Boxing

'Call Em Out Fridays': Miguel Cotto - On A Winning Trail, or Destined To Fail?

Miguel Cotto09.01.09 - By Vivek Wallace: In this weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment we take a look at a fighter who many once saw as the ruler for many years to come in the sports most loaded division. After starting out with a blaze of glory, last year we saw Miguel Cotto run out of answers in an epic battle for the ages against stablemate Antonio Margarito. As he prepares for his return to the ring, roughly a month away, we take a look at the odds of him climbing back to the top. Like any other 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment, we take an in-depth look at all perspectives to bring things full circle. The 'Supportive' perspective, the 'Critics' perspective, and tying up the loose ends, a more 'Neutral' perspective....

Miguel Cotto - (Supportive Perspective): In a division that boast some of the biggest names in the sport, Miguel Cotto has continued to be seen as not only one of the most talented figures, but despite the recent misfortune, potentially the best available figure as well.. As he entered the seen back in 2001, it was very clear from the onset that Cotto not only possessed great power, but was arguably one of the best 'bodysnatchers' in the fight game today. His relentless approach was not only successful, but easily made him a fan favorite amongst many fight fans, and his will to win gave him the jagged edge necessary to bring it all together. As he climbed the ranks of the jr. welterweight division under the steady eye of promoter Bob Arum (Top Rank), there was a point in which many viewed him as a somewhat guarded fighter who was being fed a moderate dose of talented-but-not-complete contenders. The type who looked good on paper, but wasn't exactly seen as world beaters where it counts. (Fighters in the likes of Carlos Maussa, Victoriano Sosa, and Lovemore N'Dou to name a few). Continuing his dominance as he scaled up the ranks, Cotto would not only grab every strap in sight, but look good doing it, adding Corley, the powerful Ricardo Torres, and Malignaggi to his resume, while also avenging an amatuer loss to Mohamad Abdulaev. With no new challenges to conquer, and after proving himself to be more than just a sheltered champ on the rise, his handlers decided to up the ante, taking the fighter north in weight where he would be tested at a higher level in the welterweight division. Despite a hand full of performances where he was visibly rocked, Cotto was put in position to address whether indeed he had a shaky chin, or instead weakened knees from the rigors of having to make a weight that he no longer belonged at. He would answer those questions in a strong fashion as he immediately took out the biggest names to grace the division in recent years. After zeroing in on the divisions last undisputed champ to date - Zab Judah - he would also take a successful stab at the last man to do damage in the pre-Floyd Mayweather jr. era, Shane Mosley. After earning success in its highest form, many found Cotto to be the 'truth', until someone finally came along that made that notion appear to be a lie......

Miguel Cotto - (Critics Perspective): In the past, Cotto would face opponents who would test individual aspects of his ability, but none with the combined skill and will to test them all simultaneously. Or at least that was until he entered the ring on July 25th, 2008 against Antonio Margarito. He had proven himself against speed (Judah), power (Torres), and veteran intelligence (Mosley), but the question of his biggest critics was whether or not he could he put it all together? It would appear for the early rounds of the fight that Cotto would be well on his way to a sound points victory over the powerful Mexican, but as the rounds flew by, suddenly, it was another aspect of Cotto's fight game that many questioned which seemed to come into play. That aspect was his stamina, as it relates to his ability to endure a grueling 12 round fight in which his opponent had equal or greater will, drive, and power to test his own. As previously stated, Cotto had proven the ability to withstand the pressure of fighters who were able to present these challenges individually, but Margarito was a total package, and his performance proved that. The humbling loss in a fight where Cotto simply ran out of answers against a man who presented many questions shined light on the doubts of nearly all of his doubters. These were the same critics who felt all along that Cotto was a great contender, but not quite ready to withstand the rain of a fighter who he could not intimidate - similar to a Mike Tyson of old. It's hard to say whether that notion is true or not because of his 33 opponents, only one so far fit that mold. If that remains the only one, you would have to question whether or not it's a simple case of Margarito being the one fighter who simply has his number, or whether or not the seemingly loaded welterweight division only has one man capable of enduring the wrath of Cotto? It's hard to rationalize, but to get a better glimpse we take a look at the 'Neutral' perspective which shines light on the very topic....

Miguel Cotto - (Neutral Perspective): When it all boils down, Miguel Cotto is as good as advertised, but that being said, there's a prototype to break down any and every style in the ring. When you analyze the past of Cotto, you see the many examples of how he has been able to find success on many different levels. He's been stunned and bounced back, he's been floored and bounced back, he's been rocked and bounced back, now we get to see if he can be humbled and beaten then bouce back. The kid has alot of heart and there's no denying that, but for once, against Margarito, he stepped in the ring with a man who was just as hungry who happened to be fueled by the fact that he hadn't received the same level of opportunities to find success. The difference between Cotto and Margarito is the fact that Margarito was believed by most to be the 'truth' (which explains why he never got the same opportunities), while Cotto was more deceptive in the sense that he seemed more beatable, so more fighters were willing to take that gamble, only to find out that he was better than they perceived. I think short of Williams and Margarito, there isn't anyone on the welterweight level that would challenge Cotto with the lone question mark being Joshua Clottey. Cotto is an evolved talent who's only gotten better with every opportunity, and the fact that he came up short against a man few would even agree to face is no belittling issue. The true test for Cotto will come as he prepares to face Jennings. A man that few know about, (to include Cotto), which will be his biggest challenge in and of itself. Jennings, (like Margarito), is a relative unknown who also holds a key height (3 inches) and reach (3 to 4 inch) advantage over Cotto, and also has a consistent punch output that starts with a jab. Some question whether or not Cotto should have taken this fight without a tune-up. Given Cotto's will to win and drive to succeed, I don't question him for taking this fight, but no doubt, I think we can all take this fight to answer questions about him. A win justifies the fan supportive perspective, while a loss to the unknown commodity with decent potential would justify the thoughts of his critics perspective. Until it's all said and done, I think it pays for each of us to remain neutral, as we'll all soon find out.

(NOTE: The 'Left-Hook Lounge' Q&A mailbag is now published on Mondays, not Wednesdays).

(Got questions or feedback?: Contact Vivek Wallace via email at vivexemail@yahoo.com and 954-292-7346, follow his work at 8CountNews and The Examiner, or show some love at Myspace).

Article posted on 09.01.2009



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