By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Manny Pacquiao hopes he is the fighter that defeats Floyd Mayweather Jr. for the first time.
The Filipino superstar thus wants Mayweather to get past Miguel Cotto on May 5 in Las Vegas. If Mayweather expects this to be an easy fight for him, however, Pacquiao implored the heavily favored five-division champion to think again.
“That’s a good fight, Floyd and Cotto,” Pacquiao said. “He thinks that Cotto is an easy opponent, but he’s not. Cotto is a good boxer, he’s strong. He needs to train hard, because Cotto is strong, very strong.”
Pacquiao added Cotto has a “big chance to win the fight” and said Cotto, not Juan Manuel Marquez, gave him his toughest fight in recent years. When reminded his majority decision win against Marquez on Nov. 12 in Las Vegas seemed more difficult than his 12th-round technical knockout victory over Cotto two years earlier, Pacquiao didn’t budge.
“Through five rounds, [Cotto] was leading [on] points,” Pacquiao said. “If you saw the fight, one through five rounds, he was keeping up and leading [on] points.”
Unlike Pacquiao, trainer Freddie Roach wouldn’t mind seeing someone other than Pacquiao beat Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs). He just doesn’t think Cotto (37-2, 30 KOs) is capable of pulling off that type of upset at this stage of the three-division champion’s 11-year pro career.
“I think Mayweather can out-box him,” Roach said. “I don’t think Mayweather can knock him out. I hope Cotto does well. I hope he gets one in and knocks him out and just shuts this guy up. Somebody’s got to shut this guy up. I mean, the guy’s like an expert on everything, from basketball to … but I think Cotto is still on the downside a little bit. I don’t think he’s what he was back in the day. I think Mayweather will out-box him, but I don’t see it as being a really exciting fight, though. Mayweather is never in a really exciting fight anyway.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for the Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.