Fights like this are why I love boxing. This is pure, the pay-per-view bout Saturday. Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto are two of the most exciting fighters of the last decade, delivering explosive action every single time they enter the ring. They are the elite of the elite — set weight aside, and Pacquiao is the best fighter in the sport, while Cotto is in the top 5. There is no one on Earth either of them wouldn’t fight, each owning wins against the best possible opponents they could conceivably have found. Both have rabid followings in their homelands that ought to make the MGM Grand the loudest place in the world Nov. 14. And by almost sheer virtue of what Pacquiao and Cotto do in the ring, this is a mega-fight in America even though Pacquiao and Cotto are mild-mannered personalities who don’t speak English as their first language.
The last mega-fight, Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez in September, was much more like most mega-fights: A bout that caught on because one of the participants, Mayweather, had made himself famous outside the hardcore boxing fan base, but a fight that no one expected to be all that fun to behold and wasn’t. Pacquiao has made himself famous outside the boxing fan base — when Shaquille O’Neal changes his nickname to “Manny Shaquiao” and Jay-Z name checks you, you’ve officially made it – but everyone expects this fight to be fun, and if it isn’t it’ll be a more shocking upset of the odds than any actual boxing result.
I hope a lot of eyes will be on this fight. There’s a saying Christian rock bands have: They don’t want to just be crossovers. They want to carry the cross over. Pacquiao-Cotto is the kind of bout that has a chance to give non-boxing fans religion. So there’s plenty at stake.