the first minute, then started backing up again. Manny had Cotto backed up, looking like a man battling a swarm of bees with a flyswatter. Ref Kenny Bayless looked at Cotto hard, and Miguel winked at him, to signal he was OK. He was not. His wife Melissa and son Miguel Jr left their seat after this round.
In the 10th, Cotto backpedaled. Manny got frustrated but could you blame Cotto? No sir. In the 11th, Manny ate a counter left as he looked to end it. Miguel backtracked, hoping to make it through 12. In the 12th, Cotto looked to survive. He did not. Ref Bayless halted the scrap as Miguel ate shots on the ropes.
SPEEDBAG In the audience...Magic Johnson, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Derek Jeter, Roberto Duran, and Puffy Diddy.
---Jim Lampley and Manny Steward talked what's next for Manny. Steward said the public is calling for Manny-Mayweather. "I think the fight is gonna happen, I think it should be 50-50. He is one of the all-time greats, I put him up with the Ray Robinsons and Alis."
---Merchant in summation said that Pacquiao may be better than it gets, rather than as good as it gets.
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