One has to love a fight like this, surrounded by as much speculation and questions. As in...
- Did Cotto truly just lose to Margarito because illegal wraps were used?
- Did Clottey breakthrough win against Judah come against a fighter that was dented anyhow?
Big questions. And the interesting thing is that this fight will provide some answers as to their true standing in the division.
What are the first things that come to the mind to the discerning boxing fan when these guys' names come up?
First (courtesy of his last win over a big name opponent), Clottey: To me, "resilient" and "strong" are the two top adjectives that come to mind.
Resilient because it is obvious he can walk through a heavy shelling to land his own punches, and strong because—while not being explosive with single punches—it is obvious he is a very solid physical presence in this division, not easily hurt, and strong and unflinching while pursuing his own attack.
His attack is predictable and mechanical, but given his resilience it seems to tell later on in fights.
The we have Cotto. How well do we really know him? These days people make it sound like he looked unbeatable and then got cheated by a Margarito that packed solid kryptonite in his gloves.
But honestly the truth is that Cotto had shown vulnerability earlier on, with flaws in his defense and lack of one punch knock out power when he upped the level of opponent. He had shown chinks in his armor against lesser opposition.
And to his credit he tried to rediscover forgotten skills in his arsenal based on his vulnerability as he upped his level of opponents: he started to become more of a stylist and rediscover the speed he once had as an amateur.
Their records (even with Margarito included) seem quite similar. They performed similarly against their key common opponents, especially Judah. But the latter may hold a key to this fight: first of all, Judah may have been more convinced of his stardom going into the Cotto fight, and less so going into the Clottey fight.
In fact, he might have left what he still had (provided he ever had all that much as a pro, I regard Judah as a wasted talent) against Cotto, and may have accepted the name opponent role during the Clottey fight.
In a nutshell: Clottey is strong, but mechanical and slow. Cotto has the better speed, perhaps more one punch power, but seems more likely to be hurt. These two will collide trying to make their point to welterweight people championship, Mosley against cheating Margarito be damned! And they are likely to collide hard and entertainingly.
None of them likes a very fast paced fight, so they are likely to take it into the second half. And... what will make the difference there... Clottey's toughness and resiliency, or Cotto's speed?
I'd love to leave it at this, but I know you guys are going to say I chickened out of a prediction. And while I know that the expectation is for Cotto to vindicate his supposedly unfair loss to Margarito, and while I like Cotto a lot, I think this fight may come as too early a test against Cotto.
I think Clottey is hard as nails. I think after they measure each other early on Cotto will get stung once or twice, try to dance, and yet not be quite able to keep up the activity level required to outpoint Clottey.
I predict a decision for Clottey, and a very fun night for the Ghana fans—wish I could join them partying (and they will party no matter what, because Clottey, win or lose, will put on a great show).