COTTO ELITE, BUT NOT GREAT
He’s been one of my favorites since he won his first major title in 2004, Joe, and I’ve had to take a lot of s__t from obnoxious internet-era fanboys over the years because I had no problem stating my appreciation for the stone-faced Boricua.
Cotto wasn’t blessed with the charisma or one-punch KO power that helped make fellow Puerto Rican Felix Trinidad a true icon to the island. He didn’t have world-class speed and athleticism or the kind of flashy ring savvy that would make boxing writers laud him as “unbeatable” or “the next great one” as he was coming up in the ranks. And he proved to be vulnerable, which is a sin in the eyes of too many hardcore fans these days. After being rocked and badly hurt in bouts against DeMarcus Corley and Ricardo Torres, a lot of people thought Cotto was an overhyped Top Rank creation.
Those folks were wrong. Cotto’s for real and he can fight. And I disagree that he lacks what it takes to be a pound-for-pound level fighter because he was one at one time in his career. Although he lacks the kind of dynamic talent that most pound-for-pound entrants possess, he accomplished enough while running his record up to 31-0 (after stopping Zab Judah and outpointing Mosley in 2007) to merit inclusion in the mythical rankings. He cracked THE RING’s P4P list (at No. 10) after beating Zab and he climbed to No. 7 after narrowly besting Mosley (in an extremely underrated fight).
Mayweather and Pacquiao were Nos. 1 and 2 on THE RING’s pound-for-pound list at this time (late 2007 to mid-’08). No shame in falling short to them, but it should be noted that Cotto was not considered a pound-for-pound level fighter when he faced Manny (in late ’09) and Floyd.
There’s no doubt that Pacquiao and Mayweather are the two best of the past decade, but I’m not sure either is “great” or were “pushed to greatness” by Cotto, who wasn’t considered to be an “elite” fighter when he faced them. He was two bouts removed from a bloody brutal (and maybe unfair) stoppage loss to Antonio Margarito when he stepped in the ring with the PacMan (and one of those bouts was punishing 12-round split nod over Josh Clottey). He won three consecutivebouts before facing Mayweather, but his victories were pooh-poohed by many hardcore heads and most of the boxing industry. If you go by what the press and insiders were writing and saying about Cotto prior to Saturday’s fight he was somewhere between spent bullet and a still-serviceable but mentally fragile/spiritually damaged veteran.
I’ve been enjoying your mailbags for a few years now. Finally, decided to write right after a fight instead of waiting a few days later. We were treated to a pretty good night of boxing, right?
I only saw the last few rounds of the Latimore-Quintana fight. Hasn’t Latimore been sparring with Mayweather? Yet Quintana made it look easy. Maybe it’s the southpaw stance. Good win for Quintana.
I was looking forward to the main event, but probably like you I thought the Mosley-Alvarez fight might deliver the most action. Unfortunately, it was just sad to watch. I mean Mosley isn’t even my friend and it was sad for me to watch. I don’t know how his friends (Richardson) and family (his son) can watch him lose a fight so bad. He often looked off-balanced, had poor defense and threw pitty-pat punches. Those jabs to the body just looked pathetic. I hope he made more than enough money to retire comfortably. He gave us some good fights, but it’s time to call it quits.
Although I was disappointed with the outcome, the main event was a good fight. Cotto fought well. I wish he got Mayweather on the ropes more often and threw more. He threw fewer punches than Mayweather and I don’t think you can win a fight vs Floyd if you throw less than him (unless you can connect with Julian Jackson power). I have to give Floyd credit, not just for winning the fight and fighting well, but also for actually being likable. Usually I can’t stand the guy and totally hope to see him get rocked/knocked down/lose a fight but he fought well, no cheap shots or punching on the break, was respectful to Cotto after the match (and it looked genuine) and to the broadcast team. I think if he was like this more often, I’d probably root for him every now and then. Heck, I think if he fought entertaining fights like the one tonight vs guys of Cotto’s caliber more often and acted pleasant like he did after, he wouldn’t have to say stupid s__t or act like jerk to sell his fight or get people interested in his career. Plenty of guys have done well in boxing without having to make people hate them, and like him or dislike him Mayweather is arguably the best boxer in the world today.
How was The Avengers? Keep up the good work. – DVH
Hopefully I’ll find out before I compile this week’s Friday mailbag.
It was refreshing to see Mayweather act like an adult and a professional during and after such a good fight with a worthy opponent, but to be honest, I’d give him a pass for acting like jerk if he had sought out more legitimate challenges over the years. James Toney could be an outrageous a__hole and thug, but he had my respect during his prime and during his late-career resurgence (1999-’05) because he challenged himself and he threw down once the bell rang.
I thought Alvarez-Mosley would be a much closer fight. I based that prediction on the assumption that Mosley would train his 40-year-old ass off and enter the bout with a lot of confidence (which he did) and the fact that Canelo was still largely unproven. Well, Alvarez’s best victories have come against faded vets, but he’s better than most of give him credit for. He’s good athlete with solid technique, underrated versatility, and a warrior’s heart. He’s gonna go far as long as he isn’t rushed into showdowns with the elite (Mayweather) or matched with style nightmares (Lara).
Mosley’s done. His last hurrah was the Margarito fight. He’s made a lot of money since his last victory. Now it’s time to hang ‘em up.
Quintana’s KO of Latimore did not surprise me one bit. The difference in skill and experience was too great.
THE FIGHT IN GERMANY
You’re probably inundated with emails about the Mayweather/Cotto fight, so I’d like to share my thoughts on the big fight in Germany Saturday, Huck/Afolabi.
Both men fought with heart, courage, & determination. I don’t disparage any man or woman that gets in the ring to earn a living. My disappointment comes from the lack of skills and basic fundamentals on display for this to be a championship-level fight.
Afolabi pushes his jab and constantly brings his left guard back low. His chin is never tucked. I could have sworn he had a Post-It note stuck on his jaw that read, “Please hit me.”
I understand why Huck is a crowd favorite. He always gives 100%. The way he loads up with his right, it’s obvious he puts every ounce of his bodyweight into that punch. Everyone watching the fight could see it coming, they started to cheer before it landed.
Both men were throwing fierce, but wild punches. As a result, they were leaning on each other and breathing hard after four rounds. After heaving wide, lunging hooks, one fighter would spin 180˚ and have his back to the other.
One of your contributors called the 12thround “a sure-fire candidate for round of the year.” I saw three minutes that looked like two drunken guys swinging at each other outside a Berlin bar at 4 in the morning.
This was a fight between The Ring’s 1stand 5thrated cruiserweight. I hate to say it, but it’s very plausible that Antonio Tarver can unify the titles, even at age 43.
Let me know your thoughts, maybe I’m being too critical. Auf weidersehen. – TJ
You sound like my favorite comic book character, Nightcrawler. The fuzzy blue elf from Germany would occasionally say “Auf weidersehen” before he teleported out of trouble with his customary “Bamf!”
You probably have no idea what I’m talking about. However, I know exactly what you are talking about in regard to the Huck-Afolabi fight even though I haven’t watched the fight yet.
You are being critical Huck and Afolabi but you’re also stating the truth. Huck is an excellent athlete and Afolabi is a tremendous talent. Both have the heart of a lion but they’re also very sloppy. They lack technique, polish, finesse.
There’s a reason. Huck’s started out as a kick boxer, participating in amateur bouts as a kid before moving up to full-contact pro kickboxing as a rough-and-tumble teen. He also briefly participated in amateur boxing, but his foundation is kickboxing, which helps to make for an awkward boxing style. (This is the reason Vitali Klitschko, who also participated in kickboxing during his amateur days, has never appeared as technically fluid as his younger brother, who focused on boxing as a youth.)
Afolabi got a late start to boxing and didn’t have a strong team (trainer, manager and promoter) behind him until late into his pro career. He moved from the UK to the U.S. to turn pro but he didn’t have enough of a name to get signed by any major promoter, so he wasn’t developed the way most young prospects are. He took whatever fight he could get on club shows while he learned his craft at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif. Afolabi basically trained himself. He learned the pro moves by serving as a sparring partner for boxing masters, such as James Toney. But without a full-time trainer to go over his technique he was bound to cultivate some bad habits.
So there you have it. I know Ola, and I know he’s a smart guy. He might be past his athletic prime at age 32, but I’d still like to see if Fritz Sdunek (who trained him for the Huck rematch) can improve his technique with a few more camps.
In the meantime, I think you’re right about Tarver having the ability to unify cruiserweight title despite being 43 years old.
COTTO EARNED RESPECT
I just got home from watching the fight — it was the best fight I’ve seen Money in since the Castillo fight. I saw it 116-112 Money (I don’t know what the judge who saw it 118-110 was on; but I want some, since he must’ve been tripping quite a bit). I saw it with a couple of knowledgeable fans and while no one doubted that Money pulled it off, everybody was put off by the ridiculous card. Cotto has nothing to be ashamed off. He fought an excellent fight; he could have used the jab more, and squared down a bit less, but I doubt that would have changed the outcome. But he was in it and made Money bite down and fight back…. I think this fight does a lot for his reputation and I hope the press begins to give his skills their just due. The man can box and fight.
All in all, a very good fight (I wished I had put the audio on mute though, since the broadcast was insufferable at times.) As always, I look forward to read what you’ve got to say on the fight.
(p.s. Manny Steward’s ego got a bit in the way in the interviews leading to the fight and in his last comments during the broadcast. Don’t you think? In a way, Cotto was more impressive tonight than in his two fights with the Kronk wizard. It’s amazing how in boxing humbleness and grace are in short supply, which is why guys like Cotto stand out…) Best. – Y.
I didn’t notice Steward disrespecting Cotto at the end of the broadcast but I was working to help update the website immediately after the main event, so I wasn’t really paying attention. I thought he was fair and even-handed in his analysis of the matchup leading into the fight.
Like you (and most observers, including Michael Rosenthal, Steve Kim and Max Kellerman), I scored four rounds for Cotto. I can understand people’s 115-113 and 117-111 scorecards for Mayweather but 118-110 seemed like slap in Cotto’s face (and that’s how the proud Puerto Rican took it).
Robert Hoyle’s 118-110 scorecard (along with Glen Hamada’s 119-109 tally in the Judah fight and all three scorecards in the first Castillo bout) tells me that if a boxer faces Mayweather in Las Vegas (which is the only place he’ll fight) and DOESN’T plan to win by KO, he better be sure to CLEARLY win at least nine rounds if he hopes to squeak by narrow decision.
Photos / Naoki Fukuda
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