What Lies Ahead for Pacquiao and Cotto? (Post-November 14)
Predicting the winner of Pacquiao-Cotto has polarized the boxing community. A myriad of different results seem plausible, each having its own far-reaching impact. Whatever happens, the trajectories of both men’s careers will be largely determined by the result. Let’s examine the different possibilities.
If Pacquiao Wins in a Rout
A quick knockout, or even a one-sided prolonged battering would do two things: Firmly establish Pacquiao as a welterweight mainstay, and eliminate Cotto from the boxing big-time. Manny’s superstar status will be further confirmed, while those who felt Cotto was damaged goods would be vindicated.
Pacquiao has been setting the world on fire, but he’s yet to do it against a true welterweight threat like Cotto. There are still those who question Manny’s viability at this high of a weight.
A convincing win over one of the best welterweights in the world would put those questions to bed. He would then be able to set his sights on the best of the rest at 147, where the options are endless, including a blockbuster with fellow #1 pound-for-pound claimant, Floyd Mayweather.
This scenario would spell doom for Cotto. There is evidence pointing to him not being what he once was, and a comprehensive loss here would really lock in that perception. It would be a huge blow to his career, and while some big fights could still potentially be had, it would be difficult to justify him as a PPV attraction anymore. A resounding knockout loss here could spell the end for Cotto as a top guy.
If Pacquiao Wins a Close and Competitive Fight
For Pacquiao, nothing much would change. He’d be validated as a top welterweight, his star would continue to rise, and he would continue to pursue big fights at 147. If the closeness of the fight is matched by its excitement, there could be a rematch.
If Cotto loses, but manages to keep it close, he can still come out of this okay. He can find redemption in losing, as a close fight against the number one guy in the sport could actually elevate his standing and end the talk of him being shot. He would still be a top guy at 147, and be able to pursue big fights: a huge grudge rematch against Margarito, or a Mosley rematch. If Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations hit a snag, he could get the call. The bottom-line is he would still have options, retain his marketability, and remain a force in the game. This would not be such a horrible scenario for Cotto.
If Cotto Wins in a Rout
Does Cotto become the number one guy in the sport? It would be hard to make a case for Mayweather if Cotto were able to blow away Pacquiao in convincing style. It would cast further doubt on the Margarito loss, strengthening the speculation that there was dirty work afoot in that loss. It would be a career-defining win that would vault Cotto’s standing exponentially, not only in the division, but historically as well. The big matches would be his for the taking.
For Pacquiao, a bad loss would raise a lot of questions. Was his success partially a mirage? Did he benefit from taking on big-name fighters (De La Hoya, Hatton, Morales and Barrera) when they were at the end of their careers? Many people will be eager to write off many of his triumphs if he gets trounced.
With all-time greatness in his grasp, a resounding defeat here would cast some doubt on his legacy, as we would be forced to review his prior work with a more critical eye. While he may be able to secure and win a rematch, this is the last thing Manny needs at this stage if he wants to make a serious run toward the all-time top five list.
If not given a timely rematch, Pacquiao would likely be compelled to drop back down to junior welterweight where he is the recognized champion to pursue matches with Tim Bradley and other 140-pound stalwarts, including his old nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez. But it would be a long way back to the position he now enjoys.
If Cotto Wins a Close and Competitive Bout
For Cotto, merely winning would do wonders for his career. It doesn’t need to be a whitewash, as he is the underdog and that’s probably too much to ask against the best fighter in the game. A Cotto win in any form would put him right back on top, silencing all the critics.
For Pacquiao, a close defeat would obviously be far less damaging than a clear one. The perception would not be so much that he’s not great, but perhaps that he bit off more than he could chew. It would show he’s not a real welterweight, something we maybe never had the right to think in the first place.
For a guy who began his career at 106 pounds, and was fighting at 130 as recently as 18 months ago, it’s asking a lot for him to be a welterweight powerhouse. We would be forced to re-calibrate our expectations, and acknowledge that he is indeed not Superman.
He would probably abandon the division, but not necessarily be stripped of his superstar status. His mystique, however, would still take a substantial hit.
Summary of the Pacquiao Cotto Possible Outcomes
A lot is riding on this fight, more than even meets the eye. This is a career-defining kind of fight for two of the biggest draws of the last decade, and their futures and legacies are at stake. In addition, the future of a few different weight classes and all the fighters in those divisions could be greatly impacted by what happens on the 14th.
One hesitates to call a bout between two established superstars a “crossroads fight,” but when one reviews the massive range of possible consequences of this match-up, it’s difficult not to call it that. The result could be the kind where both emerge status quo, or the kind that shakes the world of boxing to its foundation, or maybe somewhere in between. We won’t know until it’s over.
We can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
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