By Jason Peck: It wasn’t long ago when a possible bout between Oscar De La Hoya and WBA welterweight champ Miguel Cotto had the boxing public salivating. It seemed imminent, a foregone conclusion. Cotto’s team was obviously waiting before they signed someone else – clearly, they wanted Oscar to bite instead..
Alas, De La Hoya picked the path most traveled and signed for a rematch against Floyd Mayweather. I predict another Mayweather victory, but at least Floyd can’t seriously hurt him. On the other hand, Cotto can. A showdown with the unbeaten Puerto Rican means a huge payday, but fighting Mayweather should bring enough cash to make it worth his while.
De La Hoya-Cotto was clearly the best chance of a good scrap. As a result of their fight falling through, we get four disappointments.
De La Hoya fights Steve Forbes in a tune-up bout this May (Bad Fight#1) before challenging Mayweather again (#2). Miguel Cotto gets Alfonso Gomez (#3), whose career owes as much to a reality show as it does to his ring accomplishments. Cotto has so much faith in Gomez that he’ll likely fight Ricardo Mayorga (#4) in July.
The premise is simple enough: I’ll stack De La Hoya-Cotto against these other four matches, and make it clear that boxing lost out. Hands down, De la Hoya-Cotto had the most potential.
DE LA HOYA-FORBES: Steve Forbes is tough and seasoned. I personally thought that the former super-featherweight champ got robbed in his recent loss to Demetrius Hopkins.
There is one major problem with Forbes: The term “super-featherweight.” He’s clearly the smaller guy here, and it goes without saying that Forbes will be accommodating Oscar, not the other way around. This smacks of the kind of picking-on-the-little-guy sort of fight that earned so much derision for Jermain Taylor.
De La Hoya clearly wants a win, nothing more. Than again, tune-up bouts have always been more show than challenge anyway.
COTTO-GOMEZ: Alfonso Gomez’s most ardent fans say he’s under-rated fighter. Fewer still will say he’s “good.”
Gomez made his name from the boxing reality show “The Contender.” Just recently, Gomez earned credibility points with victories over Arturo Gatti and Ben Tackie.
Ben Tackie remained a journeyman. Arturo Gatti foguth in a bad weight class, and his 50 fights had caught up to him. Neither one was really in welterweight title contention.
Overall, Gomez doesn’t have a weapon to keep Cotto off him. He doesn’t hit that hard or move that quickly, doesn’t have an exceptional chin or a Rocky-ish heart. The ones who went the distance against Cotto had something.
When Gomez throws a punch, the champ could probably just block with his gloves. When Cotto throws a punch, odds are that Gomez will block it with his face. He doesn’t have the speed to dodge, or the tactical know-how to expose openings in Cotto’s defense.
COTTO-MAYORGA: Mayorga hasn’t been a welterweight contender in years. A prediction –
“And the winner…and still champion…”
DE LA HOYA-MAYWEATHER II: No need for elaboration. You saw the first one.
DE LA HOYA-COTTO: Quite simply, Oscar can’t really box. That’s not to say he can’t box at all, and probably has better skills than most. But when he battles guys with a reputation for ring generalship, odds are he’ll lose. Nowadays, he needs someone more like Mayorga, who would rather stand and swing than stick and jab.
Mayweather’s a boxer. That’s why he beats Oscar again. Guess who isn’t a boxer?
Miguel Cotto has made some real strides toward becoming a more balanced fighter since his early days. In his victories against Judah and Mosley, Cotto’s once-sloppy defense tightened up to the point where he could (for the most part) negate their punches and give a response of his own.
But make no mistake about it – the key asset for both Miguel and Oscar is hard-hitting offensive power. Both of their best strategies consists of seeking the knockout, and either one could do it. Expect some fireworks, a knockdown or two and the explosive end that “The World Awaits” failed to deliver on. This wouldn’t be a fight – it would be a shoot-out.
Expect also, to see more than a little swelling on Oscar’s face after this one; win or lose, Cotto would bring some pain. That’s the only reason why the fight fell through, I’m sure. I know De la Hoya promised his smokin’-hot Puerto Rican wife that he wouldn’t fight Puerto Ricans, but whatever. Bernard Hopkins promised his dying mother he wouldn’t fight past 40.
Hey, money talks.
* * *
Blame me for selling the other fights short, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m wrong. But there’s no doubt they don’t compare.
The real tragedy is that this great fight seems more and more remote with each passing day. I guess it doesn’t hurt to keep our fingers crossed.