Miguel Cotto, the Stuff of Legend

By Joshua Broom on August 26, 2015
Miguel Cotto, the Stuff of Legend
Cotto steps into the ring against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez as a venerable legend of the sport.

Grizzled ring warrior Miguel Cotto, now 34, has painfully and skillfully carved out a gladiator’s legacy in the sport of kings…

Heading into his remarkable 24th career world title fight against celebrated Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (45-1-1 32 KO), set to take place November 21st at the storied Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, grizzled ring warrior Miguel Cotto, now 34, has painfully and skillfully carved out a gladiator’s legacy in the sport of kings.

Cotto, who after a long and successful amateur career that saw the vicious left hooker earn a spot on the 2000 Puerto Rican Olympic National team among many other lofty accolades, opted to join the paid ranks in early 2001.

And so it was on February 23, 2001, that one of Puerto Rico’s finest prizefighting careers of all time was born, as the now record setting four-division champion made his then-humble debut, blasting out the also debuting Jason Doucet in just the first round of a scheduled four- round fight held at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

It didn’t take long for Cotto to amass a rabid fan base, victories and knockouts as a professional pugilist. Nor did it take long for the young Cotto to jump into deep waters as a highly regarded, fresh prospect against the likes of former titlists and top contenders such as Justin Juuko, John Brown, Cesar Bazan, Rocky Martinez, Demetrius Ceballos, Carlos Maussa, Victoriano Sosa, and Lovemore N’Dou.

With the exception of the slick and wily campaigner Brown and the future IBF titlist N’Dou, Cotto blasted through this impressive array of litmus testing foes via TKO or knockout to earn his first world title shot against the undefeated and highly touted young kayo artist Kelson Pinto in September of 2004.

Entering into their 2004 super lightweight title bout, Cotto and Pinto, both former Olympians, were thought to be on an even playing field in a true pick ‘em affair. However, the soft-spoken yet hard-hitting Cotto showed his superior class in a decisive 6th round stoppage over Pinto to claim his first world championship as a professional.

After this annihilation and championship grab Cotto would not look back. He would go on to defend his newly won crown via stoppage against his next five opponents (even avenging a 2000 Olympic games loss to eventual Gold Medalist Muhammad Abdullaev by 9th round TKO in the process) before meeting and defeating the then-unbeaten, future two-time world champion Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi by way of a 12-round decision in 2006 for his first big win as champion.

In his very next contest, Cotto would defeat future Paul Williams conqueror Carlos Quintana for the coveted 147-pound WBA championship to become a two-division champion. The now confident Cotto would go on to defend his WBA welterweight crown four times, besting the likes of former lineal titlists Zab Judah and future Hall of Famer Shane Mosley along the way to becoming a top pound-for-pound star in the sport.

With his unbeaten run as champion now firmly intact the surging Cotto would be defined as much by what would befall him next at the alleged underhanded tactics suffered at the purportedly loaded gloves of Antonio Margarito in the brutal 11th round defeat in their highly controversial July 2008 showdown as any fight in his career. It was a loss that seemingly stunned Cotto and took the wind out of his once soaring sails.

Though Cotto would once again claim a welterweight title after his controversial and brutal stoppage loss to Margarito, he would struggle mightily in a disputed win over Joshua Clottey in early 2009 before being utterly dismantled by Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao at the end of that year.

However, after the sustained beating suffered at the hands of Pacquiao that had many calling for the proud Puerto Rican champion to retire, Cotto would rebound valiantly to go on to capture a world title in a third weight class. This time Cotto bested WBA 154-pound champion Yuri Foreman in 2010 for the honors. In his next fight the newly minted three-division titlist would go on to stop the wild swinging, former lineal welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga in the 12th round of their 2011 title tilt en route to setting up a much hyped, revenge-laden showdown with bitter rival Antonio Margarito in late 2011.

The tension surrounding the Cotto and Margarito camps heading into their December 2011 rematch was palpable and thickly laden with professional and personal hatred and animosity toward one another. Cotto had claimed that Margarito cheated in their first encounter by loading his hand-wraps, a claim that was substantiated prior to Margarito’s brutal 2009 knockout loss to Shane Mosley.

Margarito was coming into his grudge match with Cotto fresh off his own drubbing sustained at the hands of Manny Pacquiao. The atmosphere was absolutely electric in Madison Square Garden when Miguel Cotto delighted his Puerto Rican contingent in attendance by punishing and stopping Antonio Margarito over the course of nine one-sided rounds to retain his 155-pound title and exact the sweetest revenge in the most satisfying victory of his career.

After the dizzying high of his triumph over Margarito, Cotto, now on the wrong side of 30, earned a mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather in 2012. In a nip and tuck contest in which Cotto continuously stalked Floyd, yet often as not hit air, Cotto won a few rounds on the judges’ scorecards in a respectable 12-round unanimous decision defeat to the best in the world.

Though Cotto lost a competitive tactical battle to Floyd, it was his lethargic and uninspired defeat at the hands of former 154-pound champion Austin Trout in front of his Garden faithful in 2012 that once again had many Cotto fans begging their man to hang up the gloves for good.

It was with much introspection and thoughtful self-dialogue in his time away from the sport throughout much of 2013 that Cotto decided a total career rejuvenation was in order. Cotto’s brilliant decision to bring in Freddie Roach as his trainer paid off in spades immediately as Cotto quickly and effortlessly blasted out contender Delvin Rodriguez in late 2013 under Roach’s charge, thus setting himself up with a historic date with destiny.

The dramatic resurrection of Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto’s career was made complete and final on the night of June 8, 2014 as he seamlessly picked apart the proud longtime middleweight champion Sergio Martinez to become the only man from his proud pugilistic country to lay claim to being a four-division champion.

Cotto further cemented his legacy in the sport in May of this year via a sound destruction of former unified middleweight champion Daniel Geale by way of a two-fisted, power-punching showcase.

So come November 21st, Miguel Cotto steps into the ring with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as a venerable legend of the sport. But, something more than a legend, Cotto has come to epitomize what it truly means to be a champion in the sport of kings in a memorable, determined run from 140 to 160 pounds over the span of a decade.

Miguel Cotto’s perseverance and reaction to adversity combined with his sheer class in and out of the ring have made for one of the most entertaining and finest stories ever written in the annals of the sweet science.

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  1. Joe Masterle 05:39am, 08/28/2015

    Hey, when the guy does decide to hang ‘em up, he could always work as the tattooed guy on the State Fair midway.

  2. The Tache 10:53am, 08/27/2015

    Cotto is an easy future HOF entry and one of my favourites of the past decade. Just a shame about the catchweights recently, think he should have moved back down after winning the title.
    Much rather watch a Cotto fight than a Mayweather one, regardless of if he wins or not.

  3. AkT 07:39am, 08/27/2015

    A bit of a skewed view Andrew, no? Cotto gave Mayweather his hardest fight to date - thanks to his underrated craftiness. He got the courage to step back in the ring to fight a man who made him bend a knee. Margarito didn’t just beat him; he took his soul that night. That takes a lot.

    Credit where it’s due. Peace.

  4. andrew 05:19pm, 08/26/2015

    Stopped by Pactoid, dominated by Gayweather and beaten by Trout. Idolized for vanquishing a 40 year old shot and crippled Martinez.

  5. Jason 03:05pm, 08/26/2015

    Great article! I’m a longtime Cotto fan. Reading this brought. Ack nostalgic memories.

  6. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:42am, 08/26/2015

    If Cotto wins here he should get Floyd for number 50 because there’s gonna’ be a number 50, you can bet your ass on that.

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