Sharkie's Machine: 157-Pound Miguel Cotto Defends 140-Pound Title

27.02.05 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: Saturday night in Bayamon Puerto Rico, WBO Jr. Welterweight Champion, Miguel Cotto (23-0-0-19 KO's), entered the ring weighing 157-pounds, making him a Jr. Middleweight—defending his Jr. Welterweight Title over his 140-pound challenger, DeMarcus “Chop-Chop” Corley (29-4-1-16 KO's).

Corley entered the ring wearing a ridiculous looking head mask that he designed himself. It resembled a Fly with dreadlocks, with big bulging round blackened eyes and black tubes coming off the sides of the head. Last time I checked, Halloween was in October, not February. Cotto entered in his usual, solemn manner, the Puerto Rican crowd screaming as he walked to the ring.

After Corley removed his costume and Cotto took off his robe, they got it on. This fight was a slugfest from the start. Both were throwing big punches and both were landing.. Cotto was noticeably bigger than his opponent and his punches naturally had more on them. But Corley certainly held his own and even wobbled Cotto in the third round. There were a lot of low blows and punches after the bells. It was an intense contest and both men had their moments, until late in the fifth round, when Corley took a knee and the referee called a premature halt to the bout.

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The Fight

Round 1
Cotto landed the first significant punch, a right to Corley's face. Cotto then landed a left hook that pushed Corley to the canvas. The ref counted, Corley got up and was fine. Cotto aggressively pursued him, trying to knock him out in the first round as he attacked with punches that pushed Corley through the ropes. Corley got himself together, had some bounce in his legs, used his boxing skills and scored some decent punches in return. Emotions were high and things started getting ugly after Corley hit Cotto while the ref was breaking them from a clinch. Cotto retaliated. A moment later, Corley hit Cotto after the bell. Cotto hit him back. The ref did nothing to establish order. 10-8 Cotto.

Round 2
They traded shots at center ring and Cotto landed the heavier blows. Corley took the bigger man's shots well. Cotto threw a low blow that saw Corley recoil. Enrique Falu, the referee, mumbled inaudibly as he took a point (from Cotto), bypassing the customary, official warning. Corley took about thirty seconds to recover. When action resumed, Corley landed a flush right
hook to Cotto's face followed by a left to the opposite side. Cotto was looking for the knockout, aggressively stalking Corley, whose southpaw style, movement and combination punching was proving effective against the pressing Cotto. 9-9 Even.

Round 3
Corley landed a good body shot. Cotto returned with a body shot of his own. Corley smiled in acknowledgement of Cotto's punch. During an exchange at center ring, Corley landed a winding right hook to Cotto's left temple, that wobbling him. Cotto grabbed onto Corley and held on to stay up. The referee separated them and Cotto staggered off to the side on wobbly legs. Corley
went after him. Cotto was able to weather Corley's storm by blocking and moving away and as the seconds ticked, two minutes turned into ten seconds, as Corley was unable to finish Cotto. 10-8 Corley.

Round 4
Cotto regained his composure and was working his way back to being the aggressor. Corley was finding a home for his right hook when he'd counter over Cotto's right jabs. Corley was the superior boxer in round four, landing uppercuts, right hooks, straight lefts and even a walloping low blow that choked Cotto backwards. In the absence of any prior warnings, the ref took a point from Corley for the foul. Corley landed some flush shots, while Cotto swung and missed wildly in the final seconds but did manage to land another low blow—AFTER the bell. The referee said nothing about Cotto's foul. 9-9 Even. The fight was tied on my scorecard at this point.

Round 5
Corley boxed and moved. Cotto, on solid legs again, pressed aggressively. They exchanged hooks. Corley landed a solid right hook and Cotto landed a crisp left hook. They brawled into the ropes, where Cotto landed another big left hook, followed by a right upstairs and a left to the body. Corley sunk down to his knees and the ref counted. That was the second time Corley had
been downed in the fight. When action resumed, Cotto went for the kill and pressured Corley into the corner ropes, throwing a lot of punches, mostly missing the mark but one shot hit Corley on the back of his shoulder and Corley slipped to a knee. He looked up at the ref expecting him to count but the ref waved the fight off. Angry and protesting, Corley was walked to his
corner by the strange, mumbling referee. Miguel Cotto was ‘awarded' the win by TKO 5.

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The stoppage was questionable. It reeked of a hometown decision. What rule says Corley is not allowed to take a knee? There was no three knockdown rule. This was a Championship fight. A good referee should know better. It gave the impression that Cotto was being protected in front of his hometown audience.

After the scare in the third round, where Corley proved capable of knocking Cotto out, the ref took the first opportunity to stop the fight when Cotto got Corley in trouble. Hey, that's the way it goes in Boxing. We have to have a controversial situation at least once a month.

Miguel Cotto remains undefeated as he upped his record to 23-0.

During the post fight interview, Cotto was asked about the third round, where he was wobbled by a Corley right hook. He said it was a punch he had to forget about and that he could not defraud the fans that came to see him, or himself, and that was why he came back in the end to win. He also credited Corley for being a stronger opponent than he expected.

Cotto did show resilience and was able to regain himself after being rocked in the third round. Overall, Cotto was landing the harder punches and may have went on to win this fight for real if the referee didn't stop it prematurely.

Maybe Corley would have come back strong and beat Cotto, but thanks to referee Enrique Falu, who killed the suspense, we'll never know.

When asked who he wants to fight next, Cotto gave the usual answer, dryly saying that he will fight whoever his team puts in front of him. I'd like to see him fight “Vicious” Vivian Harris.

Cotto is a good, solid fighter but he is not as skillful a boxer as the other top guys in the division. Mayweather may be too slick for him to handle. Harris' would have a long reach advantage and Gatti has reinvented himself into a slickster, who punches real hard. Kostya Tszyu would dismantle him with surgical precision, combining power and excellent boxing skills. But you can never really say. That's why they fight the fights.

During his interview, Corley described the scene of him taking that final knee before the ref stopped the fight, which was showing on the monitor. “You see I went back, he missed a punch, he missed another punch, then he missed again and his back punch hit my shoulder and I went down on a knee. He didn't even hit me. The Ref just stopped the fight premature. If he wanted to stop the fight Larry, why didn't he stop it when I had him hurt?”

Merchant asked Corley to assess Cotto, Mayweather and Judah, all of whom he has recently faced and Corley said Cotto was not on the same level as Floyd or Zab. Sour grapes? Perhaps, but Corley may have a point. The reality is—no one knows what might have happened had the ref not pulled the plug on this fight. Who knows, maybe Corley would have come back strong and won. Maybe by knock out.

Corley spoke of a rematch with Cotto but somehow, I doubt that will happen. Corley deserves a rematch. He fought a lot better than many expected he would. But he did go down three times, and on paper, that can be enough to quell any controversy about the referee's choice to stop the fight. But those who saw the fight know Corley was taking a knee for strategic purposes.

Miguel Cotto should not be fighting at Jr. Welterweight if he's going to enter the ring as a Jr. Middleweight. It's just not right. Arguments can be made that Cotto is starving himself to fight at Jr. Welter, so he can have an advantage in size and power over smaller men. I don't understand why he's allowed to show up so far over the weight limit. What ever happened to rules? If a fight is contracted for 140-pounds and you show up 157, then you have breeched the contract. Without rules, where's the legitimacy?

DeMarcus Corley showed some good boxing skills Saturday and though he lost, he demonstrated that he's still a force to be reckoned with at Jr. Welter. After losing three of his last four fights, he can reasonably be considered on the decline, but who knows how he'd fare against the likes of Vivian Harris, Arturo Gatti, Ricky Hatton or the other top guys in the division?
Styles make fights and we can speculate all we want but until they meet in the ring, no one can say for sure.

Miguel Cotto walked away with a W on Saturday but he left questions about his defense and his chin. To his credit, he faced adversity and overcame it. After seeing him staggered by 140-pound DeMarcus Corley, who is more famous for his wardrobe than his power, you have to wonder how he'd fare against contenders who enter the ring weighing 154 or more, like he did Saturday night. Cotto needs to move up to at least 147. It cannot be healthy to lose 20 plus pounds for an official weigh-in and then gain almost 20 pounds before stepping between the ropes. That should not be allowed.

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Article posted on 27.02.2005

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