Give Miguel Cotto A Break!

By Doveed Linder – Having faced Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, and Joshua Clottey over the last two years, Miguel Cotto is known for taking on the best available opposition. Now that he has made it past Joshua Clottey, it looks as if the stage is set for a showdown with pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao. Cotto has accomplished a lot in his career and he may still have some great fights ahead of him. But if his handlers do, in fact, go forward with the Pacquiao fight, they would be doing their fighter a great disservice.

The fight with Antonio Margarito was a rough night for Cotto. He took some punishment and suffered the first loss of his career via TKO. Because of the controversy surrounding Margarito’s handwraps, some may view this loss as debatable, since the possibility exists that Margarito’s gloves were loaded. But regardless of this issue, the fight took a toll on Cotto and it demonstrated that he has stylistic problems with fighters who bring pressure..

Cotto bounced back from the loss to Margarito with a 5th round TKO over Michael Jennings, but his true test came against Joshua Clottey. The boxing world seems to be split down the middle as to who actually won this fight. Either way, most are in agreement that it was a close. And a close fight is ANYONE’S fight. So given the fact that it was close, no one can say that Cotto’s victory was in any way a robbery.

The bout with Clottey helped Cotto to redeem himself after the Margarito fight. One never knows how a fighter will respond after they suffer a loss the way Cotto did against Margarito. Questions had yet to be answered about Miguel Cotto and he proved that he still has the fire and all of the tools to compete with the game’s best. And now that he has reaffirmed the fact that he is still a major player in the welterweight division, it’s time to give him a break.

The bouts with Margarito and Clottey were both tough, physical fights, not to mention emotionally draining. It might be best if he takes a little time off and then comes back against a lesser opponent. After all that has happened in the last year, he needs to process everything and learn from his recent encounters. He has reached a point in his career where he needs to be very careful as to how he proceeds. And if the fight with Manny Pacquiao does happen, it might just be the battle that takes it all out of him.

At age 28, Miguel Cotto may still have a few good years left. He’s one of the top guys in the game and he certainly deserves to be in the same ring with any man in his weight class. But he needs time to rest and recover if he is going to get back on track. At this point, Manny Pacquiao is too fast, too fresh, and too confident for him. Cotto has some physical advantages in terms of strength and durability, but they wouldn’t make a difference because Pacquiao has too much momentum.

The argument can be made that Pacquiao’s recent wins over Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton don’t prove that “Pac-Man” belongs in the 140s. De La Hoya was drained for their fight and clearly not himself and many believe that Hatton was overrated and wasn’t able to provide him with a real test. Some might even make the argument that Pacquiao, himself, is overrated because of these wins. But Pacquiao has proven himself time and again since 2003, starting with his demolition of Marco Antonio Barrera. And he followed that up with wins over Mexican legends Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez. It’s true that Pacquiao’s greatest accomplishments are in the lower weight classes, but the way he took out Ricky Hatton inside of two rounds demonstrates that he has a great deal of power in the junior welterweight and possibly the welterweight divisions. And because of his accomplishments over the last 5-6 years, he has to be considered the best fighter in the world.

If Pacquiao were to fight Shane Mosley opposed to Miguel Cotto, the boxing world would still have the mega fight that they are looking for and it would probably be a much more competitive match-up. And if Cotto takes a tune-up and gives his body and mind a chance to rest, he could possibly hook up with Antonio Margarito somewhere down the road, which would give him a chance to avenge his only loss and answer the questions that still linger.

But it looks as if the Pacquiao/Cotto fight will take place, as a November 14 date is already penciled in. And when it does happen, it won’t come as a surprise if Pacquiao wins via brutal stoppage. Cotto is a soldier and a warrior and he won’t lose this fight without absorbing a great deal of punishment. Although a Pacquiao/Cotto fight has the makings one of the year’s most exciting and meaningful match-ups, one can only hope that the deal falls through and that both fighters pursue other options. Cotto has been great for boxing and he might still have a lot to give to the sport, but it would be a shame to see his career cut short because his handlers are chasing the big money fights, opposed to looking out for their fighter’s longevity and well being.