Miguel Cotto Is a Shadow of His Former Self

Joe OneillCorrespondent IIMay 31, 2010

LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 14:  Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico looks on from the ring before losing to Manny Pacquiao by 12th round TKO during their WBO welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 14, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

They say that a boxing match is like getting into a car wreck every 20 seconds. That the brutality within the ring is why most boxers only fight a couple of times a year.

Then there are the fights that aren't like getting into a car wreck every 20 seconds, they're more like being in an airline crash every 15 seconds.

Fighters are never the same after just one of these fights.

Meldrick Taylor was never close to the same fighter after his epic brawl with Julio Cesar Chavez.

Fernando Vargas was a changed fighter after Oscar De La Hoya stopped him.

More recently, Jermaine Taylor looked like a defeated man after Kelly Pavlik beat him up.

There are just some fights that change men. They are so hard psychologically, that the fighter never returns to the same person. The physical wounds heal quickly, the emotional wounds sometimes never heal.

Boxers are odd birds. The great ones don't have an ounce of fear, or an ounce of worry, within them. They are 100 percent confident in their skills and they will be victorious.

Many of them haven't lost a fight in years, and most of those come in the amateurs when it was on a point system.

That ego, that self-confidence, is a fragile thing. Witness the minions that Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao surround themselves with.

Yes-men who constantly extol platitudes and compliments on the fighter. They tell him that he's the best, that he can't be beat, and, in turn, he believes them.

Never a negative word is mentioned. Never a word of caution. Everything is positive.

Once a fighter loses a fight, that facade of invincibility is lifted forever. They know, for the first time, that they can be beaten, and beaten soundly. They know there's someone badder out there waiting for them.

The scars of being continually hit never seem to heal fully.

They lose the edge.

Miguel Cotto has lost it.

He lost it after Antonio "The Cheater" Margarito made Swiss cheese of his face using plaster casts within his hand wrap in July 2008.

He barely won a controversial decision over Joshua Clottey last June. It was a tough fight that I thought Cotto lost.

He never looked like he recovered from those beatings when he stepped into the ring last November with Manny Pacquiao.

Freddie Roach even said as much prior to the fight.

Manny put a whooping on Cotto, that's all there is too it. He had him backing up and on his bicycle practically the entire fight.

The bigger, stronger fighter being bullied by the smaller man.

Mercifully, the referee stopped it in the 11th round. I thought he waited two rounds too long.

So here it is only six months later, and Cotto is stepping in with Yuri Foreman.

Bad idea.

Foreman is dangerous. He's good. He's aggressive and hungry. He's looking for a stepping stone on his way to a big-money bout with Pacquiao or Mayweather.

Cotto is perfect for him.

I don't know why Cotto isn't taking some warm-up bouts. Pick a couple of fighters he knows he can beat and regain some of his lost confidence.

Perhaps his management team simply feel, at 29, he's at the end of the his rope and want one more big payday while his name still carries some panache?

It just goes to show how quickly things can change in the fight game. Just two years ago, Cotto was being touted as the next comer in the welterweight division. He had wins over Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi, Shane Mosley, and Carlos Quintana.

Then came the Margarito fight.

I can't imagine stepping into the ring with someone like Antonio Margarito with hard plaster under his gloves. For 11 rounds, Cotto gamely stood in and took his punishment.

His face was swollen and bruised and bloody by the end of the fight. His eye sockets were mere slivers due to the swelling and the punishment he absorbed.

Imagine fighting a guy with brass knuckles for 33 minutes and you have an idea with Miguel Cotto had to endure.

It wasn't fair. It wasn't right. Cotto was well on his way to greater glory and greener pastures before Margarito cheated and beat up on him (one side note, Margarito was never caught cheating in that fight, but in his next fight with Shane Mosley. Still, I assume he had been using the same tactics in his fight with Cotto).

I, personally, would like to see him fight Margarito him once again with a chance at redemption. I think that fight could happen whether Cotto wins or loses his fight with Foreman. No, Margarito doesn't deserve it, but the publicity would be massive.

Until then, I think Miguel Cotto is simply another cautionary tale in the harsh and brutal world of boxing. I hope he comes back to the fighter he was prior to Margarito, but the odds are against him.