WBA junior middleweight titleholder Miguel Cotto’s impressive resume includes wins over ex-world beltholders Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey, Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga — the last three by knockout.
In addition, Cotto, 31, is coming off December’s 10th-round stoppage of Antonio Margarito at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which avenged his 11th-round knockout loss — the first of Cotto’s career — in July of 2008.
The Margarito win was the third straight stoppage for Cotto (37-2, 30 knockouts) since being dethroned as WBO welterweight beltholder by Manny Pacquiao in November of 2009.
“I never asked for anybody. I just sit and wait for what boxing can bring me. And I try to put on the best performance,” said Cotto. “When I retire, I will be proud, because I never faced C-class opponents. I always wanted to face the elite.”
But as the Puerto Rican icon enters what could be his most difficult challenge — the fourth defense of his crown against seven-time, five-division titlewiner, Floyd Mayweather Jr. — (42-0, 26 KOs) he still is answering questions about his vulnerability.
Much of that stems from his bloody wars against Margarito, Clottey and Pacquiao, the first of which left Cotto’s face a battered crimson mask.
Against Margarito, Cotto’s nose was broken, he had been knocked down once and taken a knee once, and blood flowed freely down his face from a deep gash over his left eye.
Although illegal plaster was found in Margarito’s hand wrappings and removed prior to his ninth-round knockout loss to Mosley in his next fight in January of 2009, allegations linger over whether or not he had similar “enhancements” when he faced Cotto.
Cotto admitted to having a fractured mental pysche in the aftermath of his loss to Margarito, but that his pride was restored when he gained his revenge in December.
“After that first fight with Margarito, he took some things from me — my confidence in myself. When I beat him in December, those things came back to me. I feel better right now,” said Cotto.
“You guys noticed after the Margarito fight that I didn’t look like the loser that I used to look like. A different Miguel Cotto came to fight. I feel myself this is going to be a new Miguel Cotto, a Miguel Cotto who was there from the beginning, who likes to fight, who likes to move, who likes to do everything to win the fight.”
Cotto and Mayweather will enter the third day of a three-city press tour on Thursday in Los Angeles, one that followed stops in San Juan on Monday, and New York on Tuesday.
Mayweather, for his part, has dismissed Cotto’s losses to Margarito and Pacquiao, owing to the handwraps scandal and the fact that Cotto fought Pacquiao at a what he believes was a strength-sapping 145-pound catchweight.
“You have a guy in Miguel Cotto, he has two losses. But one of his losses was from him fighting a guy at a catchweight where he wasn’t 100 percent. And you got another guy that he faced who got in trouble for cheating in the sport. So I look at it like I’m going in here facing a guy that’s undefeated,” said Mayweather.
“He’s solid, he’s strong, and he’s the king at 154. And I’m the pound-for-pound king in the sport of boxing until somebody proves me otherwise. The pedigree and the background of Puerto Rican boxing is truly amazing. My thing is that I come from a fighting family, and he comes from Puerto Rico, where they love boxing. So when you bring the two fighters together, you’re going to get nothing but excitement.”
Some of Cotto’s renewed confidence stems from the presence of his new trainer, Pedro Diaz, a PHD in Pedagogical Sciences and an ex-university professor in sports science who replaced Manny Steward for the Margarito fight.
“I’ve known him since 1996, and him being here helped me for the last fight,” said Cotto. “I know that he’s going to bring good things and make me better and better.”
Cotto sees an advantage over Mayweather with his size, said that he will not sacrifice speed against his unbeaten foe, and that he hopes to negate’s Mayweather’s speed “the same way I handled Shane Mosley a few years ago.”
“My advantage is the weight class –154 is my weight. Power is going to be on my side. But I have to put other things like speed and movement on the upper level for this fight. People said he had that advantage over me. His speed is the same,” said Cotto.
“We want to work on everything, pressure, movement…This is going to be that kind of fight, like the fight with Mosley. I’m going to have in front of me, Floyd Mayweather, the biggest boxer in our sport right now. I’m going to train for that kind of fight, like when I trained for the Mosley fight. This one [Mayweather] is the challenge right now.”
Photo by Jeff Fusco – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org