Sharkie’s Machine: Miguel Cotto Hands Yuri Foreman His First Loss

By Frank Gonzalez Jr. - Former Welterweight and current Jr. Middleweight titlist, Miguel Cotto (35-2, 28 KO’s) rose to the top of his game while being trained by his uncle, Evangelista Cotto but after numerous fall outs, the uncle and nephew parted company. In the absence of his uncle, Miguel’s new trainers did not find ways to better prepare Cotto to win against top fighters and he has since been criticized for having conditioning issues that led to lesser stamina in late rounds of big fights, namely his last two outings against Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao. While Yuri Foreman (28-1, 8 KO’s) is no Sergio Martinez, Cotto looked very good against the five-foot-eleven former Jr. Middleweight titlist as he used his jab, footwork and ring generalship to win in convincing fashion over a very good technical fighter in Foreman..

To his credit, Cotto has faced some of the best guys in his division; he’s a dignified man that never talks any trash. He remains the same hard working, honest boxer he’s always been. Cotto’s new trainer, Emanuel Steward, has good experience in getting results. Clearly he helped Cotto find what’s been missing in his last two outings. Steward has helped Cotto remember who he was and Saturday night in Yankee Stadium, Cotto looked like the fighter he was before he ever lost his first fight; fluid boxing skills, great footwork and respectable stamina—for all of nine rounds.

This fight didn’t go the full 12 rounds, so we don’t really know how well the stamina issue has been addressed. The two losses on Cotto’s record came at the hands of Antonio Margarito, where Cotto was winning the fight handily by out boxing Margarito until the late rounds, when Cotto ran out of gas and paid dearly when Margarito was suddenly able to catch him with big shots that saw Cotto drop to a knee in surrender. His second loss was to the most hailed fighter in boxing today; Manny Pacquiao, in a fight where Cotto had some good early rounds but was ultimately issued a beating that was stopped by the referee in the final round. Since then, questions have lingered about whether Miguel Cotto is ‘washed up.’ Saturday night in the Boogie Down Bronx, that question was answered.

The fight:

Round One

Cotto lands a jab to open. Foreman boxes outside, landed a jab. Cotto double jab knocks him backward. Cotto again scores with the jab. Cotto right to the face. Cotto goes for the body. All Cotto as Foreman appeared tight and nervous. Cotto’s footwork good. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Two

Foreman opens with jabs and lands a few. Cotto relaxed, doing his little dance in and out of range, the way he used to in his better days. Cotto jab to chin. Cotto stuns Foreman back with another jab. Yuri runs a bit then comes back with some jabs and a combo. Cotto looked to be waiting for Yuri to present himself for a big shot that could end things early. Foreman used lots of energy running. 10-9 Cotto.

Foreman’s corner tells him “Don’t give him any more money!”

Round Three

Cotto left hook. Cotto pressed Foremen runs. Foreman dropped his mouthpiece for no reason! Cotto left hook to the body. Foreman hard right! Ref stops action to replace Foreman’s mouthpiece. Cotto jab to face. Cotto comfortable, though he has a mouse starting under his right eye. Cotto out boxed Foreman all round. Foreman landed a shot before the bell. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Four

Foreman landed a hard right, left hook, then a right. Foreman boxing faster. Foreman hard right! Foreman owns the momentum for the moment. Cotto lands a right, set up from his jab. Cotto stalking lands more jabs. Cotto punches Foreman into corner; Foreman slips, and ruled slip. Cotto left hook. Best round for Foreman but Cotto landed more and continues to be the more efficient boxer. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Five

Cotto lands combo upstairs. Foreman lands in early exchanges but nothing big. Foreman left hook. Cotto left hook! Cotto left hook as Foreman comes in. Cotto upper cut. Yuri nose bleeds throughout the round. Cotto defense is good, his mobility is good, and his demeanor is good. Foreman seems in desperation mode. He must score and get some rounds in the bank, as he doesn’t possess much in the way of punching power. Cotto left hook at end of round. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Six

Lot of nothing early on…Cotto presses. Foreman left to body. Cotto left hook as Foreman circles to his left. Cotto blocks 4 out of 5 of Yuri’s shots. Cotto chases Foreman down, matching his speedy footwork. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Seven

Cotto smiled as round seven started. Foreman still running, going backwards and circling around to avoid Cotto. Foreman tripped and appeared to hurt his ankle? Foreman comes back and shows big heart in doing so! Cotto goes back to work, chasing and punching. Foreman slips and falls and appears unable to keep his legs. Action resumes. Cotto looking for the KO. Cotto lands jabs, hooks, and a right. Foreman answers with a quick combo. Cotto left hook knocks Foreman’s mouthpiece out. Foreman right to Cotto’s chin! Cotto unmoved. Cotto landing big shots and with 20 seconds to go, Cotto can close the show but Foreman makes it out of the ring. 10-9 Cotto.

Foreman’s corner tended to his wounds.

Round Eight

Foreman notably unstable. Cotto does his job and comes in, jabs and keeps working. Foreman is game but outgunned and possibly injured to a degree that he may not be able to continue. Yuri’s dragging his right foot as they boxed when suddenly a white towel came flying into the ring.

Confusion in the ring where there should be none. Mercante dismisses everyone from the ring. Is the fight going to continue?? “The Corner has not thrown in the towel” Mercante says as he readies the fighters to continue. Cotto went and hugged Foreman, as though it were over. But its not…I never seen such a thing. A white towel is thrown in the ring when one fighter looks unable to win and that doesn’t stop the fight? Strange.

Cotto left hook. Cotto right uppercut. Foreman right over the top. Cotto jabs, jabs, chases Foreman until the bell rings. 10-9 Cotto.

An announcement assured the crowd that “Only the ref can stop the fight and that the towel didn’t come from Yuri’s corner.”

Round Nine

Cotto left hook to the body floors Foreman. Mercante stops the fight at 42 seconds into the round. Cotto wins by TKO in 9.

Foreman gave a good effort and showed bravery under adversity, his best round was the fourth but even that wasn’t enough to win that round. I couldn’t find a round to give Foreman, since Cotto always landed the more telling shots throughout the fight.

Congratulations to Miguel Cotto, “the new” WBA Jr. Middleweight titlist. Perhaps now Cotto can regain the high esteem he enjoyed before running into Margarito and Pacquiao. And with Margarito recently joining the ranks of the Jr. Middleweight division, a rematch against Margarito would be hugely anticipated and if it were held in a venue as popular as Yankee Stadium, it would be a huge money maker without having to be on Pay-Per-View.

At five feet-eleven inches tall, Yuri Foreman proved that Cotto can fight taller fighters to successful outcomes. At 29 years old, Cotto still has a few good years in him. With the right training regimen, Cotto can remain in the top tier of elite fighters in his class. I’d love to see Cotto fight Alfredo Angulo or Kermit Cintron, who looked great against Paul Williams before falling out of the ring and losing a fight that didn’t go four rounds and ended on account of injury.

The referee, Arthur Mercante Jr., was interviewed after the fighters were and the main question for him was about how he handled the white towel being thrown into the ring and his not stopping the fight.

Below are the post fight interviews. The Mercante interview is most interesting, since referees are supposed to be impartial.

First Cotto was interviewed and he said that his training went well and that he’s back to fighting the way he was before his two losses. Regarding the white towel tossed in the ring, Cotto said: “I thought the fight was stopped. I saw his trainer throw the towel in the ring.”

He also said he just followed instructions and when the action resumed, he did his job. On how he won, he said he went back to what he made his bones with and that, “Miguel…is back.”

Foreman was then interviewed and said: “I was making side to side movements and my knee gave in. There was a lot of sharp pain but Mercante let me walk and try regain myself.”

On not quitting in spite of his injury, Foreman said: “I’m a (former) world champion, we’re not quitting. We’re here to fight.”

As Foreman’s interview ended, the referee walked up to him and shook his hand vigorously and said, “You’re a great champion and a tough kid. It was a pleasure working with you.”

That seemed a bit strange. A referee should maintain a sense of impartiality but to this fan, that didn’t seem the case Saturday night in the Bronx. During the weirdest moments of the fight, Mercante always had Foreman’s back, giving him extra time to recover when his leg looked like a stoppage was in order to protect the injured fighter, letting him continue for nearly a minute after Foreman had spit out his mouthpiece for no noticeable reason. I wonder why that was. Sure, Foreman is a tough kid but he lost every round on my card. Yes, he showed toughness but wasn’t able to shift the momentum in his favor for more than a minute or so in the fourth round.

Regarding the towel being thrown in the ring, Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. said: “The towel came in, in the heat of battle. There was a good exchange going at that moment. And the towel came in and I felt it wasn’t necessary… and I didn’t know where it came from. About ten seconds prior to that, someone from the corner stepped up and said, “Stop the fight, stop the fight.” I looked and there was no one in the corner. There was no need to stop the fight. They were just in the middle of a good fight, a great fight. That’s what the fans came to see. It was a shame…”

M Kellerman: Do you know who threw the towel?

Mercante said: “At the moment I didn’t know.”

Kellerman: Do you know who it was now?

Mercante: I kind of know now because everybody was yelling that it was the corner.

Kellerman: The Corner man later denied it.

Mercante: “Well, the fight continued. It was a great fight. I thought I did the right thing to let it continue…”

Kellerman said: You did do the right thing, even by the rules, but you had to clear the entire ring and inform the fighters, who both thought the fight was over that they had to continue to fight. Were there any concerns that their adrenaline was gone and it was a difficult position for the fighters to be in?

Mercante: “If you noticed, I called time, both guys had a minute to rest, I went over to the corner of Yuri and I said, ‘suck it up kid, you’re game.’ We all seen it, he was game, he went down, he got back up. That’s the true heart of a champion.”

I never heard a ref show such dedication to one of two fighters he was refereeing. Some might call that being partial. But either way, the story of this fight is that Miguel Cotto showed good mobility, stamina and ring generalship and was on course to win a shutout against the former 154 pound WBA titlist. Mercante never once credited Cotto for his excellent performance and clear victory.

The truth is, at the time the towel had come into the ring, Foreman was working on a wobbly right knee and had little chance of even making it through the next round. This was a great fight, but not for Foreman. While we all appreciate a display of big heart, which Yuri definitely showed, this fight against Cotto was really nothing short of a blowout.

Mercante might’ve better served Foreman by recognizing his handicap and stopping the fight before Foreman got seriously hurt.

The bottom line was that Miguel Cotto was the better fighter Saturday night and that is not to take anything away from Foreman, who gave a respectable account of himself and probably gained more fans in this loss for his heart alone, never mind the strange rantings of the referee.

Cotto, who stands at five foot seven inches tall, is clearly short for the 154 pound division but his style affords him as good an opportunity to be successful as he was at lighter weight classes because of his skill level. Cotto’s footwork looked very good Saturday night and his defense was pretty solid.

Guys I’d like to see Cotto fight next include a rematch with Antonio Margarito, Kermit Cintron, who looked really good against Paul Williams before falling out of the ring and losing a fight where he was injured without four rounds being completed. But imagine… Cotto vs. Alfredo Angulo? That would be a great action fight! A good warm up fight might involve the man who won on the under card Saturday night at Yankee Stadium—Vanes Martirosyan (28-0, 17 KO’s). At six feet tall, he’d give Cotto some good experience against much taller fighters. That might even prepare him to face tall Paul “The Punisher” Williams. Time will tell.

Congratulations to Miguel Cotto for an excellent performance in his first fight at 154. And kudos to Yuri Foreman for showing big heart in a tough outing.

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Article posted on 06.06.2010

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