By: Kirk Jackson
Although technically from Providence, RI, Miguel Cotto represented the nation of Puerto Rico at the sport of boxing with pristine dignity and grace.
It just so happens another one of boxing’s greatest fighters joins the list of former pugilists entering the retirement home this year.
A star studded list, featuring the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Andre Ward, Wladmir Klitschko, Robert Guerrero, Timothy Bradley and now Miguel Cotto.
The first weekend of December marked the end of a great career for the boxing legend, as he bid farewell to the fans and treated spectators to one more exhilarating action-packed bout.
"Thank you fans for supporting me at every moment. I am so glad to call Madison Square Garden my home." — @RealMiguelCotto
— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) December 3, 2017
Although his last appearance did not go as anticipated, losing a unanimous decision to Sadam Ali, the Puerto Rican star’s legacy still shines bright as he searches for other endeavors to occupy his time post boxing career.
When I think of Miguel Cotto and his contributions to the sport along with his style of boxing and persona, I envision a silent, cerebral, destructive assassin.
It’s interesting analyzing Cotto as a fighter because based off interviews and brief interactions, the general consensus is he quiet, serious and obviously dedicated towards his family and craft.
It’s suggested, Cotto’s stone-cold ring persona matched his artistic exploits on the canvas known as the squared circle.
Traits reflecting in the ring – whether it was his comprehensive, clinical beat-downs of eventual two-division world champion Paulie Malignaggi or another two-division champion from Brooklyn Zab Judah.
Or even the graphic, demoralizing thrashing like the one administered to Carlos Quintana.
One of the weapons of choice highlighted in the fight against Quintana was actually a staple in many of Cotto’s fights. His patented left hook to the body.
The gut-crushing, rib-cracking left hooks to the body; with the occasional shot to the groin (ask Zab Judah) was the bread and butter for Cotto throughout his career.
While as a fan it was aesthetically pleasing to watch, as an opponent it probably gave them nightmares and painful flashbacks.
But Cotto’s soul snatching left hooks were all set up by arguably his greatest physical tool; his left jab. As a natural southpaw, he converted to the orthodox stance, thus allowing his potent left jab to serve as a power jab.
Oscar De La Hoya and Andre Ward are converted orthodox fighters like Cotto, while Marvin Hagler and Manny Pacquiao are converted southpaws; go figure.
Not only is Cotto’s jab strong and precise, but his ability to place his jab on opponents at the right time and place is because of great instincts and timing.
Superior timing allows a fighter to be effective despite physical speed disadvantages when pitted against a quicker opponent.
The instinctive rhythm, the instinct itself is an equalizer against speed demons. This equalizer enabled Cotto to remain competitive against Mayweather when they fought in 2012. Cotto jab and innate level of timing assisted his efforts against Malignaggi, Judah and Shane Mosley as well.
Aside from Cotto’s technical prowess – highlighted by the aforementioned left hook to the body, potent jab and combination punching, his vulnerability as a fighter endeared him to fans.
Several times throughout the course of his career he was rocked, visibly stunned with birds chirpin, yet he managed to not only survive the onslaught but dished out his get-back in return.
Check his fights against Ricardo Torres, DeMarcus Corley, Joshua Clottey, Mosley, Judah and most recently against Ali if you want to view examples of determination and courage.
Along with being one of the icons of boxing along with Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao during the 2000’s and extending into the 2010’s, Cotto in particular carried Puerto Rico on his back. Much like another Hall of Famer, Felix “Tito” Trinidad.
Not easy foot steps to follow and while not possessing the same level of national admiration amongst the Puerto Rican population, Cotto still carried the country on his back with the departure of Trinidad and did so with class. He also represented well for the Nuyoricans; fighting in New York thirteen times.
“Thank you for supporting me at every opportunity,” Cotto told his fans. “I’m so glad to call Madison Square Garden my home.”
Cotto finishes with a record of 41-6 (33 KO’s) and is a six time world champion across four weight classes. He holds the distinction as the only Puerto Rican fighter with world titles across four weight divisions.
Cotto has a record of 19-5 (16 KO’s) in world title fights, along with a record of 16-5 (12 KO’s) against world titlists.
Cotto defeated the likes of Carlos Maussa, Lovemore N’dou, Randall Bailey, DeMarcus Corley, Ricardo Torres, Paul Malignaggi, Carlos Quintana, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey, Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga, Antonio Margarito, Sergio Gabriel Martinez and Daniel Geale.
He suffered defeats against Antonio Margarito, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Austin Trout, Saul Alvarez and Sadam Ali. (There could be an asterisk with some of the listed defeats).
Against Margarito, his opponent may have used illegal “Plaster of Paris,” hand wraps which harden when wet and turns into a hard brick-like substance.
Against Pacquiao, Cotto endured the turmoil of a tumultuous relationship with his trainer/uncle and was forced to engage Pacquiao at a catch-weight of 145 lbs. to even enter the fight with the distinction as a champion. Who know what mental and physical effects that had on the fight?
Those two encounters alone showcase the future Hall of Famer battling a cheater (Margarito) and combating preferential treatment from his own promoter at the time Bob Arum.
It should be noted Freddie Roach, Nacho Beristain, among other trainers believe Cotto prevailed over Alvarez.
“Cotto, from two years ago began to become a rare phenomenon, a Mexican boxing idol. Many people spoke very well of him, after he won the fight against Canelo Alvarez and [the judges] gave it to Canelo. He’s an idol in Mexican boxing, I’m going to miss him, as I miss all the great boxers, he’s an excellent boxer, with a very refined style,” Beristain said.
Win or loss, Cotto defined what the sport should be about and his contributions will not be forgotten. Enjoy retirement.
Peace to the King representing Caguas, Puerto Rico.