NEW YORK– Four-time, three-division titlewinner Miguel Cotto has not lost in nine fights in New York, seven of which have transpired at Madison Square Garden, site of Saturday night’s Showtime-televised clash with unbeaten southpaw WBA junior middleweight titleholder Austin Trout.
Among Cotto’s triumphs in the Big Apple is an 11th-round knockout of left-handed former beltholder Zab Judah in June of 2007.
“Fighting southpaws is not difficult for me. Actually, I’m a converted southpaw. I used to fight southpaw, but converted into an orthodox stance,” said Cotto, 32, during Wednesday’s final press conference at The Garden, where he is 7-0 with four stoppage wins.
“I have already fought many southpaws and didn’t really have any problems with them. I don’t expect to have any problems with Austin either. We had a great training camp with sparring partners with real skills. I think my sparring partners have more skills than Austin. I think they showed me more skills and gave me more problems.”
Cotto (37-3, 30 knockouts) said the most troublesome southpaw he has faced was former titleholder Carlos Quintana, whom he stopped in the fifth round to end a match up of unbeaten fighters in December of 2006.
“The toughest guy I ever fought was Carlos Quintana,” said Cotto, of Caguas, Puerto Rico, referring to left-handers. “He gave me a lot of problems and gave me two very tough rounds.”
But the 27-year-old Trout (25-0, 14 KOs) believes otherwise, having watched videos of Cotto aborbing numerous left-crosses from southpaw former titleholder DeMarcus Corley, whom Cotto dropped in the first round before scoring a fifth-round knockout in February of 2005 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
Trout also pointed out that Cotto defeated Corley as a 140-pounder, and, both Judah and Quintana while competing at 147-pounds.
“Those were great wins, but they weren’t in this same weight class. We’re two weight classes above that [Corley fight,]” said Trout, who stands nearly 5-foot-10 to Cotto’s 5-7.
“Plus, in the Judah fight, he was getting hit with a lot of shots. I feel like I can hit him with a lot of shots, but can he take it at 154 pounds from a real, true southpaw junior middleweight? We’ll see.”
In fact, while calling Cotto-Corley for HBO, the late Hall of Fame trainer, Emanuel “Manny” Steward noted there was “a great left hand coming back by DeMarcus Corley,” adding, “he’s landing a lot of clean punches tonight, and I think if he was about 10 pounds heavier, I think that Cotto would maybe be in trouble.”
Seconds after Steward made his comments, Corley wobbled Cotto with a third-round right hook, forcing Cotto to stumble and hold on. Although Corley couldn’t finish off Cotto, HBO’s Larry Merchant, sitting at ringside, scored the third round in Corley’s favor, 10-8.
“I remember watching the Corley fight, and I remember seeing Corley hurt Cotto, and then go and just touch Cotto to the body whle he had him hurt, I remember Cotto knocking him down and then…,” said Trout.
“Anyway, I think that fight was fixed. Corley was in there, and he hurt him, and he didn’t do nothing about it and then Cotto hurt him, Corley took a knee and he was waiting for the count.”
After watching Corley take a knee for the second time in the final round, referee Ismael Quinones Falu abruptly waved an end to the fight.
“That is a home town stoppage. A disgrace. An absolute disgrace,” said Merchant, with Steward also believe that the stoppage was “too quick.”
“Even if Cotto was coming on, and starting to dominate Corley,” said Merchant, “Corley had shown enough professionalism to weather that particular storm, and a home town referee stopped the fight.”
Cotto became only the fourth man to defeat Corley and the first to stop the native of Washington, D.C., who already had suffered route-going losses, back-to-back, to Judah and Floyd Mayweather Jr. by split- and unanimous decision in July of 2003, and, May of 2004, respectively.
“Corley had him if he wanted him, he just didn’t want him bad enough.”I’m going to have to stand and trade with him, at times, there’s no doubt about it. If I try to fight him tactically the whole way, then they’ll give him tthe rounds on aggression. I’m going to fight my fight. But I know what I’m up against,” said Trout.
“I’m up against the whole Garden. I know that they’ll look for any reason to take it. So, we’re going to have to trade. That’s inevitable. So I will do what it takes. I’m not going to get away from what I do myself, because my style has been working, so I’m not going to compromise me and lose myself to make anybody happy. They’re going to have to deal with me — the full-fledged me.”
TROUT SAYS COTTO’S ‘GOING TO SWELL UP,’ AND, ‘GET CUT UP’
While Trout claims never to have been cut in a fight, Cotto’s face has been battered and beaten bloody, particularly after being dethroned by an 11th-round knockout loss to Antonio Margarito in July of 2008 — the first loss of his career.
Cotto’s nose was broken, he had been knocked down once and taken a knee once, and blood dripped down his face from a deep gash over his left eye by the time the bout ended with Margarito, a loss Cotto avenged with last December’s 10th-round knockout win.
“Cotto’s gotten bloody, and he will be again. He can’t help that. We don’t want to give away too much of the game plan, but he can’t help that he cuts easily. So, we’re definitely going to use that to our advantage, and I feel like the jab will open him up,” said Trout.
“We’ve been working on a nice, sharp jab for all 12 rounds. So he’s going to swell up, and he’s going to get cut up. Will they stop it? That’s going to be on the doctor, but we’re going to try to open him up and work that angle as well. There’s really nothing he can do about that.”
HAROLD LEDERMAN’S TAKE ON COTTO-TROUT
In attendance at Wednesday’s press conference was HBO’s unofficial ringside scorer, Harold Lederman, who provided his take on Cotto-Trout.
“I’m going back and forth. I like Austin Trout he’s a southpaw who is young, aggressive and can fight. I’ve seen him a number of times, and every time, he’s looked good. Delvin Rodriguez gave him a fight, but he still looked pretty good. On the other hand, Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden is something special,” said Lederman.
“I think that the guy just rises to the occasion, and he’s 100 times better in Madison Square Garden than anywhere else. With the big crowd that is expected on Saturday night, if they show up, which the probably will, I’ve got to like Miguel Cotto. I think that it will go the distance, and I like Cotto by decision.”
TROUT, COTTO EACH WANT SAUL ‘CANELO’ ALVAREZ
Trout owns a unanimous decision victory over Rigoburto Alvarez in February of last year for his current belt before Alvarez’s partisan fans at the Arena Colseo in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Trout and trainer, Louie Burke, thought they would get a shot at Canelo Alvarez following a unanimous decision over Delvin Rodriguez in June that had followed a Showtime-televised sixth-round stoppage of Frank LoPorto last November.
But it didn’t happen.
“I just think that they don’t think that they can beat the style that Austin has. Austin has fed off of the Mexican style of fighters since he was 10 years old,” said Burke of Trout, a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
“That was the style that was the predominant style where he’s from. It’s a straight-forward, slugger style. Canelo can box a little bit as well, but he can’t outbox Austin. Quite frankly, Austin would beat him, and that’s why they’re avoiding the situation.”
Trout says he will pursue Alvarez if he defeats Cotto.
“I’ll go and knock on his door with a camera crew and say, ‘you’re going to tell them you’re not going to fight me after I just came to your house?’ I’ve already beat one of his brothers up, and I’ll beat up his daddy if I have to to get him in the ring. I’m talking about Canelo,” said Trout.
“He put out an article the other day that really pissed me off saying that, win or lose, he’s not going to fight me. Well, what are you doing here if that’s thee case? What’s the point of claiming to be the best and tat you want to fight the best. I’m about to fight one of the best, and if I beat one of the best, then that puts me in the position. Unless I missed the equation somewhere, and I’m pretty good at math.”
Cotto also would like a shot at Alvarez, who has requested a return bout for May, 4.
“If I were to fight Canelo next, everyone knows that a fight like that would stir up the great rivalry between Puerto Rican and Mexican fans. It’s an all-time rivalry,” said Cotto.
“They also know what a Mexican fighter and a Puerto Rican fighter can do in the ring too. Austin is my opponent on Saturday night, and once I am done with that fight, I can sit back and look at my options and decide who my next fight will be against.”
JAYSON VELEZ VS. SALVADOR SANCHEZ II
A native of Juncos, Puerto Rico, and a sharp puncher with either hand, Velez, 24, is coming off a sixth-round knockout over Leivi Brea in August. Velez returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time since stopping Jesus Bayron in June of 2009.
Sanchez, 27, is the nephew of the late legendary featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez, and will where his uncle’s trunks, shoes and robe his relative’s final fight — a 15th-round knockout of Azumah Nelson at Madison Square Garden in July of 1982.
“It is an honor for me to fight at Madison Square Garden, 30 years after my great uncle fought here,” said Sanchez II, who has won 11 straight fights, including nine by knockout, having stopped his past two opponents.
“I am so happy to be wearing the clothing that my uncle wore here. Don’t miss this fight. It is going to be one of the better bouts of the night.”
Sanchez’s manager, Elvis Grant Phillips, owner of Grant Gloves, said that the clothing is official, and not a replica, of that worn by the late Salvador Sanchez.
“Salvador will be wearing the actual robe, trunks and shoes that his uncle wore in fight here against Azumah Nelson on July 1 of 1982,” said Phillips. “It’s to honor Salvador, and to dedicate this victory to him.”
COTTO’S EIGHT FIGHTS AT THE GARDEN SELL OVER 100,000 TICKETS
Executive Vice President of Madison Square Garden Sports, Joel Fisher, awarded Cotto a plaque at Wednesday’s press conference celebrating the fact that, counting his upcoming fight with Trout, his bouts at The Garden have sold more than 100,000 tickets.
But Trout vowed to end Cotto’s dominance in The Big Apple.
“I plan on making history,” said Trout. “Not because I made Miguel Cotto a five-time world champion, but because I will be the only person to beat Miguel Cotto in New York.”
MIGUEL COTTO’S FIGHTS IN NEW YORK:
Waklimi Young, UD 4, Hammerstein Ballroom, April 28, 2001
Muhammad Abdulaev, TKO 9, Madison Square Garden, June 11, 2005
Paulie Malignaggi, UD 12, Madison Square Garden, June 10, 2006
Zab Judah, TKO 11, Madison Square Garden, June 9, 2007
Shane Mosley, UD 12, Madison Square Garden, Nov. 10, 2007
Michael Jennings, TKO 5, Madison Square Garden, February 21, 2009
Joshua Clottey, SD 12, Madison Square Garden, June 13, 2009
Yuri Foreman, TKO 9, Yankee Stadium, June 5, 2010
Antonio Margarito, TKO 10, Madison Square Garden, Dec. 3, 2011
Photos by Rich Kane, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photo by Chris Cozzone, Fightwireimages.com
Photos by Rich Kane, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org