Despite what Floyd Mayweather may say in the coming weeks, after his complete destruction of Miguel Cotto this past Saturday, Manny Pacquiao is clearly the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. There is absolutely no question about it. He’s also one of the best to ever lace up gloves and could be the best southpaw the sport has ever seen.
What Pacquiao did for 33 minutes and 55 seconds was to out-speed, out-scheme and out-hit a game, talented, strong fighter who appeared to be in the best shape of his life. Cotto showed up for the fight and in the first three rounds proved he was over the assault he suffered at the hands of a cheating Antonio Margarito. Cotto came out firing and matched Pacquiao punch for punch early on, but the Filipino’s blinding speed and shocking power were too much for the Puerto Rican hero. He fought valiantly and summoned all the courage in his tank to try to last all 12 rounds, but in the end, Pacquiao was too much. The 12th-round TKO was arguably the most impressive win in a career of amazing fights for the PacMan.
What Pacquiao did on Saturday proved he could take punches from a great welterweight. He’s clearly got a great chin and some kind of body armor inside the skin of his midsection. Cotto blasted Manny with great shots repeatedly early on, but Pacquiao was never phased. The fight also proved that at 145 pounds (the fight was held at a catch-weight two pounds under the welterweight limit) Pacquiao’s power is, if anything, even greater than at lower weights. And his trademark speed hasn’t diminished at all.
What we’ve been witnessing over the past few years of PacMan’s career is something we may never see again in the history of boxing. A guy who started out at 103 pounds has now won titles in a record seven different weight classes. From 103 pounds to 147, he’s dominated at every level. No one in the history of the sport has done what he has or likely will ever again.
His utter destruction of Cotto just proved once again that he, not Mayweather, is the best in the world. One thing that has always separated the two – and was clearly visible Saturday night – is that Pacquiao wants to finish fights. His fights are easily the most fan friendly of any pugilist of recent memory. He was clearly ahead after knocking Cotto down twice and dominating the first nine rounds, but over the last three rounds he was chasing Cotto down trying to end things. Whereas Floyd Mayweather often trades and retreats, piling up points and relying on the judges to sort things out, Pacquiao prefers to finish things on his own terms.
So will these two ever face each other and settle this question once and for all? Sadly, I don’t know if it’ll happen.
Floyd Mayweather has nothing to gain from a fight with Pacquiao. Unlike Manny, Mayweather has always been maddeningly careful in picking his bouts, often selecting opponents he has serious advantages over. As long as he stays unbeaten, Floyd can claim he’s the best, since he (unlike Manny) can claim to have never been beaten. If Floyd takes the fight and wins, he’s a bigger guy who beat a smaller guy coming up in weight to face him (a fight between the two would likely be at a catch-weight somewhere between 140-145). If he happened to lose, all of his bluster and the trash-talking he lives for would have to go right out the window.
I believe Pacquiao wants the fight. He’s proven he will fight the best, anytime, anywhere and at any weight. His trainer, Freddie Roach certainly wants the fight.
I think Pacquiao would win the fight simply because Floyd would be forced to engage him. Manny is too fast for Floyd to run away, play defense and wait to counter-punch. That’s his style and Pacquiao would find a way to get to him. Manny would likely also be the first guy to hit Floyd really, really hard and test whether or not Mayweather is up for an actual fight. Does Pretty Boy even have the stomach for a brawl? He’s a tremendously skilled fighter who has some of the greatest natural talent we’ve ever seen, but Floyd has never been in a war. Pacquiao has fought and won about a dozen. Manny lives for that kind of fight, Floyd (wisely, but boringly) runs to avoid them.
If it happens it will be the biggest fight in decades. I hope Mayweather comes to the table and gives the fans what we want, because I know the Pacquiao camp is salivating at the prospect of that matchup.