Ahh, the prediction, it is half the fun of a fight. It doesn't need to be a big fight, or even a hard one to predict, just as long as you can ponder, debate and make the call.
How many times have you sat down to watch Friday Night Fights and thought to yourself, "This is a recipe for an upset — I'm taking the little guy."
When the fights get bigger, it just means you have more research to do: Who beat who, who looked good against what type of fighter, who's bigger, who's faster, which guy cuts, what shirt was I wearing last time he won?
The prediction can lead to months of back-and-forth anguish, sleepless nights and all sorts of mathematical equations. You read another person's prediction and think, "Maybe he knows something I don't." You ignore house chores and procrastinate when it comes to anything that might take away from fight study. In the end, it's all about bragging rights — telling people you knew all along what was going to happen. You are the Nostradamus of fistic fury.
On the flip side, once it's out there, you can't take it back. All your ranting and raving, all the fights you watched, and all the hours you spent reading on the Internet were for nothing. Now you have catch up on bills you ignored, the laundry that hasn't been touched in a month and that shed that you never finished building.
Remember though, if you pick right, you will be lifted through the city on the shoulders of others. Parades will be formed in your honor, and there is no doubt that streets will be named after you.
I think I am looking forward to the Pacquiao-Cotto fight so much because it seems like it's been so long since a pay-per-view fight came along that people were actually split on their predictions.
In the Floyd Mayweather Jr.–Juan Manuel Marquez fight, was there any real question who would win? Even if you were a big time Marquez fan, you had to know that it was a long shot.
When Pacquiao took on Ricky Hatton, I thought that it would be a tougher fight, but I always thought it would finish with Hatton on the canvas.
The last PPV fight that had such a split opinion might be Cotto-Shane Mosley. (I'm obviously not referring to the minor PPV cards like Latin Fury and such.)
I separated this series into three parts for several reasons. I have major respect for Pacquiao and Cotto, I have respect for the massive fan bases of both fighters, and I am just plain excited about this matchup. Each guy has a legitimate chance to win this fight. They both have giant hearts, solid resumes and great boxing skill.
Pacquiao has looked like a world beater lately, steamrolling through David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya and Hatton.
Cotto looks as if he has seen better days, being stopped for the first time at the hands of Antonio Margarito, and pulling out the decision against Joshua Clottey by a thin margin.
There are some lingering questions with both of these fighters. Was Hatton made for Pacquiao? Was Clottey that good, or did Cotto lose a step? Does Pacman look better than he actually is? Did Cotto get a little fight taken out of him by Margarito? Can Pacquiao handle Cotto's body work? Can Cotto handle Pacquiao's speed?
Manny Pacquiao (49-3-2,37 KOs)
No matter what Jim Lampley and his cohorts wanted us to believe, De La Hoya didn't look good against Steve Forbes. Going into De La Hoya?s fight with Pacquiao, all I paid attention to was the difference in size, not where the two were at in their respective careers, which, as we all know, turned out to be a mistake.
Hatton is not as bad as people have made him out to be since his destruction at the hands of Pacman. Hatton always had a habit of going in face first. He had done it his whole career. There were only a few guys who took full advantage of that: Mayweather, Pacquiao and Louis Collazo (Collazo was a slick boxer who caught Hatton late in their fight, but didn't have the explosiveness that Pacquiao has to finish him off).
Manny Pacquiao deserves to be rated as the pound-for-pound best these days because he is doing something that not many people in the sport are — stepping up. I don't mean to say that other fighters are chicken, but Manny can make money without Cotto or Hatton. He wants to be the best, and fights like the Cotto bout put him there.
Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs)
Miguel Cotto is coming off of a decision over Clottey, and didn't look his best.
But has anyone looked good against Clottey?
Clottey is a Winky Wright-type fighter. Even if you beat him, you'll never look good against him. Clottey was beating Margarito until Clottey claims he hurt his hands. Either way, he stopped fighting the same way he did against Cotto. So maybe that fight looks the same no matter when it happened (before or after Margarito).
I always felt going into fights that Cotto had finally bit off more than he could chew. Against Zab Judah, I thought uppercuts and speed could be a major factor, but Cotto weathered the storm, went to work and broke Judah down.
I thought Cotto would have issues with Paulie Malignaggi?s boxing skill and movement, but Cotto stuck to his game plan, cut off the ring and punished Malignaggi.
Mosley was a big, strong, fast and skilled welterweight. I was sure Cotto was over his head, but he boxed, moved and showed some skills I didn't know he had (keep in mind I never doubted Cotto — just questioned him).
I have always thought that Cotto's weakness was facing fast-handed, slick boxers like Malignaggi, Judah or Mosley. Cotto disposed of all three of those fighters. He cut off the ring, boxed beautifully and broke each guy down as if he were chopping down a tree (Mosley wasn't chopped down, but he did lose the fight).
In the end, the two fighters that gave Cotto the most trouble were straight-ahead, rough-and-tumble boxers — Margarito and Clottey. Those are two sturdy guys who come to fight, don't back up and have granite chins.
Breaking it down
For some reason, the fight I think about most when trying to make a prediction is the Judah-Cotto fight. Judah was a small, fast, hard-hitting, skilled junior welterweight. Cotto had some rough moments early on, but eventually his size and strength was imposed on the smaller fighter.
The major difference is that Pacquiao is a much smarter fighter than Judah, and he can punch from all angles. I also have zero questions about Pacman's heart, corner or his ability to change game plans in the middle of a fight.
Pacquiao is explosive enough to hurt and perhaps even knock out Cotto if Cotto is not careful. I think back to Allen Green on Friday Night Fights talking about different kinds of knockout power. Some have brute strength, and some have speed from out of nowhere. Pacquiao seems to have the latter. The early parts of this fight are very dangerous for Cotto.
This fight could go the way the Judah fight went. Pacquiao will be very dangerous early with his hand speed and explosive power, but I think Cotto will weather the Pacman tornado and take over in the later rounds. Cotto might take some punishment from Pacquiao's early movement and fast combinations, but the Puerto Rican will be doing what Teddy Atlas refers to as "putting money in the bank," as he works Pacquiao any way he can to slow him down in the second half of the fight.
Hatton said after his fight with Collazo that he could feel the force of the punches more at 147 pounds than at 140. I don't think Pacquiao has fully experienced that yet. He is not only facing a harder puncher than Collazo, but he will also be facing a guy who will be able to hit him, unlike his last couple fights.
My official prediction is that the first half of the fight is all Pacquiao with Cotto's methodical style and bodywork taking its toll late. I think Pacquiao's streak stops here.
Prediction: Cotto TKO 10
Hopefully, I am correct because I really don't want to finish that shed.
I leave you with one final question: No matter which boxer you pick in the Cotto-Pacquiao fight, who do you think has a better chance against Floyd Mayweather Jr.?