By Jason Pribila: The story of Manny Pacquiao – Miguel Cotto did not end when the bout was waved off 55 seconds into the final round. The aftermath has created a buzz that has spread well beyond the sport of boxing and has captured the imagination of even casual sports fans. The buzz is not about Pacquaio’s domination over the second half of the bout, or the opening four rounds that saw Pacquiao and Cotto stand toe to toe; the buzz is overwhelmingly about what’s next.
What’s next seems to be a collision course between Pacquiao and Floyd “Money” Mayweather that will not only settle the dispute of who is Boxing’s best pound for pound fighter; but also a fight that promises to be a the sport’s richest, and most anticipated in years.
On a weekend that saw “Curb Your Enthusiasm” take us back to the 90s and the set of “Seinfeld”, the anticipation of Pacquiao – Mayweather has us longing for a return to the 80s and the era of Sugar Ray Leonard – Tommy Hearns. However, before we look ahead to 2010, please allow me to take a final look back at the Pacquiao – Cotto: Winners and Losers.
5. HBO 24/7 - Again the HBO Boxing infomercial generated plenty of momentum to get the juices flowing for the boxing community. And while no one could question the impact the show has had on the economic success of the fights that are featured, one may state that its entertainment value is growing a bit stale. Some fights simply do not generate enough interesting story lines to fill up four half-hour episodes.
At this point it is going to be tough to find a fighter on an episode of “24/7” that has not already performed on the network. Moving forward the producers need to worry less about the scripted slo-mo shots outside of the ring, and focus more on the exclusive shots captured from previous performances inside of the ring.
Kind of like the second episode of “Fight Club 360”.
4. Ring Magazine’s Welterweight Rankings - Shane Mosley was bumped from the top spot that he earned by knocking out the previous #1, Antonio Margarito. That performance may have been too good for him to land a fight against Pacquiao, Mayweather, or Cotto; but it was not good enough to keep the top spot.
This week they inserted Pacquiao as their number one welterweight on the strength of his victory over Cotto. It was a tremendous victory that earned Pacquiao the right to be favored against anyone else in the division willing to meet him at a catch-weight. Freddie Roach already said he would ask Mosley to come down to at least 143, and I’m sure the Mayweather negotiations will begin at 145.
I have no problem with Manny Pacquiao being ranked #1 pound for pound, but he should not be #1 at welterweight until he drops the catch-weights or beats Mosley.
3. Antonio Margarito – There have been reports that the grounded tornado was seen in Las Vegas over the weekend. He is less than two months away from seeking a possible reinstatement to boxing, and he seems to be at a lighter weight than he was two months prior to his fight against Mosley. However, the HBO PPV telecast displayed a picture of Margarito in the ring following his victory over Cotto that revealed that his hand wraps were discolored. Again, this proves nothing, but it is yet another Exhibit to be held against Margarito when he seeks reinstatement by the California Commission, and acceptance from the Court of Public Opinion.
2. Joe Santiago – The lack of experience of Cotto’s trainer was seen as a big disadvantage heading into the fight. Pacquiao’s boxing “master”, Freddie Roach, was quick to point this out, and clearly got into Santiago’s head.
In fairness to Santiago, there may not have been anything that he, Dick Lebeau, or Dean Smith could have done to diffuse the Filipino’s offensive Firepower, but he also failed to do anything to silence his critics. When Cotto felt the fight slipping away, he returned to his corner, but there were no answers. Rather than being a calming influence, Santiago seemed to be falling apart quicker than his charge.
1 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. – Junior had no business being on this fight card, and his lethargic performance may actually hurt the niche he found for himself, headlining Top Rank’s Latin Fury cards in Mexico.
At first people were told to be patient because he was learning on the job. Without any amateur experience, it only made sense that he was brought along slowly. However, the plug on this act needs to be pulled. His presence on this historic card came at the expense of too many honest fighters that view their vocation as a privilege, not a birthright.
5. Miguel Cotto - Although he failed to be competitive after five rounds, and took tremendous punishment for the third time in four fights, it is impossible to label the Puerto Rican native as anything but a winner. No one in any weight class (with the possible exception of Pacquiao) has fought a tougher stretch of fighters than Miguel Cotto.
Cotto never ducked anyone. His heart, skill and determination carried him to victory in some huge fights, as he established himself as the biggest ticket seller in New York and Puerto Rico. If anyone could build Cotto back up to face the best of the division, it will be the match-making team at Top Rank. Here’s hoping he has another successful run.
4. Dan Hill - Manny Pacquiao never hid the fact that he loved to sing, but his choice of song on the Jimmy Kimmel Show may have caused some heads to turn. “Sometimes When We Touch” was written and recorded by Canadian crooner Dan Hill in 1977. It proved to be his most successful song, and rose to number 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It may have been 30 years since Hill performed on the Merv Griffin Show, but his ballad finally made it back to late night television in front of a new generation of fans.
The positive response to Pacquiao’s vocal styling’s prompted him to book a room at the Mandalay Bay, where he performed eight songs with his band at a modest $40 per ticket. The only question that remains is whether or not Pac Man will tap into another Hill hit, “It’s a Long Road” from 1982’s “First Blood” soundtrack. Pacquiao may not cause anyone to forget Sinatra, but he was able to remind us of Dan Hill.
3. Yuri Foreman - While no one was thrilled that Foremen was part of this PPV card, it was hard not to feel good for the aspiring rabbi when he had his arm raised in victory. His one-sided decision against Daniel Santos allowed Foreman to become the first Israeli to win a major title.
Foreman may never become “Must See TV”, but he is always going to show up in shape, and will be a tough out for anyone in the junior middleweight division.
2. HBO PPV – It was far from a stellar year for HBO Boxing, but 2009 should go down as the year they got at least one leg of its boxing tree on track.
The first step was to cut down on the number of PPV’s. For years the caliber fights that fans were expected to pay for resembled match-ups that they should have received with their monthly subscription. By limiting the number to three, each fight was given the royal treatment. Rather than getting together to watch a night at the fights, fans were able to treat each fight as an event. The strategy paid off, and for the first time since 1999 (Lewis-Holyfield, De La Hoya – Trinidad), HBO produced two fights that grossed over one million pay per view buys.
Now, HBO is in position to cash in if they are able to land one Pay Per View in 2010.
*The final numbers were not officially released, but early estimates have Pacquiao – Cotto comfortably over 1 million buys.
1. Manny Pacquiao - It is hard to believe that less than a year ago, Pacquiao was viewed as a lamb being led to the slaughter against Oscar De La Hoya. Since that “mismatch” Pacquiao has continued to challenge himself, and he continues to raise the bar higher. He seems to thrive on proving his doubters wrong, and following his victory over Cotto there are few doubters that remain. Suddenly he is left with only Mt. Mayweather to climb, and a fight that seemed like a long shot of happening may only be months away. A fighter that was seen as too one-dimensional to face the “Pretty Boy” has now opened as a slight betting favorite in Vegas, and an even larger favorite on several unscientific polls.
Pacquiao is as important to his nation as any athlete has ever been to his or her own country. He walks to the ring with a look on his face that is similar to that of a child that already knows what Santa left under his Christmas tree. He is not only one of the greatest fighters of his generation, but he is also one of its most exciting. He is everything that Roy Jones Jr. could have been, and everything Floyd Mayweather Jr. wants to be. He is a living, breathing Super-Hero. He is “Wapakman”
November 19, 2009