The Aftermath of Miguel Cotto—Yuri Foreman

by Paul Albano - Two things emerged from the main event of boxing’s return to Yankee Stadium Saturday night. First, we’re apparently amidst a recession or something, because the much-hyped bout, headlined by a proven NYC attraction (the Puerto Rican born Miguel Cotto) and the type of old school ethnic clash befitting a championship fight in a famed ballpark, somehow only drew about 10,000 shy of the 30,000 estimate. Second, Cotto (35-2)—no longer prepped for battle by friend and strength coach but not quite-ready-to-be-a-head-trainer Joe Santiago, and instead tutored by the legendary Emanuel Steward—looked good. Really good. Like that guy who not all that long ago beat Zab Judah and Shane Mosley (when both were still near the top of their game) good. He deftly handled Yuri Foreman’s superior hand speed (though the difference was less than expected) by surprisingly out jabbing him, effectively cut off the ring from the lateral moving (at least until his knee gave out in the 7th) Foreman, and even dusted off his vaunted left hook to the body to end it in the 9th.. In essence, it was more a deconstruction, thorough, purposeful, and nearly frictionless, than a fight. Cotto, 29, encountered few difficulties, really only a couple lead overhand rights by Foreman in the 4th, and seemed totally unconcerned by the bizarre towel throwing incident in the 8th, where referee Arthur Mercante Jr ordered the fight to resume despite its apparent stoppage, postponing the inevitable for another round and a half.

But, it’s fair to ask how revealing of a victory this was, at least in terms of where the new Miguel Cotto stands at either welter or junior middleweight. As an adversary, the rabbi-in-training Foreman, 29, displayed extraordinary toughness and courage, refusing to use the knee injury as an excuse to escape a fight he was losing, and produced one of the great moments of the year when, upon picking himself off the canvass after his knee collapsed, and his game plan with it, he was asked by Mercante if he wanted to continue, Foreman simply gave a fatalistic nod and limped to the center of the ring to begin doing the one thing he couldn’t do but had to—trade shots with the far more powerful Cotto. Yet, for all his admirable heart and genuine skill, Foreman (28-1, 8 KO) was granted the opportunity because…well…he hits like bantamweight and never posed any threat to hurt Cotto, even when landing cleanly.

Thus, the prefight intrigue of what Cotto might’ve lost in his brutal beatings at the (plastered?) hands of Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao can be considered answered…but only sort of. That is, whatever Cotto lost, it wasn’t everything. He can still pull the trigger against a fast boxer. He’s still sharp and willing to engage. And his power, footwork, and hand speed haven’t dissipated. But what will happen if and when he fights someone with real punching power?

Someone who can hurt him? Will he still have the same unyielding resolve he showed for most of the Margarito fight and throughout his bout with Pacquiao? Or is he the damaged goods so many have surmised? It’s a question Foreman, despite his spirited effort, just couldn’t answer. For that, we’ll need to see what Cotto does next. Names like Andre Berto (if he stays at welter), 140 pound titlist Tim Bradley (if he gets by Luis Carlos Abregu July 17th), or lineal 160 pound champ (though officially title-less) Sergio Martinez at junior middle, would satisfy as both the big fight Cotto seeks and a better indicator of his new place in the 147-154 pound hierarchy.

Article posted on 10.06.2010

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