When ‘American Idol’ Meets ‘Rocky’

If the winner of American Idol season seven were to be picked purely from the performances in the finale, the world would be crowning David Archuleta, much to the dismay of Simon Cowell, who told both Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres he’s pulling for 25-year-old former bartender David Cook, who auditioned on a lark.

“You came out here tonight to win,” he acquiesced to the tiny Idol wannabe, whose legions of fans are called Arch Angels, after his third song of the night, “and what we have witnessed is a knockout.”

The boxing metaphor was apt, if way overdone, given that the two contenders were paraded out in a Rocky-like entrance, complete with gloves and silk robes, and forced to face off and knock fists. Good thing Syesha wasn’t in the final.

But it was a match-up for the ages, and both came out swinging, with each David doing three songs: a Clive Davis pick, one from songwriter submissions and one personal fave.

Round one, though Cook seared in U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” went to Archuleta after Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” And the boy has clearly taken to heart Andrew Lloyd Webber’s previous tip to “just keep your eyes open.” Randy Jackson cited “one of the best performances of this whole season,” as the shaking, teary 17-year-old Mormon daddy’s boy almost crumbled with humble gratitude.

King Clive’s picks went to Archuleta as well, though Paula Abdul comforted the consistently cool-as-a-cucumber Cook with, “You’re standing in your truth and delivering unbelievable songs with integrity and originality.” Uh, yeah, whatever that means.

The third head-to-head went to Archie whose rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” prompted Simon to tell the world it’s just witnessed “one of the great finals.” Then they nixed that with a Ruben Studdard performance? Ruben Studdard to close out a finale…WHAT?!

Upward of 70 million votes are expected in a Wednesday results show touted to feature the “biggest star in the world.” And despite the on-air fawning for Archuleta, a TV Guide survey has Cook tops with viewers at 76 percent.

Who’s YOUR pick? Take our poll at right, and tell us!