By Erwin Lastimosa
Going into last Saturday nights fight between Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto, many people doubted if Cotto had anything left in the tank because his last outings were wars, he lost to Antonio Margarito by a vicious beating, he squeaked out a decision in another tough fight against Joshua Clottey, and he was beat down by Manny Pacquiao.
I thought the speed and footwork of Yuri Foreman would present problems for Cotto but I was wrong, Cotto looked great in the fight from the first round Cotto appeared the more powerful of the two, he was rocking Foreman and catching him with the stiff jab and Foreman respected Cotto’s power. Miguel was going up in weight to 154 a weight he never fought at and Foreman looked to have the size advantage over Cotto because he looked so much taller than Cotto. On fight night Cotto may have been shorter but he was stockier and more solid, size advantage doesn’t always mean height, it’s also bone structure and build, Cotto is built like David Tua and Mike Tyson short, stocky and solid while Yuri Foreman is more narrow and fragile with few knockouts to his records.
During the fight Miguel was looking fresh like the Cotto of old, he was fighting smart, using his jab and cutting off the ring against the speedster Foreman. What was clear to me was Miguel Cotto wasn’t a shot fighter, he could still pull the trigger and still had that fighting spirit despite his father Miguel Sr. passing away and hiring on a new trainer in Emanuel Steward. Usually when a fighter is shot or ruined they no longer have the ability to move well or pull the trigger, Cotto not only moved well but he was picking his shots well.
It dawned on me that if you look through Cotto’s history the only fighters who gave him trouble or beat him were guys who pressured him and took his best punches. If you can take Cotto’s best punches and move forward while throwing punches back he will cower or get on his bicycle.
Shane Mosley was able to press Cotto, this was the first time I really noticed Cotto going on his bicycle and he did this after he knew he couldn’t hurt Mosley early, Mosley just kept coming forward with no regard for Cotto’s power, and Miguel got on his bicycle and coasted to a decision victory.
Cotto did the same against Antonio Margarito. Cotto came out guns blazing and was attacking Margarito early and trying to get the tall Mexican pressure fighter to respect his power but Margarito just kept coming forward eating punches just to dish out his own. Eventually, Cotto realized he couldn’t intimidate Margarito so he backed away, starting getting on his bike and was getting punched so much he had no choice but to take a knee and quit.
When Miguel Cotto fought Joshua Clottey it was the same thing again. Started out strong dropping Clottey with a jab in the first round and the moment Clottey didn’t respect Cotto’s punches and started moving forward, Cotto starting going on his bicycle throwing combos than backing away. Clottey has a low work rate and if he was more aggressive he could have stopped Cotto but instead lost a close decision to Cotto.
Manny Pacquiao came into the fight the smaller man and Miguel Cotto probably felt he could use his intimidating tactics of pressing the smaller guy like he did to so many other 140 pound fighters in the past, making them bow out but Manny Pacquiao is a special little guy, his balls are the size of watermelons. Pacquiao started early getting caught with Cotto’s jab and Cotto in the early rounds tried to bully Pacquiao only to get dropped in the third round and the fourth round, from there on Pacquiao never backed down from Cotto and if Cotto tried to throw some power combos Pacquiao ate them and went forward with his own combination. Pacquiao even invited Cotto to hit him with free punches, this broke Cotto’s will because Cotto just hit this smaller guy with his heaviest punches but they did nothing. Cotto went on his bicycle against Manny and was running away from the former flyweight like he was fighting an indestructible force and lost.
This is why people shouldn’t count Miguel Cotto out because styles make fights. This is the reason why so many boxing fans felt he would match up well against Floyd Mayweather Jr., because Cotto knows how to fight runners, he can fight movers like nobody else can but he can’t fight pressure fighters at all, that’s Cotto’s weakness. Cotto is the typical schoolyard bully, if you are scared of his power he will break you down, if you fight back he will back away, it was similar to Mike Tyson who relied on intimidating his opponent with power and if you stood up to his power and early onslaught he lost his confidence and wilted.
The challenge for trainer Emanuel Steward is teaching Miguel Cotto how to fight pressure fighters but put Cotto in with any slick fighter I would favor Cotto.
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Erwin Lastimosa is a long time boxing fan and enjoys boxing discussion with his peers. Some of his favorite fighters are Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Muhammad Ali, Flash Elorde, Mike Tyson and Manny Pacquiao.