Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez: Preview and Prediction for Upcoming Bout

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistOctober 2, 2013

Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez: Preview and Prediction for Upcoming Bout

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    This Saturday in Orlando, Florida, one of the biggest boxing stars of this century returns to action as three-division world champion Miguel Cotto looks to get back in the win column against veteran journeyman Delvin Rodriguez. 

    Few fighters of this generation have enjoyed more fan support than Cotto, but he'll be fighting for the first time in 2013 after going 0-2 in 2012, when he dropped two relatively one-sided decisions. In May he lost to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, and in December he was beaten by Austin Trout. 

    His first fight back is no sure thing. Delvin Rodriguez has lost his share of fights, but he's an experienced and gritty professional who always comes prepared to win. 

     

Tale of the Tape

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    Harry How/Getty Images
    Per Boxrec     Miguel Cotto     Delvin Rodriguez
    Record:     37-4, 30 KOs     28-6-3, 16 KOs
    Height:     5'7"     5'10.5"
    Reach:     67"     70.5"
    Weight:     154 pounds     154 pounds
    Age:     32     33
    Stance:     Orthodox     Orthodox
    Hometown:     Caguas, Puerto Rico     Danbury, Connecticut
    Rounds:     292     221

    Rodriguez is the taller and rangier fighter, and he'll want to use that reach advantage to keep Cotto at the end of his punches and away from his body. Cotto has always had below-average reach for an elite fighter, but his skill and athleticism have usually made up for it. 

    Although Rodriguez is a year older, Cotto probably has more wear on his tires. He suffered brutal TKO losses to Antonio Margarito in 2008 and Manny Pacquiao in 2009. Rodriguez has been in some wars, but he's never sustained the same level of damage. 

     

Main Storylines

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Miguel Cotto made his professional debut in 2001 and won his first 32 fights, 26 by stoppage.

    Along the way he collected world titles at 140 and 147 pounds, beating such top-ranked fighters as Paulie Malignaggi, Carlos Quintana, Zab Judah and Shane Mosley. 

    Cotto was among the biggest stars of the first decade of the century.

    But in July 2008, Antonio Margarito came from behind to stop Cotto by punishing TKO in Round 11.

    That loss is now viewed as highly suspect. In January 2009, Margarito was caught trying to wrap his hands in plaster before his fight with Shane Mosley. Most fans believe he had used the same dirty trick to wear down Cotto.

    Either way, Cotto suffered a lot of damage in the fight. He suffered even more when he lost by Round 12 TKO to Manny Pacquiao in November of the next year. 

    After his loss to Pacquiao, Cotto moved up to light middleweight and put together a three-fight winning streak. In June of 2010 he captured the WBA 154-pound belt when he stopped Yuri Foreman by Round 9 TKO at Yankee Stadium. He stopped Ricardo Mayorga in 12 in March 2011. 

    Cotto won a rematch with Margarito in December 2011 by Round 9 TKO. It was among the biggest fights of the year and set Cotto up for a shot at Floyd Mayweather in May 2012. Cotto made that fight more entertaining than many expected it to be, but he ultimately lost by wide margins on the card.

    Last December he was beaten decisively again, this time by rising star Austin Trout. 

    Cotto enters this fight with Rodriguez on a two-fight skid. To get back on track, he has brought in super-trainer Freddie Roach. Cotto remains a very big name, and a good win could set him up for a high-profile showdown with Saul Alvarez.

    But he'll have to beat Rodriguez first, and that should not be viewed as an automatic result.

    Rodriguez may be a journeyman, but he's a high-class journeyman. He has consistently fought high-level talent and put on entertaining fights. 

    He fought to a draw with Pawel Wolak in July 2011 in a fight that many viewed as the best of the year. He won a rematch with Wolak on the Margarito-Cotto undercard by wide margins. 

    Rodriguez lost by near shutout to Trout in June 2012. He has rebounded with a two-fight win streak, stopping previously unbeaten George Tahdooahnippah in six last February and Freddy Hernandez in eight this past May.

    A fight with Cotto is the kind of big-time opportunity Rodriguez has been awaiting for his entire career. He's an experienced professional, and he'll come prepared to take advantage of this opportunity.

Strengths

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    Miguel Cotto is a complete fighter. He's defensively solid and offensively dangerous. He puts together very fluid combinations but also has one-punch power. 

    Cotto is one of the most ferocious body punchers of his generation. He moves forward behind a very stiff jab, using his footwork to cut off the ring before lowering his level expertly and digging to the body with punishing hooks from either hand.

    He's dropped a lot of opponents to the canvas with brutal and sudden body shots.

     

    Delvin Rodriguez has a very good jab, and he uses it to jar his opponents and hold them in range for damaging uppercuts and overhand rights. He has a very good lead hook as well. 

    Rodriguez is a very good combination puncher. He strings together power shots with both hands, to the body and head in the same exchange. He's not a major knockout puncher, but he has enough power to force opponents to respect him. 

     

     

Weaknesses

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Miguel Cotto is only 32, which doesn't seem particularly old in today's boxing game. But Cotto has been around forever, and he's sustained very significant damage in two different fights.

    North of 30 is traditionally long in the tooth for an elite prizefighter, and Cotto is an old 32.

    Cotto has usually been able to disguise his very ordinary reach with his world-class jab and footwork. But he is vulnerable against a longer fighter who can use his own jab and footwork to keep Cotto on the outside. 

     

    Delvin Rodriguez has been around the sport a long time and never risen higher than the bubble for the top 10. He is very much a quality professional but has always stumbled in his attempts to move up to the elite level. 

    Hard work and preparation in the gym can only go so far towards overcoming natural deficits in talent. 

    Rodriguez has a bad habit of spending more time in the pocket than he needs to, which leads to him getting hit with more punches than he should. In close fights during his career it has cost him rounds.

Miguel Cotto Will Win If...

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    If Miguel Cotto shows up on Saturday and performs at all like the Cotto boxing fans have known and loved for these past dozen years, he should win this fight with Delvin Rodriguez. 

    Cotto will need to move forward behind his jab, cutting off the ring and slipping Rodriguez's own punches as he lowers his level and looks to attack Rodriguez's body. This is a game plan he has executed successfully time and again over the years, often against more talented opponents than Rodriguez. 

    The big question mark for Cotto going into this fight is how much he still resembles his old self. He's facing a tough and experienced professional journeyman who won't be dazzled by his superstar reputation. 

    Cotto went 0-2 in 2012, losing decisively to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout. But Mayweather is the pound-for-pound king and Trout was an undefeated champion with excellent movement. They would have been tough opponents for Cotto at any point in his career. 

    If Cotto can still perform like he did against Antonio Margarito in December 2011, he will win this fight. 

     

Delvin Rodriguez Will Win If...

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    To win this fight, Delvin Rodriguez is going to need to fully exploit his reach advantage and keep Miguel Cotto away from his lanky torso.

    If he allows Cotto to keep getting into position to hit him in the ribs, it will be a very hard night for Rodriguez.

    Rodriguez has a very good jab and uses it well to set up his power punches. He should fight something like he fought in his rematch with Pawel Wolak, when he scored on the stockier fighter all night with a crisp jab/right uppercut combination.

    But to be successful keeping Cotto at the end of his jab, Rodriguez will have to use movement, too. Even if Cotto is only a shadow of his old self, if Rodriguez remains stationary in front of him throwing punches, Cotto will be able to time him and slip inside.  

Prediction

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    I have a lot of respect for both of these fighters, and part of me is tempted to pick Delvin Rodriguez to turn in the biggest night of his career and pull off the upset. If he does, it will be one of my favorite boxing stories of the year. 

    But I have to be realistic here.

    Miguel Cotto has been an elite fighter for most of his career, and Rodriguez has consistently performed a notch or two below that. 

    At 32, Cotto is obviously not the same fighter he was prior to his TKO losses to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao. He's coming into this bout on a two-fight losing streak. 

    But this time he isn't fighting a pound-for-pound superstar like Floyd Mayweather or an undefeated champion in his 20s like Austin Trout. He's fighting a journeyman who is a year older than he is.  

    Rodriguez is a dangerous opponent, but an opponent he should beat. By all appearances, Cotto has been putting in good work with Freddie Roach to prepare himself.

    I'm picking Miguel Cotto to win by decision, 116-112. I have my doubts about Cotto ever again being a truly significant player at the elite level of the sport, but I can imagine him having at least one more major fight next year, probably against Saul Alvarez.

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