Test Of Faith': Is The 'Sheltered' Cotto Truly Ready For A 'Super' Zab?

zab judah30.05.07 - By Vivek Wallace: The year of 2007 has been huge for the world of Boxing so far and with a hot summer lineup that appears to have reached a boiling point there seems to be no end in sight. In the spring on May 5th we saw the highly anticipated showdown between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar Dela Hoya. Coming on the heels of that showdown was the HBO double feature with the Pavlik/Miranda slugfest and the methodical Spinks/Taylor scratch-off. Kicking off the summer phase of the lineup is the June 9th epic battle which pairs the undefeated rising Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto (29-0, 24KO's) and the blemished, yet equally talented Zab Judah (34-4, 25KO's).

For the two fighters at center stage in this appropriately dubbed "X-Plosive" showdown, the road to supremacy was nothing short of stellar, yet in hindsight appearance, visibly backwards.

Backwards in the sense that Miguel Cotto is believed to be the more talented between the two, yet he and his management team appear to have sheltered him from some of the bigger names in his respective weight classes. Zab Judah, on the other hand, is believed to be (in the eyes of some) the less talented of the two, yet his resume' proves that he and his management team have the utmost faith in his abilities, pairing him up against the best his respective weight classes have had to offer and practically begging for their services until he got them.

What this says about Zab or doesn't say about Miguel remains to be seen but it certainly underlines the list of mounting questions and speculations as fight night draws closer. Speculations aside, when comparing these two men, it's a bit difficult to decipher intangibles because both men have what the experts view as 'strength -nullifying' factors.

Cotto, (albeit an avid 'body-snatcher' with great power and offensive skill), is in the eyes of most defensively challenged. The great hooks and body shots he can land are unparalleled but it's often his poor defensive footwork and posturing (which occassionally results in a 'chin-check'), that keep the question marks surrounding his name - as evidenced in the DeMarcus Corley and Ricardo Torres fights. Zab, on the other hand, is much quicker and has the superior footwork, but in a very comparable fashion his lack of focus at times makes him subject to a few classic 'chin-check' moments at the hands of those who can catch him as well.

This parallel provides for an interesting plot because trainer-great Roger Mayweather recently told and proved to us all that "power is nothing when you consider the fact that you can't hit what you can't catch". We know that 'speed kills' and 'power thrills' but in the eleventh-hour with all things remaining equal, what happens if Zab isn't truly focused and Cotto still can't catch him? Conventional wisdom says go with the speed factor. The experts say go with the talent factor. The more I analyze this fight, personally, I say go with the 'X' factor. The one in this sport that often reminds us that no one knows exactly which side of either man will show up that night.

We could see the Zab that never arrived against Baldomir or the one that stunned Spinks in his backyard? We could see the Cotto that destroyed most or the one that kissed the deck against Torres and was nearly humbled by Corley? Viewing strengths and weaknesses on paper it appears all equal, but as we've learned, paper burns...and in anticipation, so will we as we countdown the days to this summer sizzler. For both men, questions asked will be questions answered. Stay tuned.

Article posted on 31.05.2007

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