Emanuel Steward is another member of HBO’s team of boxing analyst. He is also a boxing trainer that has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Let’s welcome Manny Steward into the doghouse.
David Tyler Hi Manny, it’s good to speak with you again, how are things going?
Manny Steward Dave, I’m doing just fine, I bet you called to discuss the Cotto/ Pacquiao event this Saturday on HBO PPV.
DT You’re right. What are your thoughts about the fight?
MS Being very honest with you I think it’s going to be one of those few fights that’s going to live up to the expectations because of the style of the two fighters. They both are very good punchers which makes for a great fight. Sometimes you have a fight that’s supposed to be a very big fight but it turns out to be a typical fight. This fight features fighters with both punching power as well as boxing skills. This promises to give us some good exchanges, but both fighters know the other could land damaging punches, so I believe they will be reluctant to get into an early exchange. The odds reflect the fact that Cotto has had some recent difficulties; he fought Margarito who is an extremely big Welterweight, regardless of what may or may not have been in Margarito’s hands the fact that he took every punch that Cotto gave him he closed the deal by dishing out some punishment. He then comes back and fights a guy named Clottey, a very strong guy who also dished out a lot of punishment. So he had two extremely difficult guys who made him look say, not to impressive. Compare that to Pacquiao who has looked like 20 million dollars in his last two fights. De La Hoya was physically weak and of course the fight he had with Ricky Hatton. Pacquiao did what he was trained to do; he has such great, what we call eyes. In every one of those exchanges it always seemed like he got the first punch in, but also he can box. That’s one thing we keep forgetting about both guys, even though we think about their aggressiveness and punching power, they have also shown that they can box. Cotto has demonstrated that he can be a beautiful boxer if he wants, Pacquiao can box also and when he chooses to box his best asset is his foot speed and hand speed. The biggest thing Cotto’s got going for him is that naturally, and I don’t care what they weigh at the weigh-in, is that he is more than 10 pounds heavier than Pacquiao. By nature he is a big guy and will come into the fight at about 158 pounds. Even though he is a big welterweight he is not super big compared to guys like Tommy Hearns and those guys that are 6 feet and above. I think height wise they are both about the same height, Cotto may have about a half inch height advantage but his peek a boo style is to lean over which will negate any height advantage for Cotto. Cotto’s style leaves him open for punches up the middle and Pacquiao will take advantage by throwing the left straight down the middle. Pacquiao has terrific balance to go along with precision punching. But you can never tell, one big punch from either fighter could turn the fight in a different direction. David, that’s why I keep telling people that I can’t pick a winner and I am being very honest, there are too many variables in the picture for a clear winner to emerge in my mind. It should be a great fight and I can see the positive and negative issues for both fighters.
DT Cotto has been in trouble before and survived.
MS Adversity will favor Cotto because he has been there before. I have seen him wobbled by punches from Torres, Corley, Clottey, and we know what happened in the Margarito fight. Margarito hit Cotto with several heavy shots during the fight before finally putting him away and let’s not forget that Margarito is a very big Welterweight who may have had heavy hands for that fight. Cotto has proven that he does have survival ability when in trouble. I just don’t know what will happen with Pacquiao if he gets tagged, does he have the survivors ability to last through a round? Can he clinch and hang on until his head clears? These are questions that we just don’t know the answers. He has been hit with hard right hands from 130 pound fighters like Marquez but Cotto will be delivering much heavier shots and it remains to be seen how Pacquiao will hold up to the punches of a true Welterweight fighter.
DT - Manny, why is Pacquiao a two to one favorite?
MS Because his last two fights he looked so great and Cotto’s last two big fights were the worse in his professional career. People judge you off your last performance and that’s reflected in the odds for this fight. You look at what Pacquiao did to Ricky Hatton and it astonished the world, and of course nobody expected him to beat Oscar De La Hoya the way he did just by being too quick for him, even Floyd Mayweather only won a split decision against De La Hoya. Not to take anything away from Pacquiao but the opponents that that Cotto fought were much, much, more difficult than the two that Pacquiao fought. Las Vegas will always go with the guy on a roll and the guy on a roll right now is Manny Pacquiao. He is on a big roll!
DT Manny, how can Cotto possibly win this fight?
MS He’s got to move in and force Pacquiao against the ropes and be very physical with him. Pacquiao is very good with the “in and out” style so he will be very hard to catch. Also, Cotto will have to be careful when he throws a punch because he can’t afford to leave himself open and suffer a knockdown. The knockdowns in the two Marquez fights are what kept Marquez from winning both bouts. Pacquiao has such great precision punches and great eyes. But I can’t see Cotto winning unless he makes this a very physical fight. I just don’t think Cotto could outbox Pacquiao.
DT What’s Pacquiao got to do to win?
MS He’s got to punch “in and out”, punch and move, pivot and turn. He does these things extremely well. Certainly he will be throwing his left hand down the center which will be effective if Cotto uses the same style of defense that he has in previous fights.
DT Manny, there are two prevailing thoughts about Cotto, first he is very hittable and second the ghost of Margarito is still hanging around. Would you agree?
MS To some degree, he has been hit a lot by bigger guys but then again you have to admire the way he has handled himself during these battles. Pacquiao is a very good puncher and we know what he has done against smaller guys. Against Oscar he was hitting him a lot but not hurting Oscar. Cotto can absorb punches a lot better than anyone that Pacquiao has fought to date. That makes a big difference. Sure, he beat Oscar but he never really hurt him or had him down. Pacquiao may be able to punch but I think he will be fighting a guy who will be able to absorb punches a lot better than the recent guys he has fought.
DT Manny both fighters have been cut in prior fights, could that play into the equation?
MS We talked earlier about Cotto being able to handle adversity and he seems to handle these situations very well, also when he is cut he recovers from the cut quicker than Pacquiao. Pacquiao was cut in the first Morales fight and the second Marquez fight and it seem to take him a couple of rounds to recover. You could visibly see that he was using his gloves to wipe the cut and lost focus on his opponent and indeed he lost the next two rounds in both cases. So from what I have seen, yes a cut on Pacquiao could cause the fight to go in a different direction. Cotto has fought the much tougher fighters and as a result has been banged up during his recent fights. You look at the punches he was taking from Margarito and Clottey and you got to wonder if Pacquiao is able to deliver these kinds of blows with the power behind them. Cotto seems to take a step back and get reorganized when he takes a big blow. He has the best survivor skills that I have seen since Evander Holyfield. David, the more we move along with this conversation, Cotto just might be the best of all time when it comes to survivor skills. He has been in several fire fights and found out a way to survive and that’s a point that we have to take into consideration when we are analyzing him as a fighter.
DT Manny, who has the most to win or lose in this fight?
MS David that’s a good question. Cotto has waited his entire career for a super fight and Pacquiao has had 10 super fights. Cotto knows that this is the fight that means everything in the world to him. His career will be defined by this one fight and I believe he knows that fact. If he wins he has many options left for him such as a rematch with Margarito or Mosley. Maybe even a fight with Floyd he will certainly have more super fights in front of him.
DT Could the trainers make a difference?
MS Good point. Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao have seemed to bond so to speak. There has never been a fighter that Freddie has bonded with like Pacquiao. I know he has trained a lot of fighters but the majority of these fighters had already established their styles. Freddie’s guy is Pacquiao, his whole career is based on the job he has done with Pacquiao, kind of like the relationship that Kevin Rooney and Tyson had, so Freddie will have Pacquiao ready for the fight. Cotto has had his problems with his family training him but it seems to have no negative effects on his performance. Cotto is the guy in charge of his camp and he has worked fine with that system. Both fighters are champions and have had some tough fights as we have discussed. They know what must be done to win the fight so in that respect, I don’t believe that there is an edge for either fighter.
DT Manny, if Pacquiao wins as the odds dictate, the world would want to see him fight Mayweather to determine the true P4P king. Care to comment?
MS Floyd is longer and bigger. He is smart enough not to kill himself trying to make weight. So I think it would be a case of Pacquiao trying to impose himself on Floyd but Floyd has the ability to dictate the tempo of the fight. Floyd would have the physical skills and he is a true welterweight. Pacquiao is more of a featherweight so there will be that difference for Pacquiao to deal with against Floyd. Floyd’s weight would be a big advantage in the fight. Floyd would also be the first fighter that Pacquiao has fought that doesn’t have that “fire fight” mentality. Also, Pacquiao would be fighting someone that’s just as fast as he is and we haven’t seen him have to deal with speed. Floyd is probably the best defensive fighter in the game today and that most certainly will play a big role if the fight does happen. It used to be that smaller guys who have the speed could move up in weight and take on the bigger slower guy. But this would be a case where the smaller guy with speed would be moving up against a bigger guy with speed.
DT Do you get as excited as the fans do when you cover a big fight like this one?
MS You bet, I get extremely excited about covering this fight for HBO, this is one of the few fights that has all the elements of being a great fight. This fight has “fight of the year” written all over it and I love being there for these type fights. If I wasn’t doing the broadcast, I would be at home watching it on HBO PPV.
DT Manny it’s great to talk with you again and you have made some great observations about the upcoming mega fight, Cotto vs. Pacquiao this Saturday, November 14th on HBO PPV.
MS David always a pleasure speaking with you. Please stop by and say hello Saturday night.
DT I will say hello to you and all my friends at HBO!
Readers: I hope you have enjoyed the articles posted on doghouse boxing this week that have been devoted to the mega event happening Saturday. At doghouse boxing we certainly would like to thank HBO’s great media relations team, with special thanks to Kris Goddard for his help with the Merchant and Steward interviews.
Like Manny Steward, I am very excited about the fight and hope it turns out to be a war! E-mail me and let me know who you think will win. Best wishes to both Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto.
***David Tyler replies to all his e-mails and loves to hear from the readers. Comments, Questions, Suggestions, E-mail David now at:firstname.lastname@example.org