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Will Cotto Make it Snappy, And Betters Happy?

Posted on 03/12/2011

The Final Analysis On The Cotto vs Mayorga Matchup

WBA Light Middleweight (154 pound) Title
March 12 Las Vegas
Miguel Angel Cotto vs. Ricardo Mayorga

Bodog Betting Odds:
COTTO -1200, MAYORGA +600
Over 6.5 Rounds -175, Under 6.5 Rounds +125

BetUS Betting Odds:
COTTO -1000, MAYORGA +600
Under 8.5 Rounds -145, Over 8.5 Rounds +115

(All information is for news matter only)

When we watch Miguel Angel Cotto, we’re not completely certain which Cotto we’re going to see. We could see the Cotto who comes forward, landing those thunderous left hooks to the body and head, a state of affairs that was much more prevalent when he was steamrolling overmatched opposition earlier in his career, and which shows up again from time to time. Or we could see the Cotto who is in retreat, circling the ring, often running from the opponent, flicking out jabs and trying to land combinations that don’t really have a whole lot of mustard on them.

One of the problems with Cotto – what has always kept him from becoming a genuine elite fighter, and what will likely not be corrected – is that when he tries the first method, his chin (or lack of same) can get the best of him when he is facing higher-level opposition. And the latter method is simply a sign of weakness. Let’s face it – he’s not nearly as effective as a pure boxer type. And fighters don’t generally win a lot of fights, or look convincing in any way, when they are on the bicycle.

Yes, maybe he needs to mix things up. At least that’s what Emanuel Steward told me. Steward, who took over as the head trainer before Cotto’s last fight with Yuri Foreman, remembers a tape he saw of Cotto in an amateur bout at the age of 17. He said, “I told him he looked like a Sugar Ray Leonard. He was with combinations, moving in and out, he was unbelievable.”

That’s what Steward says he is trying to move toward with Cotto. The footwork comes first, then getting off with combinations. He doesn’t want him running, but he doesn’t him standing right there to be hit either. He’s trying to create the ideal boxer-puncher, who can still get off those left hooks, which Steward says are the best he’s seen on any fighter he’s worked with. And he wants Cotto to be in a position where he can get out of the way if the opponent returns fire.

Okay, almost everybody wants that. And it was admittedly a lot easier in the amateurs. But when fighters get hit, they often go back to default mode. For Cotto, does that mean if he gets cracked by Ricardo Mayorga, he’s going to beat a hasty retreat?

Well, I guess if he gets cracked pretty good he could find trouble, because I do not have much confidence in Cotto’s ability to take a real good punch (or series of punches) for any length of time, and haven’t felt that way since the very light-hitting DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley had him on queer street way back. And I don’t care how much stronger he feels at higher weights like 147 or 154 pounds.

But even though I suppose Mayorga possesses the equalizer, which makes him somewhat viable as a betting underdog because he can throw it from odd angles. That having been said, though, I think that gets trumped by other factors. One of those factors is that I’m not so sure what he’s got left. Mayorga hasn’t won a fight of any kind of real magnitude since beating Michele Piccirillo in 2005. That’s a long time (and should beating a guy named “Michele” really count for much? I’m just askin’).

When I think about Cotto and how he’ll fare here, I imagine that he’d be more vulnerable against an opponent who had a wide variety of skills, who could move him around, keep him off-balance. In other words, a guy who is crafty, even if he isn’t quick (Antonio Margarito proved that). But Mayorga really doesn’t fit that profile. Yes, he may dangerous early on, because he may do some things Cotto is not used to, but in the end he’ll have build a more sustained attack than he’s probably prepared to do, and he isn’t going to “out-cute” Cotto in any way.

When it comes down to it, he’s going to have to win by force and power, and I believe he’ll lose in those departments because Cotto can hurt a fighter who comes right at him. In other words, he’ll meet Mayorga’s force with greater force, and he has a much better skill set. That doesn’t leave Mayorga any real chance but to get very lucky. I won’t disqualify that from happening, but I would bet on it either. I would look for him to take care of things within 8.5 rounds, and maybe even before the midway point of Round 7 (see odds above). And even if Mayorga won, I’m sure it would happen earlier rather than later.

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