Monday, August 3, 2009

Is Pacquiao-Cotto Going to Be Called Off?

There's been an "official" announcement of the Manny Pacquiao/Miguel Cotto fight (tentatively scheduled for Nov. 14 in Las Vegas) from Bob Arum, but as yet there's been no press conference to announce the fight. What's more, it seems like the negotiation for the fight is still playing out in the media between the two camps, begging the question, "Is this fight a done deal or not?"
The latest issue to hit the headlines concerns the question of Miguel Cotto's WBO welterweight title and whether it would be up for grabs in a fight with Pacquiao. Reason would tell you that it wouldn't be, because the Pacquiao fight has been set at a catch-weight of 145 pounds, two pounds shy of the welterweight limit. After Arum brushed off concerns about the title question last week, Cotto stated his case earlier this week, saying, "If Pacquiao wants the fight to be for the title, it will have to be at 147 pounds... My decision is final and firm." But Pacquiao's camp is equally insistent that the fight remain at 145 with the title at stake. "We don't need the fight if the title is not on the line," Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer, told The Manila Bulletin. "I want Manny to do this for a reason. I want Manny to win seven world titles. Titles are overrated but I would like to see Manny do this."

Of course, if Pacquiao and company are so adamant that the title be at stake in this fight, why didn't they raise the issue before the fight was "officially" announced to the media by the promoter of both fighters?

Well, according to Pacquiao's lawyer, Franklin Gacal, you'll have to ask the promoter about that. "I don't know why Bob made the announcement when in fact we haven't seen the contract," Gacal said.

Dah... what? They haven't seen the contract? Then what the hell is going on here exactly? How could this fight be a done deal when one fighter's camp claims not to have even seen the deal?

There are three possible answers to that question, all of which seem plausible to me:

1. They have seen the deal but are acting like they haven't to get what they want.

2. They have seen the deal but for whatever reason have decided that they don't want the Cotto fight and therefore are using this issue as the excuse to back out.

3. They haven't seen the deal – Arum's announcement was premature, a tactic to try and bully the Pacquiao camp into a fight that he desperately wants them to take.

Or it could be some combination of points one and three, although I confess that I'm really wondering about point number two. The reason I'm wondering about that is this: Who the hell cares about a WBO belt? I understand that Freddie Roach is starting to think about Pacquiao's place in history and everything, and an unprecedented seven world titles would be nice on that count, but still, I just don't believe that they care about it that much. Not to mention the fact that, hey, the fight's at 145 pounds. Cotto's right – that's not a welterweight fight and it shouldn't be sanctioned as such. It's true that the belts mean less than the fake gold they're made out of at this point, but nevertheless, if we start completely throwing the weight divisions out the window in this sport, we're looking at utter chaos.

And I suspect Freddie Roach knows that. I can only imagine the venom that would pour forth from him if he were on the other side of the argument. Cotto is well within his rights to stand his ground on the title question, and based on his comments yesterday, Roach is willing to scotch the fight if he does. Could that possibly be just for the honor of competing for the WBO welterweight crown?

I can't see it, myself. Maybe Pacquiao's team is just beating its chest a little to get this concession out of Cotto, but something tells me that he's not going to back down. Cotto is an old school guy, and though Roach is quick to point out that Pacquiao doesn't need Cotto, I don't think Cotto feels a tremendous need for Pacquiao either. Cotto sells out the Garden when he fights a no-name like Josh Clottey. He's not making Pacquiao money, but he's doing just fine for himself, and there are other big fights out there for him.

Which leads me to believe that if Pac Man Incorporated is going to hold the line on this issue, then the fight is off. And if that happens, never in a million years would anyone be able to convince me that the reason for that was the precious WBO title.

Source: (July 31, 2009)

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