I do not know whether you could call me a fan of Miguel Cotto or not. It depends on how you want to look at it. I respect him as a good fighter, but I don’t go along with the idea of him as an elite competitor. He is eminently beatable by fighters who possess a lot of class, except that, sadly, there are not a lot of fighters around today who HAVE very much class.
I just can’t shake this image I have of an early pro fight of Cotto’s. If I remember correctly, the opponent that day was a tall guy named Martin Ramirez, a losing fighter who was not inexperienced by any means, but the possessor of a 4-10 record. He had scored mild upsets over Scott Walker and Jesse Varela in two of his previous bouts. But to be honest, from an offensive standpoint he had very little to offer, and a fighter like that would normally be expected to have nothing to keep someone as strong or as powerful as Cotto from literally bowling him over.
Yet, Ramirez managed to stay in the fight until the end. He did this simply by moving from side to side, and Cotto, who had walked through his first few opponents, looked sharp when Ramirez was standing in front of him, but when Ramiez was moving, he looked a tad confused, not like the new Oscar De La Hoya, which was what I think Top Rank wanted for him (after Oscar took a walk on them).
Yes, I understand that while this was just Cotto’s fourth pro fight, but I also know that he was hardly a babe in the woods as far as boxing was concerned, as he had competed in a lot of amateur tournaments, where he developed the reputation that prompted Top Rank to bring him on board in the first place. While he handled this fighter who had been in with decent opposition, it wasn’t in the way you would expect from a future “superstar” with a genuine amateur background.
And if you have some command over the subject matter, your instincts tell you whether someone is on a path where he will one day challenge to be the best fighter in the world, which seemed to be the intended career trajectory. On that day Cotto was a pursuer and someone who showed impressive upper body movement, but as the opposition got better he became less aggressive, and when he was, he found himself in wars with fighters who should have had no business in the ring with him, if we were to believe the hype.
So I guess the point is that while the guy is exciting and talented, he’s not in the class of the Pacquiaos and Mayweathers, and probably won’t ever be. He sort of reminds me of Edwin Rosario, and I’m probably not the first person who’s ever said that.
Rosario was not an elite fighter, and neither is Cotto.
An elite fighter might have been able to get Ricardo Mayorga out of there sooner, even though I’m perfectly willing to concede that Mayorga was game and in shape. An elite fighter may have been thrown off-balance a little, but would have easily mitigated the effect of Mayorga’s unorthodoxy with a far superior skill set.
That said, he was nonetheless credible in all departments. Even though Cotto was hurt at one point, and benefited from the fact that it happened very late in the seventh round, I think he did a pretty good job of handling Mayorga’s punches.
There was a workmanlike quality to his effort, and you could see the by-product of his work with Steward, who is a little different than most trainers who are perceived as “gurus” in that he hasn’t made his mark strictly by piggybacking onto the careers of established fighters (we’re not mentioning any names). Even though he didn’t look sensational, there was a discipline in him that will serve him well as he continues.
As you heard, the guy he wants to continue against is Antonio Margarito, and frankly, I don’t blame him one bit. For one thing, Margarito may have degenerated a little as a fighter, so he could be ripe. When you have been emasculated by Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao, the effect had to be lasting. Not to mention, there will always be a question as to what might have been in his gloves when he stopped Cotto the first time around.
Plus, if Cotto follows Steward to the letter, he won’t find himself employing the ridiculous retreat that contributed to getting him beat that night. That, in and of itself, might be good enough. At this point, I don’t think it takes an “elite” fighter to beat Margarito.
This may indeed be a very opportune time.
Most importantly of all, because of the possibility of scandal that tainted that first Margarito fight, and the reasonable doubt that Cotto backers might try to cast on it as a result, this one will probably make for good box office. And after all, when you get past everything else, “box office” is about the best thing Miguel Cotto has going for him right now.