Manny "Pac Man" Pacquiao
Born: Bukidnon, Philippines
Resides: General Santos City, Philippines
Height: 5' 6 1/2"
Current World Titles Held: Ring Magazine Junior Welterweight (140 lbs.)
Former World Titles Held: WBC Lightweight (135 lbs.), Ring Magazine, WBC Super Featherweight (130 lbs.), Ring Magazine Featherweight (126 lbs.), IBF Super Bantamweight (122 lbs.), WBC Flyweight (112 lbs.)
Professional Record: 49-3-2, 37 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 9-1-2, 8 KOs
Record at Welterweight: 1-0, 1 KO
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 3-1-1
Notable Wins: TKO2 Ricky Hatton, TKO8 Oscar De La Hoya, SD12 Juan Manuel Marquez II
Notable Losses: UD12 Erik Morales I, KO3 Medgoen Singsurat
Born: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Resides: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Height: 5' 7"
Current World Titles Held: WBO Welterweight (147 lbs.)
Former World Titles Held: WBA Welterweight (147 lbs.), WBO Light Welterweight (140 lbs.)
Professional Record: 34-1, 27 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 14-1, 11 KOs
Record at Welterweight: 8-1, 6 KOs
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 4-0
Notable Wins: SD12 Joshua Clottey, UD12 Shane Mosley, TKO11 Zab Judah
Notable Loss: TKO11 Antonio Margarito
Promoter Bob Arum couldn't have planned for things to work out more perfectly than this: two of his Top Rank fighters facing off against each other in one of the biggest boxing matches of 2009.
Always appreciated by serious boxing fans and beloved by his Filipino people, Pacquiao blossomed into a mainstream star over the last two years with high profile knockouts of Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya. He's come a long way since his days as an exciting yet one-dimensional slugger, and his continued development has him justifiably earning consideration as the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
His opponent will be stepping into the brightest spotlight of his career as he attempts to etch his name onto the list of Puerto Rican legends. Cotto's career was sidetracked a bit when he was stopped in July of 2008 by Antonio Margarito, but he got himself back on track earlier this year by knocking out overmatched Michael Jennings and gutting out a tough split decision over Joshua Clottey.
Though both men have world class boxing skills, their offense-first mentalities and high KO percentages suggest an entertaining affair for as long as it lasts. Pacquiao has nearly unparalleled hand speed to go with nimble feet, but Cotto is a legitimate welterweight - in contrast to the smaller Hatton and weight-drained De La Hoya that Pac Man faced - who isn't exactly a slouch in the quickness department and will almost certainly hit Pacquiao as hard as he's ever been hit.
The road to this bout hasn't been 100 percent smooth, with Pacquiao dealing with an eventful camp and Cotto continuing to adjust to having relatively inexperienced Joe Santiago as lead trainer role after uncle Evangelista Cotto filled that role for most of his career. But each man has dealt with distractions successfully in the past, and smart money says both will draw enough extra energy from their vocal ethnic contingents to be in top form come fight night.
One interesting footnote is that even though the contracted fight weight is 145 pounds, Cotto's WBO welterweight belt will be on the line. That gives Pacquiao a chance to join De La Hoya as the only boxers ever to hold major world titles in six different divisions.
Pacquiao's Winning Strategy: Keep the Action in the Center of the Ring
Perhaps only Floyd Mayweather has quicker hands than Pacquiao, something a shell-shocked De La Hoya found out the hard way. Manny also has knockout power in both hands thanks to the development of a dangerous right hook to go with his cannon left, and so far it's translated to higher weights.
The problem with relying on just those traits this time is that Cotto is a naturally bigger man with a high boxing IQ, and he's not going to stand around and be Pac Man's punching bag. If Pacquiao gets lured into exchanges in tight spaces, Cotto has more than enough pop to make him pay.
Manny will need to use his lateral movement and increasingly impressive ring awareness to avoid getting trapped in the corners or along the ropes. Out in space, Pacquiao's fast hands and feet can be used to their greatest effect, and no one has found the answer for them in years.
Cotto's Winning Strategy: Cut Off the Ring and Attack the Body
Finding and catching Pacquiao seems to be a lot harder than it used to be, but Cotto is better equipped for the challenge than most. He's likely to have livelier legs than either of Pac Man's last two big name foes, and he's excellent at applying effective pressure.
Cotto is also an accomplished body puncher, something that can sap the quickness out of anyone. Concentrating on the body is never a bad idea, but against Pacquiao it could turn out to be especially vital for neutralizing his speed.
With Pacquiao likely to be able to get off first any time he wants, Cotto needs to get in tight so he can bring his size and power to bear. The best way to do that is to cut off Manny's escape routes so he can't stick and move. If Cotto can make Pacquiao fight with his back against the ropes, he'll be able to find out if Pac Man can take shots from a true welterweight – and he just may like the answer.
Posted by The Franchise