By Carlos Young de San Felipe
Only three days away from the much anticipated and highly discussed junior middleweight championship fight between Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto at Yankee stadium in the Bronx New York, it is really going to be an exciting night for the boxing fans of the empire state.
Much of the hype centered on Cotto is the selection of Emanuel Steward as his trainer for this fight. And so the question is, can Emanuel Steward resurrect or perhaps elevate Cotto’s status as an elite fighter and champion as it once was or is he, Cotto, really washed up?
Emanuel Steward has trained and managed some great fighters in his day and the names read like a who’s who in boxing: Thomas Hearns, Hilmer Kenty, Lennox Lewis, James Toney, Evander Holyfield, Prince Naseem Hamed just to name a few and now Miguel Cotto. But does that history translate into anything that Miguel Cotto can use to regenerate and bring back to life the legend that once was perhaps the best Puerto Rican fighter of the past two decades?
There are many in the boxing game today, right now in public and private that whisper and talk about the decline of Miguel Cotto and they point to the beatings he has taken over the recent years. Most of them site the Antonio Margarito fight as the beginning of his decline but I site the 7th round of the Sugar Shane Mosley fight as the beginning of Cotto’s decline. Before the Mosley fight Cotto was known as a fighter that worked the body and slowly over the course of the fight broke down his opponent on the way to a knockout victory. But in the Mosley fight Cotto was actually beaten at his own game. It was Mosley that administered most of the punishment to the body and not Cotto and in the 7th round Cotto took the fight to the ropes and around the ring as he boxed his way to a win over the final rounds.
It was then, in the 7th round of the Shane Mosley fight that Cotto changed into a boxer, jabbing and moving back and forth and no longer wanted to grind out victories with toe to toe exchanges. He then took on Antonio Margarito and instead of coming out trying to establish his presence with body work Cotto moved and Jabbed in the same way he did midway through the Mosley fight. Early on it worked well for him against Margarito, he landed some good jabs and combinations while Margarito did what Shane did, worked the body. Needless to say the boxing did not serve Cotto that night as he was first slowed and then stopped by Antonio.
The point being made is this, Cotto is no longer fierce and no longer feared, the fighting Cotto is now the boxing Cotto and that’s not so bad except that Cotto’s boxing style lacks defense. Even when Cotto was not boxing but brawling and mauling he was getting hit; he always gets hit. Fighters get hit when they don’t have a defense. When Cotto was bigger than the fighters he was fighting the lack of defense meant nothing really because he could take the punching and walk right through it as he did to Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi and Demarcus “Chop Chop” Corley but that changed when he took on Mosley. So, I ask again, can Emanuel Steward resurrect or perhaps elevate Cotto’s status as an elite fighter and champion as it once was or is he, Cotto, really washed up?
It’s a complicated question to answer because the real question is can Cotto develop a defense and not is Cotto washed up. In most cases fighters don’t change who they are when they get into the ring. I site Rickey Hatton when he hired Floyd Mayweather Sr. to train him. Hatton looked great training and hitting those bags in the signature Mayweather way. Hatton bobbed and weaved and looked born again until he got into the ring with Manny Pacquiao and he immediately went back to who he is as a fighter and tried to bully Manny Pacquiao instead of using his new found defensive and offensive training. I’m afraid to say Cotto will do the same.
It’s kind of late in the game for Cotto to develop a defense that’s going to help him win. Obviously he doesn’t know how to be offensive and defensive when plying his craft and he won’t know how to do it on June 5th at Yankee Stadium. It’s lucky for him that he’s fighting someone with the lack of punching power that the division demands of its top champions, but due to the size and weight behind the punches Yuri will throw they will be hard enough to keep Cotto from walking through them and it only gets worse for Miguel if he has to be defensive, Yuri is taller and has a longer reach.
So, No, there is nothing that Emanuel Steward can do to help Cotto win this fight. They simply have not been together long enough.
In my estimation: Cotto + Stewart = Nothing
Yuri Foreman by decision.
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