Round by Round: Weekly Boxing Notes

Pacquiao vs. Cotto?!
The fight world is abuzz today with the latest comments from that non-stop font of controversy and confusion, promoter Bob Arum.

With so many options floating around boxing’s pound-for-pound king, Manny Pacquiao, and with the sport’s fans and media preoccupied with the idea of a super duper fight between Pacquiao and the soon-to-unretire Floyd Mayweather, it seems that Arum has different plans for his prized client.

Those plans involve fighting his second most prized client.

Or third, possibly. It’s hard to say how you would rank Miguel Cotto and Kelly Pavlik in Arum’s arsenal. Nevertheless, Arum was quoted in today’s Manila Bulletin as saying that, provided Manny gets past Ricky Hatton on May 2nd, his next opponent will be Cotto in November in an internecine Top Rank smackdown. The proposed venue? Madison Square Garden, Cotto’s home turf, and a legendary site yet to host a Pac Man fight.

The mind boggles at the thought, but despite the excitement that fills me at the mere prospect of this matchup (and at the Garden, no less!), I’m struck by numerous obstacles. There is the question of whether Pacquiao defeats Hatton, first of all, but far greater an issue to my mind is whether Cotto gets past Josh Clottey in their welterweight title fight on June 13th (also at the Garden). Never a big fan of Hatton, I’m prepared to look ahead to Pacquiao’s next fight, because I think Ricky’s rabble-scrabble approach in the ring sets up perfectly for a Pac Man sandwich (for about a thousand of them, actually), and I don’t think the svengali treatment from Hatton’s new trainer, the one and only Floyd Joy Mayweather Sr., is going to bear fruit in a couple months of pad-work and poeticizing, not the kind of fruit that would yield a victory over a tornado like Pacquiao anyway (Paulie Malignaggi, yes… but then Hatton was going to beat Paulie with Floyd or without him).

Cotto, on the other hand, I am not prepared to give a pass to the next round of his career, because the round he’s facing is a mother. Josh Clottey is very fast, very strong, very tough, very very. And this is Clottey’s close-up. Cotto’s been on the big stage for a while now. He’s a bona fide star. But Clottey has been dwelling on the fringes of the high-stakes welterweight sweepstakes and come June 13th he gets his crack at the big time. The man is hungry. I’m talking Clubber Lang hungry.

Meanwhile, Cotto is busy ducking the cement blocks being thrown at his Jaguar by his uncle/trainer as they fuss and feud their way through training camp. That bit of filthy mcnasty led Cotto to name his old assistant trainer, Joe Santiago, as his new head trainer, a move that prompted Steve Kim over at MaxBoxing recently to ask if Cotto “has basically made the decision to train himself?”

It would appear so. But that’s been very nearly the situation for Cotto for some time. His relationship with his uncle and former chief second, Evangelista, has been on the rocks dating back at least to last summer’s fight with Tony Margarito, when the two were barely on speaking terms.

Which only goes to say that Cotto has faced turmoil in his corner before in the lead-up to high-profile fights with very rough customers, and performed admirably (heroically even) under the circumstances.

Nevertheless, the situation is not ideal, and based on my observation of his development in the ring, Cotto’s professional relationship with his uncle, whatever its personal pitfalls, was yielding excellent results. One wonders how the complete absence of Evangelista in his camp will affect his preparations for a monster like Clottey.

Beyond the question of whether Cotto will beat Clottey, however, lies the black whale, Moby Floyd. Obviously, Arum is interested in making a big fight between Pacquiao and Cotto because, as the promoter of both men, it is financially in his interest, to say the least. On the other hand, what is most financially in the interest of his client, Manny Pacquiao, is a fight with Money May. This is a mega-bout on the order of Oscar/Floyd from 2007, and is possibly the only fight in boxing right now that could generate De La Hoya-like PPV numbers. And for Pacquiao to face Cotto before facing Floyd would be to risk what very well could be the biggest payday of his career.

Of course, for Arum there is no risk there at all, because it’s all in his best interest. Floyd’s looking for the biggest fight out there, and that fight definitely would involve the winner of a Pacquiao/Cotto matchup. In that Pacquiao and Cotto are both Arum clients, he’s good either way.

So you wonder exactly what’s going on here. It’s a complicated shuffle. There’s a lot of posturing going on in the media, and a lot of rumors floating around with not a whole lot of substance behind them. In other words, it’s boxing 101. The word from the Mayweather camp for some time now has been that Floyd’s people have been pursuing a fight with Juan Manuel Marquez in the fall, but that these negotiations are hung up over the weight, because Floyd wants to fight at 147 and Marquez doesn’t want to go over 140.

My take on those rumors always has been that this is media maneuvering, because Floyd has to know that JMM is not going north of 140 pounds. In my estimation, with as much respect as I have for Marquez, I think he’s in trouble if he ventures north of 135, especially against a man of Floyd’s capacities.

But if Floyd is saying he wants the fight at 47 or it’s no fight, then I’m thinking he doesn’t really want the fight at all. I’m thinking he’s just sending out the vibe that he’s prepared to bypass the likes of Pacquiao and Mosley altogether as a negotiating ploy, with the caveat that if he does happen to get Marquez to sign for 47, then he’s taking no risk, because he knows he’ll beat JMM at that weight.

But now, with Arum talking Pacquiao/Cotto, I’m starting to wonder if we aren’t going to see some kind of welterweight semi-finals in the fall, Pacquiao/Cotto and Mayweather/Marquez with the winners to meet in the spring of 2010 in the biggest welterweight contest since De La Hoya/Trinidad in ’99.

Do we dare to even hope? I don’t know, I just don’t know ...

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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