Countdown To Mayweather-Pacquiao: What Was Manny Pacquiao’s Signature Fight?

There are two types of show-stopping performances we’ve seen from many great fighters in which their performance on that given night are forever instilled into our memory. In order for their showing to really count, they must have achieved it against another formidable foe who wasn’t undersized, old and had to have been considered special or elite going into the bout. The signature showing for all great fighters must be forged against another great or near-great who is seen as their equal.

The first type of show stopping performance is the brutal knockout, especially if it occurs early in the bout ie: Thomas Hearns pulverizing Roberto Duran with a single right hand in the second round. The other type of eye- catching performance is the one where a fighter delivers a systematic beat-down over the opponent and the longer the fight goes the worse it gets ie: Bernard Hopkins dismantling Felix Trinidad before finally finishing him in the 12th round.

Manny Pacquiao 57-5-2 (38) has had a career littered with signature and near signature performances over the last decade. He looked terrific beating Marco Antonio Barrera the two times they fought. After being out-boxed by Erik Morales the first time they met, he came back and stopped him twice during their rematch and rubber match. He beat up and punched around David Diaz at will, annihilated a washed up Oscar De La Hoya, pulverized Ricky Hatton, spooked Josha Clottey into being afraid to throw a punch because he didn’t want to leave himself open and vulnerable to Pacquiao’s counter attack, and he took the bigger and stronger Antonio Margarito to boxing school.

That alone is hall of fame worthy and quite impressive, but that isn’t all of it. What’s missing is the one fight in which Pacquiao boxed perfectly, hit with power, put his combinations together beautifully, took the best his opponent had to offer and didn’t even change the expression on his face, and if that weren’t enough, how about how he attacked in the manner of a human buzzsaw and never took his foot off the gas until the end when he looked as if he felt sorry for the beating he doled out during the previous 11 rounds.

The date was 11/14/09, the place was the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Nevada and the opponent was WBO welterweight title-holder Miguel Cotto 34-1 (27).

Cotto, 29 at the time, had only been beaten by Antonio Margarito who some suspect fought Cotto with loaded gloves. A year later Margarito was suspended from boxing for attempting to battle Shane Mosley with compromised gloves. After defending his newly won WBO title against Joshua Clottey, Cotto willingly agreed to defend it against Pacquiao 49-3-2 (37) at the time, in a 145 pound catch-weight bout. Not only was Cotto bigger and stronger than any fighter Pacquiao had ever faced at the time, it was also the belief of many boxing observers that Floyd Mayweather was doing his best version of the two step in order to stay on the other side of the street from where Cotto was.

Prior to the bout I was disenchanted when Pacquiao insisted on the 145 pound catch-weight and felt that Cotto would be hurt by having to shed those last two pounds. But in hindsight Pacquiao was so dominant that it’s unlikely the two pounds would’ve changed the outcome. Before the fight many assumed that Cotto would be too big and strong for Pacquiao, although Manny’s significant edge in hand-speed wasn’t discounted. However, the thought was Cotto could walk him into the corners, and then beat on his body with his vaunted hooks. And once that began to be a regular occurrence Manny would be slowed to a walk and would eventually become a sitting duck for Miguel to beat on and probably stop late in the fight.

Unfortunately for Cotto, he crossed paths with Pacquiao on a night that he put it all together and he may have never been better or fought more purposefully. As it turned out, Cotto’s walk-in style combined with his lack of speed was just right for Manny. Pacquiao’s blinding hand and foot speed along with his imaginative offensive assault, throwing punches in combination of five and six, totally befuddled Miguel. So much so that Cotto never had a clue from where the next punch was coming from. And if that weren’t enough, Pacquiao brought incredibly consistent power on that night. He had Miguel hurt and bloodied and after putting him down in the third and fourth rounds, Cotto came out and emptied his wagon and won the next round and kept Pacquiao from ending the fight early. And that’s what made the win so special for Pacquiao because Cotto definitely wasn’t shot or fighting from memory. He may not have been vintage Cotto, but it’s hard to imagine any other welterweight dominating Miguel like that. In fact no one has before or since.

However, Cotto’s gallant stand in the fifth round was about it for him as far as big moments in the fight. From the sixth round on Pacquiao out-thought and fought Cotto for the remainder of the bout and it was hard to watch at times because it was so decisive, it was almost scary. By the last third of the bout Cotto was almost flinching whenever Pacquiao feinted. It got to the point to where you could see Cotto really didn’t want to let his hands go because he knew it left him open to exchanges, and he was getting the worst of it nine out of ten times. In the 12th round the fight was stopped and no one who saw it will forget how great Pacquiao was that night against such a formidable and dangerous opponent.

It wasn’t so much that Pacquiao out-boxed and out-sped Cotto. What was so off-the-chart impressive was how he broke his will and by the midpoint of the fight Cotto was fighting as if he were the smaller man. And that’s something no fighter has ever done to Cotto before or after he fought Pacquiao. For Pacquiao to be able to dominate and break the will of the bigger Cotto, who was seen as a true ring warrior going into the fight, was truly remarkable. If you want to make a case for Pacquiao as an all-timer, you don’t have to look further than this fight. He looked like Roberto Duran on this night.

On the night Manny Pacquiao stopped Miguel Cotto, the realization of his greatness exceeded the expectation of it.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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COMMENTS

-michigan400 :

Being a huge Cotto fan since his ESPN fights early on, I was a little gutted when this fight happened. Still proud of Cotto for his effort but sad he took such a *** whipping. Same with the Morales rematches. Matter of fact it took me quite a while to warm up to Manny but now I see him as the great fighter he is. For me, it was the Morales fights that convinced me I was watching something special. Eric was one tough dude, so was MAB and JMM (still is!). Plus to come back from a points loss with 2 TKO's shows Manny can adapt and change up his plans as well. I still can't see Floyd just walking through Manny like he's washed up or inferior. He may very well win the fight, but I'm very confident he will KNOW he's been in a serious and rough fight. May 2nd should be fun!!


-Radam G :

Being a huge Cotto fan since his ESPN fights early on, I was a little gutted when this fight happened. Still proud of Cotto for his effort but sad he took such a *** whipping. Same with the Morales rematches. Matter of fact it took me quite a while to warm up to Manny but now I see him as the great fighter he is. For me, it was the Morales fights that convinced me I was watching something special. Eric was one tough dude, so was MAB and JMM (still is!). Plus to come back from a points loss with 2 TKO's shows Manny can adapt and change up his plans as well. I still can't see Floyd just walking through Manny like he's washed up or inferior. He may very well win the fight, but I'm very confident he will KNOW he's been in a serious and rough fight. May 2nd should be fun!!
Lil Floyd is the greatest con of being "The best Ever." And the greatest conning All-Time-Great scrapper. He makes Sugar Ray Robinson look like a choirboy. Da Manny is going to reveal how ordinary Money May has been. And then the cry will go up that Money May aged over night. And that the yesteryears Money May would've murdered Da Manny. Oh, WELL! That is how it rolls in the "theatre of the unexpected." Few ever expected for Money May to dance with the One-Pinoy Murder Row. Now after Money May gets his arse thrashed, you can call Da Manny the Mayvinci Code Cracker and executioner. May 2 can forever be known as "The St. Manny's May Night Execution." Holla!


-Radam G :

Holla at Old Smitty! He too believes that Da Manny is going to break Mayvinci Code.
->http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OsPXulV4Woo. Holla!


-#1 PacFan :

To me his signature fight has to be with Hatton. That fight really showed me his all around skills and power. He got hit by Hatton maybe once? Manny boxed early using the the ring like a Matador. He was setting up Hatton throughout the fight. Once he had his man he was in for the kill. He showed the jab as a decoy and BOOM! Lights out. I would love to see that big left hook/haymaker what ever you want to call it on May 2. I have not since Manny unload on an opponent for quite some time. Hope he really is angry for this fight because he sure was angry in the Hatton fight.


-pikon :

I agree the fight with Cotto is Pacman's signature fight...and it's the last one Floyd watched...


-stormcentre :

I think there are a few signature and standout fights for Manny. Lebwada (spelling?) was one. Barrera was another - I (having hardly heard of him before) gave Pacquaio no chance in that fight, and remember it vividly as we all watched it from a crowded bar in Thailand, and saw Marco get completely blasted and owned. Cotto was certainly a signature fight. Pacquaio fought brilliantly in that fight. Hatton was certainly a signature fight for Pacquaio, but I am not sure whether Hatton really was all there. But still, Pacquaio did what he had to and fought a brilliant and sensational fight. But, regardless of how weight depleted and washed up Oscar was, it was the De la Hoya fight that really put Pacquaio on the map as a boxing superstar; a fight that was almost completely engineered by Roach and motivated by his spite in relation to how Oscar treated and sacked him after they last worked together. The Pacquaio beat down of Margarito was pretty convincing too, but with it also showed how the recipe of (comparably) slow handed fighters with minimal defence strategies were always on the menu; not unlike some of Floyd's career.


-Domenic :

I think there are a few signature and standout fights for Manny. Lebwada (spelling?) was one. Barrera was another - I (having hardly heard of him before) gave Pacquaio no chance in that fight, and remember it vividly as we all watched it from a crowded bar in Thailand, and saw Marco get completely blasted and owned. Cotto was certainly a signature fight. Pacquaio fought brilliantly in that fight. Hatton was certainly a signature fight for Pacquaio, but I am not sure whether Hatton really was all there. But still, Pacquaio did what he had to and fought a brilliant and sensational fight. But, regardless of how weight depleted and washed up Oscar was, it was the De la Hoya fight that really put Pacquaio on the map as a boxing superstar; a fight that was almost completely engineered by Roach and motivated by his spite in relation to how Oscar treated and sacked him after they last worked together. The Pacquaio beat down of Margarito was pretty convincing too, but with it also showed how the recipe of (comparably) slow handed fighters with minimal defence strategies were always on the menu; not unlike some of Floyd's career.
I was just about to post the first Barrera fight. From what I recall, that Ledwaba fight was on HBO, and he thoroughly blitzed him. For me, his victory over Barrera, who was at the height of his powers and a heavy favorite, was a masterpiece. Good call.


-Domenic :

I think there are a few signature and standout fights for Manny. Lebwada (spelling?) was one. Barrera was another - I (having hardly heard of him before) gave Pacquaio no chance in that fight, and remember it vividly as we all watched it from a crowded bar in Thailand, and saw Marco get completely blasted and owned. Cotto was certainly a signature fight. Pacquaio fought brilliantly in that fight. Hatton was certainly a signature fight for Pacquaio, but I am not sure whether Hatton really was all there. But still, Pacquaio did what he had to and fought a brilliant and sensational fight. But, regardless of how weight depleted and washed up Oscar was, it was the De la Hoya fight that really put Pacquaio on the map as a boxing superstar; a fight that was almost completely engineered by Roach and motivated by his spite in relation to how Oscar treated and sacked him after they last worked together. The Pacquaio beat down of Margarito was pretty convincing too, but with it also showed how the recipe of (comparably) slow handed fighters with minimal defence strategies were always on the menu; not unlike some of Floyd's career.
I was just about to post the first Barrera fight. From what I recall, that Ledwaba fight was on HBO, and he thoroughly blitzed him. For me, his victory over Barrera, who was at the height of his powers and a heavy favorite, was a masterpiece. Good call.


-stormcentre :

I was just about to post the first Barrera fight. From what I recall, that Ledwaba fight was on HBO, and he thoroughly blitzed him. For me, his victory over Barrera, who was at the height of his powers and a heavy favorite, was a masterpiece. Good call.
Yep - never forgot it (the Barrera fight) I was in Thailand and had a date with a beautiful German girl I met that day on a cruise to the Pi Pi Islands (spelling?). We both had been diving and swimming in those beautiful waters together, so we knew and saw what we liked and wanted; hence the date that night. I went to the bar thinking Barrera will have this guy outta there in a few rounds, I'll arrive to the date late and make a nice entry; both then and later - sorry a bit naughty I know - but I have never forgot this German girl. Well, the fight went longer than I thought, and with each round I struggled with my priorities wondering how long the lady would wait. I missed the German lady and never got back in contact, and that hurt. But with it all, it made the Barrera V Pacquaio fight stay in my mind. Barrera - who was no slouch - was really Pacquaio's first major "coming out" party/fight. I think Barrera took Pacquaio too lightly going in, and then paid for it double as Pacman's speed settled in. Tough gig.


-stormcentre :

I was just about to post the first Barrera fight. From what I recall, that Ledwaba fight was on HBO, and he thoroughly blitzed him. For me, his victory over Barrera, who was at the height of his powers and a heavy favorite, was a masterpiece. Good call.
Yep - never forgot it (the Barrera fight) I was in Thailand and had a date with a beautiful German girl I met that day on a cruise to the Pi Pi Islands (spelling?). We both had been diving and swimming in those beautiful waters together, so we knew and saw what we liked and wanted; hence the date that night. I went to the bar thinking Barrera will have this guy outta there in a few rounds, I'll arrive to the date late and make a nice entry; both then and later - sorry a bit naughty I know - but I have never forgot this German girl. Well, the fight went longer than I thought, and with each round I struggled with my priorities wondering how long the lady would wait. I missed the German lady and never got back in contact, and that hurt. But with it all, it made the Barrera V Pacquaio fight stay in my mind. Barrera - who was no slouch - was really Pacquaio's first major "coming out" party/fight. I think Barrera took Pacquaio too lightly going in, and then paid for it double as Pacman's speed settled in. Tough gig.


-Kid Blast :

I agree Frank. That was the one.