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Cotto Wins, But Mayorga Exceeded Expectations

Emanuel Steward wanted Miguel Cotto to get on his toes, stick and move, and play the role of the boxer-puncher against Ricardo Mayorga. I think Cotto tried to do exactly that,.and for the most part he succeeded.

He had a clear edge against Ricardo Mayorga in his WBA light middleweight (or super welterweight, whichever you prefer) title fight on Saturday night, and though he may not have enhanced his reputation in everybody’s mind, he still earned it.

Mayorga learned two lessons that all fighters at his level of experience should know:

Lesson #1 — Guys throwing straight punches generally beat guys throwing wide punches.

Lesson #2 — It’s not a good idea to hook with a hooker.

That second lesson was administered by Cotto by way of ending the fight at 53 seconds of the twelfth and final round.

Unfortunately, Mayorga will probably never benefit from those lessons because he announced his retirement to Showtime interviewer Jim Gray in the ring after the fight.

I have to tell you, however – he made it exciting while it lasted. And that was because there was the looming threat of one of those wild punches landing in that “sweet spot” that would send Cotto, who’s been hurt by far lesser punchers, reeling. Some of those punches connected, though not enough of them. Mayorga tried to bait Cotto into making it a barroom brawl, but Cotto, to his credit, wasn’t really making himself readily available for that.I will say this much – when Mayorga was throwing straight punches, he was able to reach Cotto, who was probably a little thrown off. But again, there were not enough of those punches that found their mark.

Credit has to go to Mayorga, who came into this fight with a dearth of accomplishment in recent years. Just take a look at the record; Two and a half years ago he fought and got stopped by Shane Mosley. Fernando Vargas had been off two straight losses to Mosley, was ten pounds out of his weight class, and hadn’t fought in 16 months when he was beaten by Mayorga. It was also his last pro fight. Mayorga lost to Oscar De La Hoya before that, so what it amounts to is that he had no wins of any real impact for a 5-1/2 year period.

And that’s only if you count his victory over Michele Piccirillo – he of the puffed-up record – as something of impact. if you don’t, you’d have to go back to July 2003, when he won his second straight fight over Vernon Forrest. So what I’m trying to convey is that, having said all that, and considering that he is 37 years old and getting +600 in the betting odds (Cotto was -1000 at BetUS), Mayorga was the one in this fight who exceeded the expectations. He just didn’t have what my Marine friends refer to as “the preponderance of firepower.” And, well, I guess he quit with that hand “injury,” although with Mayorga, I guess something bizarre had to surface sooner or later.

So here we are with another win by Cotto, over a pretty good fighter who is not part of the game’s elite. The Puerto Rican star may never have an opportunity to prove that he can beat a fighter like that (don’t throw Mosley’s name at me) and may never be up to the task. But he demonstrated that he could follow a game plan, and didn’t wilt or go into a shell against an opponent who was aggressive and was not about to back down from him.

Did this show that he could beat, say, Antonio Margarito in a rematch? Hmmm, good question, and something worth exploring in the next piece. Stay tuned.

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