What A Night Of Boxing: Part I

26.09.05 - By Justin Hackman: Prior to the night of September 24th, the buzz circulating around Miguel Cotto’s opponent was that he could be in for a tough night. He could have a challenge ahead. Ricardo Torres could be tougher competition than Cotto’s original opponent, Gianluca Branco, even though Torres took the fight on only three weeks notice. But the operative word in each of those predeterminations is “could.” Just when boxing fans, in anticipation for the fight, would argue to themselves whether or not Cotto was in for a rough night, they would have to come back to their senses, and realize, THIS IS MIGUEL COTTO. Puerto Rico hails him as the second coming to Tito Trinidad, and as for the United States, well we have seen nothing yet to disagree with any conviction.

If the light welterweight and welterweight divisions did not boast the most talented boxers in the sport, Miguel Cotto arguably may have been king of the division at this point already in his career. However, throughout Cotto’s career, he always had names like Floyd Mayweather jr., Ricky Hatton, Zab Judah, Arturro Gatti, and Kostya Tszyu ahead of him: not an easy mountain to climb. With each subsequent fight for Cotto, fans become more and more impressed, yet somehow not quite convinced on the talented 140 pound Puerto Rican. That all changed on the night of his fight with Ricardo Torres..

In the first round of the fight, it is safe to say that no one was in shock to see Cotto knock Torres to the canvas. Although Torres may have been a bit off balance at the time, every fight fan knew it was only a matter of time before Cotto did the same thing but this time from a hard left hook to the body or right cross to the chin. Thirty seconds later, Torres lands a solid left hook to the jaw of Cotto, wobbling his legs. Because of the knockdown by Cotto, and seconds later, from the sharp left hook from Torres, each fighter provided his opponent something to think about in that minute break between rounds one and two.

Thirty seconds into the second round, Cotto is rocked hard again and seems defenseless against the ropes, as Torres is landing powerful shots to Cotto’s head seemingly at will. Had every fight fan at this point in the fight not been too busy picking their jaws up off their living room floor, they would have been thinking, “The ref may stop this soon.” Is Miguel Cotto going to get stopped? As the enigmatic flow of events continues, fans get a chance to find their heartbeat again somewhere down in the pit of their stomachs as we get to take a breath, as Cotto tastes the canvas from a hard straight right hand. Miguel argued the knockdown came as a result of a push by Torres after the punch; he may have had a point, although after all the leather that Cotto kissed for a straight minute, a light breeze would have knocked him down.

What is happening here?! Is Cotto really on the canvas? Where did this knockout artist Torres come from? After all, this is Ricardo’s first fight in the States. Granted, this should not have come as a huge surprise. With a record of 28-0 with 26 knockouts by Torres, should anyone really be in shock? Well…yeah. Numbers don’t lie, but the fact that Torres was relatively
unknown begs the question, is Cotto as good as we think he is? Or is he better than we thought he was because he is proving he can take this punishment as the fight progresses. Not only did Cotto survive the round, but he fully regained his leg strength, and came back strong in the third by doing something very smart: he disengaged from the knockout battle with the harder puncher Torres, and decided to break Ricardo down by landing piercing shots to the body on either side of his ribcage.

Cotto continues his body work in round five, hitting Torres numerous times under his ribs. Not only did Ricardo survive these devastating body blows, but he manages to retaliate by landing hard uppercuts to Cotto’s chin, putting Miguel in serious trouble for a second time. I never knew a chess match could be so violent. No matter how smart or systematic one fighter is getting, the other seems to outdo him with a trick of his own. Just when Cotto seemed to be regaining control of the fight, Torres reestablishes himself as the more dangerous man in the ring. So again, the question must be asked at this point, is Torres this good, or did we overestimate the presumed superstar Cotto?

By the end of the fifth round the answers seem to present themselves: Torres is that good. This guy can take a punch, or two or three, and give punches back even harder. The fans know at this point what is going on. Cotto is indeed the star we thought he was as he is proving he has the heart of a warrior, and the beard of a lion. To take the punches in combinations that Torres was dishing out while still fighting back to win the fight by knockout proves that Cotto is ready for anyone at 140 pounds. As for Cotto’s confidence, it will not be damaged because of the punishment he took, but rather it will skyrocket, knowing he overcame this true test. Miguel not only impressed fans like he always has done, but finally convinced everyone that he became a man in that ring on Saturday and is ready to fight the other men in his stacked division.

As for Ricardo Torres: what a fighter. American fans now know this spirited boxer. And me…I’m ready to see him again as soon as possible. What a fun night of boxing.

Article posted on 26.09.2005

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