Miguel Cotto turned in a solid, efficient performance in stopping Ricardo Mayorga in the twelfth round of their March 12th fight. This was his second foray into the Junior-Middleweight division, his first being last summer's TKO over Yuri Foreman at Yankee Stadium. Cotto was dominant in both fights, but the lasting memory of the Foreman bout was referee Arthur Mercante Jr.'s bizarre refusal of the towel from Yuri's corner.
The highlight of the Mayorga fight may have been the crazy Nicaraguan's antics in the ring: mugging, pouting, taunting, and demanding Cotto to follow him into the corner and engage. Miguel did not oblige, instead methodically outboxing Mayorga at every turn. Impressive as that was, we have not learned a whole lot about Cotto from these past two fights.
Cotto is a great warrior, there is no denying that. He engaged in some of the most entertaining high-level fights of the past decade. He routinely took on the best competition on his way to becoming Welterweight champion, and defended his belt four times against the likes of Zab Judah and Shane Mosley. Heading into that fateful night in July of 2008, Cotto was undefeated and ranked sixth on Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound list.
Along came Antonio Margarito and his possibly loaded gloves.
Looking back, it’s impossible not to notice how much damage Cotto was taking and, of course, wonder did Antonio have an advantage? We will never know. If he did, it’s assault, not boxing. It's as simple as that. But the damage done that night, to a fighter who had already been hurt many times in his career despite a flawless record, was significant.
Miguel came back and took out Michael Jennings, a British fighter not in the same league with Miguel or his recent opponents, and he won a new championship at 147. Then came the Pacquiao fight, and again, he took a lot of punishment in a one-sided defeat.
We have now seen two fights since the second loss of Miguel’s career. He has a new man in his corner, Emmanuel Steward, who seems to be instilling a more technical style in Miguel. He was always an adept boxer, but his strength came from overpowering his opponents, coming forward late in fights, head down and gloves up. He used strength and speed to wear down and ultimately vanquish his opposition.
Miguel Cotto should be able to eat guys like Yuri Foreman for breakfast. And he was a worthy morsel to snack on coming back from the Pacquiao loss. But the Mayorga fight didn’t show me a whole lot, other than that he solidly outboxed a guy who was flailing around throwing wild haymakers and spent as much time talking and posing than fighting. Maybe that’s too hard on Ricardo. I was overall impressed with his determination, and unwillingness to back down.
However, there was no craft or workmanship to his game, just reckless aggression, and a younger Cotto would have torn this guy apart. Cotto’s patience and defense served him well, as he would have won an easy decision, but it also allowed Mayorga to hang around a lot longer than he probably should have. For anyone calling for a Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez mega-fight anytime soon, do you realize what Martinez would have done to Mayorga? He would have utterly outclassed and embarrassed him.
I don’t believe Cotto is still in the discussion to be the best fighter in the world. I hope he proves me wrong. His bravery and heart in the ring is inspiring and his talent is once-in-a-generation. The cloud of suspicion over Margarito and his loaded gloves left the career of Miguel Cotto as its’ biggest casualty. Remember, coming into that fight, he was ranked sixth pound-for-pound.
A win would have probably vaulted him into the top three, and he would have taken an undefeated record and far less physical damage into the superbout with Pac-Man. Will Miguel ever soar that high again? Well, if Bob Arum and company decide to give him a rematch with Manny (an unfortunate decision, in my opinion), he will have his chance.
On another note, there have been some reports that Don King is acting as some kind of spokesman/representative of Floyd Mayweather Jr. in negotiating the mythical Manny Pacquiao fight. After all, Don King and Bob Arum just worked on Cotto-Mayorga together, and there’s a picture of Don King and Floyd Mayweather hanging out…so it only stands to reason…WAIT! I find these reports highly dubious, at best.
If Don King is making some kind of pitch to Bob Arum for a Mayweather fight, he’s acting completely on his own. He does not represent Floyd. He does not promote Floyd. I don’t think there’s any story here. Bob Arum’s Top Rank promotes Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, two of the biggest names in the sport.
Don King promotes Devon Alexander and Tavoris Cloud. You can probably figure out why Don King wouldn’t mind hearing his name involved in the biggest promotion in boxing history, despite this completely flying in the face of the facts that he will likely have NO involvement in that promotion.