Suspicions that Miguel Cotto was a spent force after crushing physical defeats to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao proved to be greatly exaggerated as the Puerto Rican superstar outclassed Yuri Foreman to win the WBA Super Welterweight title by ninth-round KO. It was an impressive performance by the 29-year-old Cotto who had no problems finding range and scoring with a variety of punches on the taller and fleet-footed Foreman.
Foreman looked uncomfortable in the early rounds as he seemed to sense quickly that Cotto’s skill level and physical strength were a level above anything he had ever competed against. Foreman’s excellent boxing skills and ring generalship did not flow as they typically have in his previous 28 victories. Foreman landed several full-force rights which failed to discourage the relentless future Hall of Famer from Caguas.
As the fight settled into a predictable pattern with Cotto in control, things went haywire in the seventh when Foreman slipped and fell twice apparently caused by Cotto’s pressure and unstable footing from his adidas shoe sole meeting the slick canvas ring advertisements. Shockingly, Foreman limped badly but courageously fought on, at times hopping on one leg to move around the ring. It was an amazing and astonishing show of bravery from Foreman – but an extremely dangerous and frightening one especially for the family and loved ones of Foreman who were seated at ringside.
Cotto appeared slightly confused and hesitant about the bizarre turn of events and shifted his offensive pressure to a lower gear. In the following round – the eighth – a white towel suddenly came flying into the ring, a signal to referee Arthur Mercante Jr. to halt the fight, which he did. Then after a few moments of confusion after the ring filled with officials and team members – and after Cotto warmly embraced and congratulated Foreman for his extraordinary efforts – everyone was sent out of the ring by Mercante Jr. because it was determined that the towel did not come from Foreman’s corner. On top of that, Foreman expressed an intent to continue the match! This was one of the strangest episodes I have ever witnessed in New York City championship boxing. I even looked up to the sky, looking to see if Fan Man and his parachute were going to add to the chaos.
In the ninth round, Foreman’s footwork seemed steadier but Cotto stepped up his relentless pursuit of his third world title. Cotto, who showed very good movement, balance, and variety during the fight, landed a devastating left hook to the ribs of Foreman that ended the fascinating fight.
But it was one of those rare fights where the value of each competitor increased in stature – Cotto is still a pound-for-pound factor who is more than capable of defeating Floyd Mayweather or any other welterweight, perhaps even Pacquiao in a rematch, now that he has the tactical genius of Emanuel Steward in his corner. Foreman showed excellent boxing skills and an even great warrior spirit which will now make him a bigger and more popular attraction that he was previously. It would be no surprise to see Foreman win a second world title in the near future.