By Jackie Kallen
Will Freddie Roach be Miguel Cotto’s secret weapon when he faces off against Delvin Rodriguez October 5 in Orlando on HBO? He is banking on it. He knows that another loss (he has dropped his last two in a row) could send to him the dreaded “Palookville” Resort. Not a place any fighter wants to end up at.
Roach is reportedly putting the spark back into Cotto, as well as giving him a remedial course in body punching, and a renewed zest for the sport. As a former champ, Cotto knows what it’s like to be at the top of your game. But it’s been several years since he was riding high, sporting an undefeated record, and being the pride of the Puerto Rican people. He wants that glory back.
Before running into Antonio Margarito back in 2008, Cotto was seemingly among the elite of the welterweight division. He had racked up impressive wins against the likes of Paul Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, and Alfonso Gomez. Then he got into the ring against Margarito in Las Vegas and came away with his first loss. It was an eleventh round TKO and there were many questions after the fight about Margarito’s hand-wraps. Did he cheat? (The two fought again in late 2011 and this time Cotto scored a tenth round TKO.)
After the loss to Margarito, Cotto went back to work and put together a couple of wins at Madison Square Garden. He appeared to be back on track. That was short-lived. He fought Manny Pacquiao in Vegas in November 2009 and got stopped in the twelfth round. It was another disappointment for him, but he stood proud and fought Yuri Foreman seven months later to win the WBA belt.
He followed with a win against Ricardo Majorga and the rematch defeat of Margarito. Then in May 2012 he found himself up against Floyd Mayweather. He gave a good performance, but came up short. In December 2012, at MSG, he fought Austin Trout and again suffered a loss.
Here we are, ten months later and he is about to fight a taller man who is hungry and would love nothing better than to send Cotto into retirement. Rodriguez, originally from the Dominican Republic, now living in CT, has little to lose. He already has a half-dozen losses on his record and has not faced the level of opponents that Cotto has. But he has a hope. And a prayer. And an underdog’s shot at scoring an upset.
Rodriguez is not a bum. He is not a pug. He comes to win and brings his A-game. But is his best enough to slaughter Cotto? Despite his short stature, Cotto is a heavy-hitter who has stopped three-quarters of the men he beat. Unless he is totally shot after these last two losses, Cotto should stop Rodriguez within nine rounds or at the least, win an easy decision.
I’ll be pulling for Miguel. He’s a good guy and at 32 years of age, he could have a few good fights left in his tank. He needs a big win on Saturday to renew his confidence and get his timing and mojo back. If he does, I’m sure Top Rank will have some nice paydays ahead for him.