Miguel Cotto hits one out of the park at Yankee Stadium

boxingby Geoffrey Ciani: Following his brutal loss at the hands of Antonio Margarito many observers predicted Miguel Cotto would never be the same. When Cotto struggled to squeak by with a close split decision victory against Joshua Clottey it appeared he lost his edge. After that, he suffered a vicious defeat at the hands of Manny Pacquiao where he seemingly suffered even more damage than he had against Margarito. Tonight Miguel Cotto redefined himself as an elite fighter with a sensational victory over WBA junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman.

Since losing to Pacquiao, Cotto made a major change in direction by pairing up with Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward. This switch in trainer proved to be a golden move on the part of Miguel. Under Steward’s guidance, a new Miguel Cotto emerged reminiscent of the outstanding boxer/puncher that once defined him when he was a young prospect climbing the ranks in the 140 pound weight class. Against Foreman, Cotto fought at a much more measured pace than he has in recent years. He was poised, patient, and made good use of his punch selection. Like all of Steward’s protégé’s, a solid jab acted as the foundation for everything, and this was apparent in the first round when Cotto twice wobbled the champion with well timed jabs..

The big question coming into this fight was, how well would Cotto deal with a good boxer known for utilizing quick hand speed and footwork. The difference, however, was Cotto’s superior strength. Whenever Cotto landed, he appeared to get the attention of his taller foe who often seemed off balance. Cotto’s balance, however, was stellar. In addition to being the stronger guy, Cotto also consistently won the battle of the jabs and this enabled him to score effectively.

Through three rounds, Cotto was clearly ahead on the scorecards. It was not until round four that Yuri started making some noise with some good lead rights. Cotto made adjustments and retook control the following round. He was fighting smart, working the jab, and his left hook was beginning to find the mark with more and more frequency to both head and body. In round seven, Foreman tripped while pedaling his feet and appeared to seriously injure his knee. It looked as if the fight was over, but in a brave display, Foreman battled on despite having lost his best ring asset, that being his feet and movement.

It appeared the fight was over again in round eight when a mysterious towel floated into the ring from the direction for Foreman’s corner. The stoppage seemed to be a good one. Why risk permanent injury to a young champion? The fight, however, was not called as apparently the towel was thrown from the crowd. Perhaps Foreman’s corner should have heeded the crowd’s hints, but for better or worse, Foreman marched on and absorbed some brutal shots from Cotto in the process. At the start of the ninth, Cotto came out boxing smartly and working behind the jab again. Everything came to an end when Cotto blasted Foreman with a perfectly placed hook to the body which sent the champion awkwardly down to the canvas.

It was a tremendous victory for Cotto and proves he is still a force to be reckoned with. The changes he made in his game since pairing with Steward were on full display. On a recent edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio in the lead-up to this fight Emanuel Steward stressed the importance of balance when he stated: “ He’s doing more than I expected. I thought he would have a rough time of adjusting from the head bent down elbows out type style and changing it to my style which is more of a balance style. The first thing I teach is balance—balance, even distribution of weight, and a left jab.” He also stressed the importance of fighting tall: I saw then that his problem was bending down too low. He’s 5’7” or 5’8” but he fights, and I actually stopped one of the workouts and showed him. I said, ‘When you’re fighting let me show you how low you have your head—you’re 4’11. That’s how low you have your head down and your natural movements are not going to happen because you’re in such an awkward position.’

That was the key for Miguel—fighting tall, using good balance, and working behind a strong jab. Using these fundamentals as a foundation paved the way to a career redefining win. If Cotto can improve this much after just teaming up with Steward, imagine how much more he can improve going forward. After all, Emanuel Steward is the same man who helped redefine the careers of Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. Like those two, Cotto is a model student who is willing to learn and put in the hard work required to succeed at the top level. Before this fight, many people were writing Cotto off, but with this victory he may have firmly placed himself right back in the thick of things. For Miguel Cotto, the future is wide open.


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In other action on the card:

Jorge Diaz TKO 6 Jae Sung Lee
Christian Martinez TKO 4 Jonathan Cuba
Terry Buterbaugh UD 6 Tommy Rainone
Abner Cotto UD 6 Edgar Portillo
Pawel Wolak UD 10 James Moore
Juan Gonzalez UD 4 Juan Lucio
Vanes Martirosyan UD 10 Joe Greene

Article posted on 06.06.2010

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