Miguel Cotto Defeats Joshua Clottey in Potential Fight of Year

Alex SmithContributor IJune 14, 2009

I haven't been writing articles on here since moving to Minnesota. Between entering (and subsequently leaving) college and working on music, boxing hasn't been high on my list of priorities lately. But thanks to a free preview of HBO (I got cable, but didn't get the movie channels), I found out about the welterweight bout between Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey.

Cotto (34-1, 27 KO,) who had a giant home-ring advantage being in New York on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, took Clottey (35-3 20 KO) to 12 rounds and won by split decision, regaining his WBO Title in a controversial and exciting fight that has to be considered for Fight of the Year.

Cotto started out working the jab combos and moving around the larger Clottey, who put on 20 pounds after weigh-ins for a fight weight of 160. Cotto ended the opening round with a quick knockdown. Despite Joshua's tendency to be very selective with his punches, the first four rounds were even.

However, a change came in the third round when an accidental headbutt opened a large gash over Cotto's right eye. New cutman Joe Chavez did an amazing job patching up the cut the rest of the fight and keeping the battle going.

After the incident, Clottey was literally out for blood, throwing power right hooks and cross combos to the face and eye of Cotto and winning the middle rounds on most of the cards. Cotto was persistent, though, countering on many of Clottey's shots and pressing the action despite considerable streams of blood flowing into his eye.

In the fifth round, Cotto seemed to body-slam Clottey after a hold attempt late in the round. But a second look showed that Clottey slipped on the wet canvas in the corner and got up limping off his left knee.

The slight setback hurt him in the next two rounds as Cotto countered and jabbed Clottey into the corner, tagging him with big shots, but Clottey stood his ground and even shook his head to signal that he wasn't hurt by the blows.

As the warriors started to wear down late, the rowdy pro-Cotto Madison Square Garden crowd gave them enough energy to battle on. By the 12th and final round, the crowd of over 19,000 was on their feet. Cotto controlled the pace once again, fearing that he was behind in the scorecards. When the final bell rung, both combatants embraced and raised arms in victory.

The two judges who gave the fight to Cott had him winning by much larger decisions than I or probably anyone else expected (115-112 and 116-111). I personally had the bout scored as a 114-114 draw, seeing that both fighters overcame injuries, and despite Cotto throwing more punches overall, both evenly traded power shots and combos throughout the bout.

Looking back, this is one of the best fights I have seen in years, and definitely a bout I would strongly consider to be the Fight of the Year.