We've had it here. I've read it elsewhere. The downplaying of Miguel Cotto as Manny Pacquiao's November 14 opponent is absolutely insane. No offense to any of you, I think you're all great boxing fans and I love having you here, and no offense to anyone else anywhere, but you're all nuts.
It is an interesting thing to regard Cotto, arguably the world's best welterweight, as not a competitive matchup for Pacquiao. Pacquiao is phenomenal. He wasted a spent, weight-drained Oscar de la Hoya (it's the truth, look at Oscar that night) and then destroyed a totally fit, at his best weight Ricky Hatton in May, which was just awe-inspiring. I still watch those fights and go, "My God, is this Manny Pacquiao something or what?"
Miguel Cotto lost a fight last year. A great fight. A Fight of the Year contender of a fight. And he lost it to a guy whose entire career now comes with an asterisk. Hey, I'm not saying, I'm just saying. Since then, he's come back to wail on Michael Jennings in a total rebound fight, and then he signed to fight Joshua Clottey, a dangerous welterweight that nobody else wanted to face.
When Cotto-Clottey got signed, we all went, "Oh man, that's great. Even matchup, Clottey gets a fight he deserves, Cotto's showing a lot of guts taking that fight. That should be really good. I can't even pick a winner."
To a man, I'll guarantee that if the fight we actually got out of Cotto-Clottey had been laid out exactly and proposed to everyone here, no matter what side of the scoring fence they're on, you would've gone, "That sounds good."
What we got was a rugged, competitive fight all the way through, with Cotto overcoming partial blindness due to a nasty cut to gut out a win over an outstanding fighter. All the talk of Cotto "running" in that fight is pure nonsense. Find me a fighter on earth that doesn't move to avoid being hit in an eye he can't see out of, and you'll have found either a bad fighter or a guy like Arturo Gatti, who no one should be expected to emulate.
And when all was said and done, Cotto-Clottey led to some major league hemming and hawing, and praise for the fight and the performance of both guys was sadly muted.
I'm saying this for two reasons:
- Cotto is a totally viable opponent, one of about four guys in boxing that would've been an acceptable choice for the new P4P king. The other three: Shane Mosley, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and a third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. That's really it. Did you want Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley instead? Pacquiao-Andre Berto?
- The fight is outstanding on paper and should be the most highly-anticipated single fight in boxing in 2009. IF Pacquiao were to steamroll Cotto the way he did Oscar and Ricky, he deserves every single ounce of credit for that. This is a dangerous fight. He's fighting the best. He deserves recognition for it.
I mean, apart from desiring Mosley instead of Cotto, what else was there? Floyd and JMM are busy. There's really nobody else around 140-147, certainly not close in terms of money. We're getting an excellent fight on paper that will either further solidify Pacquiao's legacy, further establish Cotto as one of the best fighters in the world, or in a perfect storm, both of those things happen.
It seems to me that some people might accept nothing less than Pacquiao time traveling and fighting Sugar Ray Robinson at this point. Live in the now, because this now is pretty damn exciting.