/ 16 November 2009

Pacquiao eyes Mayweather showdown

Manny Pacquiao hopes his stunning victory Saturday over Miguel Cotto will put him in line for a mega welterweight showdown against Floyd Mayweather in 2010.

Filipino southpaw Pacquiao showed he is ready to lead boxing’s revival by taking Cotto’s World Boxing Organisation belt and claiming his seventh world title in seven different weight classes.

He scored a final-round technical knockout, putting the Puerto Rican champion down as the referee stopped the onslaught 55 seconds into the 12th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Under siege from mixed martial arts, boxing has seen its fan base shrink in the past few years.

With his stunning demolition of his last three opponents, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and now Cotto, Pacquiao has become the face of the sport even making the front page of the Asian edition of Time magazine this month.

What better way to showcase the sport’s newest poster boy than to have a pound-for-pound showdown between Pacquiao and American Mayweather.

”That is the fight the whole world wants to see,” said Paquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach.

Asked after the Cotto fight if he wanted Mayweather next, Pacquiao said, ”My job is to fight and it depends on promoter Bob Arum to negotiate that.”

Pacquiao said earlier in the week he doesn’t think Mayweather will step up to the plate and called him a boring boxer.

”Boxing for him is like a business. He doesn’t care about people around him watching. He doesn’t care if the fight is boring as long as the fight is finished and he gets his money,” Pacquiao said.

Roach said even if Mayweather agrees to a deal, the fight won’t take place at any cost.

”If Floyd wants a 65-35 [purse] split then he is not going to get it,” Roach said.

Heading into the Cotto fight, Pacquiao looked relaxed all week even smiling and waving as he climbed into the ring.

Underdog Cotto was the more serious of the two knowing the odds were stacked against him and his best hope for a win was to be the aggressor and try to land his savage left hook.

Pacquiao’s game plan against Cotto was to engage him from the opening bell try to land an early shot and take away the champion’s confidence.

While he didn’t stick to the script entirely, Pacquiao did what he had to do in the first round to figure out his opponent and then break him down with his superior hand speed and boxing skills.

Pacquiao’s confidence increased after the third round when he realised he could take Cotto’s punches without losing any steam. In the fifth, he switched from being the aggressor to counter-puncher, landing several hard blows as Cotto tried to spin away from exchanges.

”I couldn’t see where the punches were coming from,” a bloodied Cotto said in the ring before heading off to the hospital for x-rays and treatment of cuts and bruises.

When he didn’t get the knockout he wanted in the sixth and seventh rounds, Pacquiao appeared to carry Cotto into the later rounds, hoping to catch him with a flurry in the final minute of a round that would finish the fight. Either that or he was hoping the referee would evoke the mercy rule.

Roach said all week he didn’t think Cotto’s corner would be able to make adjustments very well in the middle of the fight and there seemed to be confusion among Cotto’s handlers about when, and if, to the stop the fight.

”I would have stopped the fight if I was his corner man,” Roach said of Cotto’s trainer Joe Santiago.

”Once he [Cotto] started running he gave up and he was looking for way out. I would have given him one. I wouldn’t have let him take a beating.” — Sapa-AFP