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LARRY MERCHANT: "PACQUIAO IS A PHENOMENOM SO ANY TIME HE FIGHTS, IT'S BIG"

By Ray Cerda | November 06, 2009
LARRY MERCHANT:

"I think it's the biggest fight of the year. Pacquiao has achieved a status that transcends boxing. Within boxing, I think people started to recognize that he became a modern version of Henry Armstrong, who is one of the great icons of the boxing world. Pacquiao is a phenomenon so anytime he fights, it's big. I don't believe there has been anything this year that has been this anticipated," stated HBO color commentator Larry Merchant as he shared his thoughts on the much anticipated showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto next Saturday Nov.14th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

RC: Larry, can you give us your thoughts on the big fight between Manny and Miguel? 

LM: Well, I hear that Pacquiao is about a 2 to1 favorite at this point. To me, it's a virtually even fight because Cotto is probably the best fighter he's ever fought in terms of size and being a natural welterweight who's in his prime. Also, being a high quality fighter at the same time. Pacquiao has not been confronted with that. Cotto is also very versatile in the ring; can fight aggressively or a pure boxer's fight. So I think Cotto has a serious chance in this fight, but Pacquiao is Pacquiao and his left-handed sudden power is not like anything else in the game of boxing. Fighters never see it coming, which is always the most dangerous punch. It's conceivable that either the punch or the fear of the punch landing could work in his favor in some fashion. I think it will be more of a tactical fight early on and let's see what happens when they start hitting each other.

RC: On a personal level, is this the most anticipated fight of the year for you?

LM: Oh, I think it's the biggest fight of the year. Pacquiao has achieved a status that transcends boxing. Within boxing, I think people started to recognize that he became a modern version of Henry Armstrong, who is one of the great icons of the boxing world. Pacquiao is a phenomenon so anytime he fights, it's big. I don't believe there has been anything this year that has been this anticipated.

RC: Will you be coving the fight for HBO?

LM: Yes, I will be ringside.

RC:  What's your thought on people writing Miguel Cotto off due to the fact he was beat up in the Margarito fight and then had a subpar performance against Joshua Clottey, who, by the way, would give any welterweight problems?

LM: Well, there is a tendency in modern boxing, because the elite fighters fight so infrequently, that too much is made out of one fight, win or lose. Cotto was undefeated and he got beaten up and was forced to quit. Instead of coming back right away like old fighters used to, it festers inside of him. But there is a general feeling in boxing that he's not the same fighter that beat Shane Mosley. I thought he didn't get enough credit for fighting under a handicap against Clottey and finding a way to win that fight. Clottey is a tough fighter and definitely not a stepping stone. Here, in one fight, Cotto has the chance to become bigger than ever. A story of redemption is a big powerful story in boxing as in life. He also has a chance to be restored as the rightful heir to Trinidad and maybe something even bigger than this. This is a huge event for him and it appears he's taken it more than seriously and he has a serious chance here.

RC: So you believe it's more mental than physical damage?

LM: Well, does a guy become a bit gun shy from taking a beaten like that? I think so, even if it's just a fraction. We can speculate all we want, but I think this fight will answer that question

RC: Thank you Larry.

LM: Thanks!

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