Miguel Cotto: Dissecting the Boxing Star's Latest Victory
I was waiting for Miguel Cotto - Yuri Foreman fight to happen.
So many questions needed to be answered, and some of them haven't been yet. That being said, it was overall a good performance by both fighters and a solid bout.
But right now my focus is on Cotto. I feel sympathy for this guy. His two losses came at the hands of Antonio Margarito (suspected of using illegal hand wraps) and Manny Pacquiao (who some may believe could be on steroids). Plus, his father recently passed away, so the Foreman bout wasn't just another fight for the Puerto Rican star.
Now let's analyze what I found to be good points in Miguel's favor.
Cotto had a great approach to the Foreman fight. He was prudent enough to recognize that his history of cuts wouldn't allow him to stand toe-to-toe and trade punches with bigger guys. He understands that he has to outbox his opponent most of the times. He looked very smart and disciplined, working behind an improving jab. He outboxed a boxer, something the younger Cotto would have never done.
Cotto knew when to pick his shots. He has to get better, but what I saw was enough to make me believe he is a good student and is willing to learn even more from trainer Emmanuel Steward.
This was Cotto's main problem vs Pacquiao. Though he outboxed Pacquiao for the first three rounds, he got caught with shots that put him down mainly because of his bad balance. He did not look bothered by Foreman's big shots. The reason? He knew how to absorb them better. Foreman rarely landed clean hits on Cotto, and that leads to the next point.
As much as casual fans hate to consider that somebody has to defend himself rather than swarm all over his opponent, I like this aspect of boxing. Cotto sometimes employed a peek-a-boo style of dodging, other times he simply deflected shots with his gloves. He sometimes knew what shots Foreman was firing and was ready to take them.
Although he might not use this punch as much as did in the first part of his career, the left hook remains the best weapon Cotto's arsenal. He had limited success when he threw it to start a combination, but looked great when he used it as a counter. Also he learned how to throw it while keeping his right hand close to his face to protect his chin and right eye. Basically the right hand was on his cheek.
I also found some areas Cotto and Steward should work on.
I know that Foreman was his first fight as a junior middleweight. It means that he had to gain weight therefore sacrificing speed. But how he will suffer against better opponents who might be just as fast as Foreman. Speed will make him better, especially with the left hook that missed too much while being thrown as a lead punch against Foreman.
Cotto showed no improvement at all in this department. I expect him to get better next time, because it's clear that you can't address all your deficiencies in just five weeks of training. But I believe Steward will work on it, but don't expect much. Steward teaches how not to get hit mainly by sidestepping in time and shifting balance.
There were some tricks and traps here and there, as shown by the double jab that caught Foreman off guard sometimes, or the jab feint followed by a strong straight hand. I feel that Cotto could use some more of these, and I believe he will have to, facing tougher opponents.
Foreman was a good test for Cotto. The old Cotto probably would've jumped on Foreman and would've closed the deal in four or maybe five rounds. But does that alone mean the old Cotto (pre-Margarito form) was better? No way.
As I say to the casual fans is don't get excited by knockout artists, because lots of them are just one- dimensional fighters. Cotto proved he has also the skills to compete at this division, although I won't throw him in the right with Paul Williams and Sergio Martinez yet. He still has to regain full confidence. This was the first and most important step, but more success will have to follow for Miguel.
I'd like more a rematch with Pacquiao at 149-pounds. This is a far better Cotto than the "damaged goods" version who almost got beated by Joshua Clottey. He clearly benefited from the switch of trainers and still has plenty of room for improvement. He is not done at this point of his career.
I wish him good luck.
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