Cotto’s Rebirth?

By Jarrett Zook on August 11, 2014
Cotto’s Rebirth?
There are many winnable legacy enhancing fights out there for Miguel Cotto. (cycyr.com)

While he may not have faced a prime middleweight champion, most of today’s middleweights have not faced a fighter like Miguel Cotto…

Many in the boxing community had written off Miguel Cotto after he was thoroughly outboxed by Austin Trout on the night of December 1, 2012. There was certainly a lot of evidence to support this opinion as Cotto appeared to be past his prime. He was a rough 32 and had been in many grueling wars. Furthermore, the Puerto Rican star had not burned as bright since being beaten down by the infamous cheater Antonio Margarito in July of 2008. After the Margarito defeat, Cotto went against the game’s best and fell short, losing to Pacquiao and Mayweather. That is not to say that he did not have his moments, and Cotto beat many good fighters between 2008 and 2012. The problem was for much of his career he was seen as possibly becoming the best fighter in the sport. Accordingly, high expectations were placed on him. Losing to an unheralded boxer like Trout was a step down from the likes of Pacman and Money. It seemed like Cotto no longer had the ability to further enhance his legacy. As he had already made a pile of money and could likely no longer defeat top tier opposition, it therefore seemed like a good time to step away from the ring.

Cotto briefly contemplated retirement, but apparently he’s as determined out of the ring as in it and a couple of months after the Trout defeat he was determined to make a comeback. However, the brawling Puerto Rican knew that he needed to shake things up and try something new if he was to rise to the top of the sport again. Thus, Miguel surprised Freddie Roach when he called and asked the legendary trainer to help him regain his old form. Roach stated that Cotto “looked terrible” and “was completely shocked” by his performance against Trout. Nevertheless, Roach decided to give the onetime Puerto Rican sensation a shot and the two seemed to click very well. In fact, Roach was certain of Cotto’s turnaround and said, “Where he is now compared to the day he started is really amazing.” 

Before Cotto stepped in with a big name he would need to test himself against a worthy, but not overly skilled, opponent. Delvin Rodriguez was a decent contender who fit the bill and thus would be Cotto’s first opponent under Roach’s tutelage. Many expected that Miguel would defeat Rodriguez, but few thought that he would tear through the usually durable fighter. From the opening seconds Cotto was all over his opponent. Before the bell could sound to end the third round he had triumphantly ended the bout. Immediately after the Rodriguez destruction, experts began speculating on Cotto’s next move. The most popular possibilities seemed to be a Mayweather rematch or a tilt with rising star Canelo Alvarez. However, Cotto surprised the pundits and instead decided to jump to middleweight and take on the long reigning champ, Sergio Martinez.

Cotto’s decision may have taken the boxing community by surprise, but the decision made perfect sense to him. The Puerto Rican star wanted to create history and become the first person from his boxing-crazy island to become a titleholder in four weight classes. While the decision was admirable, facing Martinez seemed to be a very daunting and improbable task for Cotto. At junior middleweight he had lost against the division’s best. Therefore, what chance could he be expected to have against the best in a bigger division? If that wasn’t enough he had been severely outboxed in his loss to Trout and Martinez’s greatest strength is his boxing ability. Cotto, though, remained confident and felt that in Roach he found “the Pippen to his Jordan.” His confidence seemed well-founded once the fight started and in the first round he managed to floor Martinez three times. Cotto continued to keep the pressure on for the duration of the fight and managed to floor Maravilla once more in the ninth round. After the ninth round ended, Martinez had decided enough was enough and surrendered his crown while sitting on his stool. Cotto defied expectations and captured a title in his fourth weight class in convincing and destructive fashion.

Cotto’s victory over Martinez garnered him tremendous praise throughout the boxing community. Cotto does certainly look more explosive and overall much better than he had since his last loss, but it is somewhat problematic to see him as being completely re-emergent. The Martinez he faced was undeniably very faded. He had an awful right knee which required surgery to fix, thus causing a fourteen-month layoff. Ring rust is tough for any fighter to shake off, but it is even worse when an athlete is 39, like Martinez was when he faced Cotto. Moreover, Martinez had not looked as sharp in his fights preceding Cotto and it was seen as being a mere matter of time before he was finally knocked off. Lastly, even though Martinez insisted he was healthy enough to take the bout, it became apparent to anyone watching that he was still suffering. His balance, which is normally outstanding, was terrible and every time he took a Cotto punch he seemed to stagger. At the end of the fight, his trainer could see Martinez wasn’t himself and threw in the towel. “Your knees are not working champion,” he said. “They are not working. It is my responsibility champion, they are not working.”

Cotto may not have beaten a fully healthy Martinez, but he does look better than he did before being united with Roach. Cotto looks aggressive and explosive, which is what worked best for him when he was at his peak. After his loss to Pacquiao he became more of a boxer and won some fights, but it felt as if he was winning in spite of his style and not because of it. Roach has made some adjustments in his style and his last two victories have been much more definitive then the three in-between his Pacquiao and Mayweather fights. Specifically, Roach has worked on “Cutting the ring off, controlling the ring, again, keeping himself in good position, not putting yourself on the ropes.” As Cotto seems to be a resurgent and dangerous fighter, there are now many winnable legacy enhancing fights out there for him to take.

While Cotto may not have faced a prime middleweight champion, most of today’s middleweights have not faced a fighter like Cotto. Most middleweight contenders would be destroyed by Cotto and there are only a few who stand a chance. Golovkin and Quillin are two names that certainly stand out and both of them would be worthy opponents. Quillin poses an interesting challenge for Cotto, as he is rangy and possesses good boxing skills. However, he has never had his chin tested or faced a great opponent near his prime. Consequently, there would be quite an amount of intrigue and speculation heading into that fight. Unfortunately, Quillin still carries too little name recognition and not enough drawing power to reward the risk. Golovkin like Quillin will also likely not be Cotto’s next opponent. He is simply too much of a risk for Cotto, Golovkin is a versatile fighter who at this stage in his career has been able to do whatever he wants. GGG throws blinding combinations and has won his last 17 fights by way of knockout. While Cotto is also a power puncher, he is simply just too much smaller than Golovkin for anyone to give him much of a chance. Furthermore, Golovkin is starting to build a fanbase, but a GGG fight will not command the kind of money that Cotto would want to face such a monster.

Only one of Cotto’s next possible opponents is actually in the division in which he holds a title. That person sadly enough is Andy Lee. As of very recently, his name has been tossed around various blogs and boxing websites as being a likely opponent for Cotto. Lee has been exposed against much lesser fighters than Cotto and isn’t especially durable, so it would be surprising to see him go the full twelve. No pugilist fights the greats every time out, but Lee is barely a fringe contender. If this fight is to occur, it begs the question why? The answer of course is that this fight will serve as a warm-up for a future Cotto matchup with the aforementioned Alvarez or Mayweather. That’s right, the very fighters that he was seen as possibly fighting after destroying Delvin Rodriguez. However, now that Cotto is a middleweight champion, he has put himself in a much better position against either fighter. He can now force Mayweather to move up yet another weight class. Cotto already gave Money one of his toughest fights and everyone knows Floyd would love to add another belt to his résumé. Floyd, like most humans, is scared of Golovkin. Quillin is not nearly a name enough opponent considering that he would provide some risk. While Mayweather has already defeated Cotto, a middleweight fight gives Miguel even more of a size advantage, one that perhaps would be too great for Mayweather to overcome. Alvarez, like Mayweather, would be forced to come up in weight. While Alvarez may be decently suited to move up in weight, it would still be an adjustment he’d have to make in a title fight against a very good opponent. Alvarez has also never faced a highly skilled opponent who fights with a brawling style that is very similar to his own. How would he hold up against the confident, Roach-trained Cotto? Unfortunately, we may not know how Cotto will fare against a challenging opponent for some time, if he faces Lee. The Lee fight is not at all written in stone thankfully and Cotto can always skip that fight and look towards possibly building onto his legacy.

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2008-07-26 Antonio Margarito vs Miguel Cotto I



36 2009 11 14 Manny Pacquiao



Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto- Full Length Fight #FWE



1-12-2012 WBA Miguel Cotto vs Austin Trout Full Fight



Boxing Miguel Cotto vs Sergio Martinez 7th June 2014



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  1. Dave Van Deusen 08:28pm, 08/15/2014

    Lee, on a good night, should not be counted out against Cotto. At 6’2’‘, with power, and boxing ability, his loss if far from a given.  Keep in mind when he fought JCC Jr, Jr probably entered the ring as a cruiserweight.  And even when is was stopped by TKO, he never it the canvas.  And the second Vera fight showed that when he is focused he is a skilled boxer. As for power, look at Daniels, Mccuin, and Jackson fights. Compare that to the fact that Cotto, really, is a welterweight who got destroyed in the fist vs Margareto. More recently he looked awesome against Martinez, I give you that. But how much of that is akin to how Trevor Berbick looked against Ali in 81’? End of the day, the bookies will have Cotto as the 10-1 favorite.  At those odds putting $100 on Lee would be a very good bet.

  2. Pete The Sneak 04:50am, 08/13/2014

    @Rolling Thunder…Yes, your memory does serve you right, as I too remember Larry asking that rhetorical question about Cotto ever being great again after the Pac fight…and I do agree that may very well never happen again…However, as long as Cotto stays away from GGG, he only needs to be good in his next few fights to be successful. Heck, in some cases he may only have to be halfway decent…Then, when all is said and done, you can then take Cotto’s entire body of work in his career, weigh it out, and decide on whether or not he was ‘great.’ He’s a sure fire Hall of Famer, however I’ll leave his ‘greatness’ status up to those who are more knowledgeable in deducing and either bestowing greatness, or repudiating it. Either way, Whichever way you slice it, the man has done pretty good for himself…Peace.

  3. Rolling Thunder 01:39pm, 08/12/2014

    If memory serves me right, Larry Merchant asked the (rhetorical?) question at the end of Pacquiao-Cotto: “Will Cotto ever be great again?”

    I don’t think so.

  4. Degar 09:29am, 08/12/2014

    Cotto/Alvarez would be a good scrap!

  5. Steven 09:18am, 08/12/2014

    How soon we forget the absolute beating a welter put on him and then the thrashing a JMW handed him. There is NO rebirth. He and his trainer just took on a paraplegic that because of pride took a fight he should have canceled for his health’s sake. And now REBORN BRAVE WARRIOR COTTO won’t be seen in the same country as GGG at 160. Hmm…..some rebirth.

  6. Eric 07:21am, 08/12/2014

    @Pete The Sneak… Agree. A Canelo vs Cotto fight would put butts in the seats, especially given it would be yet another Mexico vs. Puerto Rico clash. Rich, rich history, and an appealing match. GGG would destroy Cotto, as you said.

  7. Koolz 06:23am, 08/12/2014

    Aren’t they doing the Canelo Fight in the spring of 2015.
    I actually never see Cotto fighting Golovkin.  That fight would last three rounds with Roach freaking out!  I heard he was freaking out at the Geale fight.  His only hope of it maybe lasting five rounds is GGG at 154, nope sorry it would still end in 3 rounds.
    I don’t see Cotto as a real Middle weight.  Your a middle weight and you have to fight at 154?

  8. Pete The Sneak 05:23am, 08/12/2014

    Cotto, like FMJ, is only looking for fights that make sense. As in dolars and cents…Not sure why, at this point, he would be looking to fight an Andy Lee, who is not a world beater, but is a tough legitimate fighter who can give Cotto some trouble. Why take a chance?...I still say the best and next fight for Cotto (forget GGG, no chance in hell) is Canelo, who hasn’t exactly looked super dominant in his past few fights. The Mexico/Puerto Rco rivalry, along with their popularity and huge fan bases would make this a mega fight for both and they would rake in some serious bucks, gauranteed…Peace

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