MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxing icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao warned unbeaten American star Floyd Mayweather Jr. not to underestimate Miguel Cotto, because the Puerto Rican boxer gave him his toughest fight in recent years.
"(Mayweather) thinks that Cotto is an easy opponent, but he's not," Pacquiao told Boxing Scene. "Cotto is a good boxer, and he's strong."
"He needs to train hard, because Cotto is strong, very strong," he added.
Pacquiao said it was Cotto, and not his great rival Juan Manuel Marquez, who gave him the toughest challenge of his career.
Pacquiao defeated Cotto via a 12th round technical knockout when they fought in 2009.
Pacquiao and Marquez have fought three times, with all three bouts ending in controversy. Their latest meeting in November 2011 ended in Pacquiao's favor even though the Filipino icon struggled anew against Marquez's counterpunching and footwork.
Despite this, Pacquiao still considers his bout against Cotto as the toughest.
"Through five rounds, (Cotto) was leading on points," he said. "If you saw the fight, one through five rounds, he was keeping up and leading on points."
Pacquiao eventually ended up wearing down Cotto with his speed and power en route to the TKO victory.
The Filipino boxer added that Cotto has "a big chance to win" against Mayweather, even though his trainer, Freddie Roach, disagrees.
"I think Mayweather can out-box (Cotto)," Roach said.
Roach is hoping that Cotto "gets one in and knocks him out and just shuts this guy up," but added that the Puerto Rican star is already on the downside of his career.
The Hall-of-Fame trainer is sure that no matter the result, the Mayweather-Cotto bout will not be exciting.
"I don't see it as being a really exciting fight... Mayweather is never in a really exciting fight anyway," he said.
Mayweather, widely considered as the finest defensive boxer of his generation, is unbeaten through in 42 professional bouts. Cotto, meanwhile, has a 37-2 record, with losses coming against Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito.