Cotto Serves Brutal Notice to the Welterweight Division

By Taj Eubanks, June 10, 2007 - Last night’s highly-anticipated war between Miguel Cotto and Zab Judah was so explosive that it seemed more head-on train collision than welterweight showdown. While Judah (perpetually criticized for a myriad of past misdeeds) gave a good account of himself, it was Cotto who ruled the night..

miguel cottoCotto displayed the dimensions that have endeared him to fans and boxing insiders alike—a sledgehammer body attack, an inability to take a single backwards step, and an apparent indifference to pain. Make no mistake about it, Judah unleashed his own bombs on Cotto last night, but it was not enough.

One thing was resoundingly clear Saturday night: Cotto is for real. His brutal artistry is both exciting and terrifying to watch. Every shot was thrown with bad intentions and Judah’s face bore witness to the destructive trade that Cotto plied. The star of Judah is now (in the opinions of most) in its final descent, while Cotto’s star has gone supernova.

The emergence of Miguel Cotto as the most exciting superstar of the welterweight division has brought a division that is more crowded than the Los Angeles jail system to the boiling point. Futures will be decided in coming weeks as Paul Williams, Antonio Margarito, Kermit Cintron and others seek to place their own stamp of supremacy on the division. “Sugar” Shane Mosley, the elder statesman of the lot, finds himself waiting in the wings for his turn to grapple with these young lions, all of whom are on the road that ultimately leads to the ruler of the division, “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

As the stars line up, Cotto finds himself at the very nexus of their convergence. His proposed fight with Margarito (should he emerge victorious over Paul Williams) is sure to provide more sparks than a welding shop as neither man knows the meaning of retreat. And it can be argued that the winner of this match should be considered the best welterweight in the world, an argument that can only be settled by Mayweather emerging from his self-imposed “retirement” to prove the naysayers wrong.

As for Zab Judah, it now seems that his time has finally run out. His outstanding talent and valiant effort notwithstanding, Judah has now entered a phase of his career in which brutal self-honesty is required. Winless in his last four outings, his deficits now outnumber his positive attributes, the biggest deficiency being his lack of a Plan B when his initial strategy fails. For example, Emmanuel Steward repeatedly commented throughout the fight that Judah was successful with the straight left but that he just needed to throw it with more frequency. Judah got no such advice from his corner, only repeated instructions to throw more punches in combination. While Cotto’s assault had a great deal to do with Judah’s decreased offensive output, his retreat to a defensive shell is classic Judah, true to form since the Baldomir and Mayweather fights. Where Judah goes from here is anyone’s guess.

As for the rest of the division, it is a good time to be a welterweight. It is a great time to be a fan. And with the lay of the land before him, it is a wonderful time to be Miguel Cotto.

Article posted on 11.06.2007

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