Monday, December 18

Cotto’s Comeback Covered in Controversy

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After a long night for boxing fans that started in either Turkey or Germany (dependent on what the fans were keeping eyes on) 5th July 2010 finished off in the infamous Yankee Stadium, in what was a night of rebirths. The first fight held in the infamous ball park since 1974’s controversial Ali/Norton III was to be the first fight at Light Middleweight for former 2 weight champion (Light Welterweight and Welterweight) Miguel Cotto. Cotto was challenging the first practising Jew to hold a world title in over 70 years, Yuri Foreman the WBA Light Middleweight champion. Foreman had picked up the title on the under card of Cotto’s darkest hour, a 12th round TKO to Manny Pacquiao by beating Daniel Santos, which lead to yet another under story of national pride for Puerto Rico, the birth place of both Santos and Cotto.

To say the fight had it’s stories in the build up was to state the obvious, though was it going to be a story inside the ring? Cotto was giving away 3 to 4 inches in height and had had numerous hard wars in his career that had seen him possibly left as damaged goodswhilst he was also with a new trainer whilst Foreman was relatively untested though a noted spoiler who could bore fight fans to sleep with his negativity. If Foreman had his way many were assuming it wouldn’t be a memorable story but rather one that they would tire of quickly. The challenger wearing “Yankee pinstripes” came to the ring with a record of 34-2 (27) whilst the champion was 28-0-0-1 (8), although Foreman was the champion he had almost lucked into his title against a weight drained Santos. Cotto however didn’t seem to be as damaged as many had assumed as he dominated the opening round and put the champion on the back foot right through the round.

Foreman was more impressive in the 2nd where he was busier using his speed to land punches and move though seemed very concious of Cotto’s power that shook him when it connected. Although Cotto didn’t look like the fighter he once was he looked a much better fighter than he had done in some time, though he had started well in his fight with Clottey before almost imploding from a cut. Though in the third a small mark formed on Cotto’s face under his right eye, was this going to slowly open into the cuts that had plagued in recent years? Foreman started the 4th much faster with hard shots, was this the start of Cotto fading? A right hand with Foreman against the ropes showed that he was still there though it was Foreman’s right hand that was the dominant punch during the 4th. HBO scored it 39-37 after 4 though it was fair to say that 38-38 was a fair score as well after the first 3rd of the bout.

The 5th saw the start of Cotto’s left hook making a long over due return, as well as this he had left Foreman’s nose bloody in a round that seemed to show Foreman slowing down at last with Cotto re-establishing himself. The expected spoiling of Foreman had seemed non-existent even if he had been reliant on movement and trying to avoid Cotto’s shots.

The 6th saw Foreman spend almost the entire round on his bike as Cotto started to really relax and look like he was enjoying himself, probably the first time in a long while that Cotto had enjoyed fighting, even showing it with a smile. The 7th saw controversy strike, Foreman slipped, first the commentators thought it was a cameraman though it later seemed that his right knee had just given way and suffered an injury to his leg. With Foreman’s movement severely hampered and blood running down his face from his nose the fight was as good as over, Foreman’s keep asset had been effectively ripped from him and the crowd knew it. The round was all Cotto as he took advantage of his injured prey.

Foreman gamely continued coming out for the 8th knowing his foot work was massively compromised and in the 8th the knee again seemed to buckle,the writing was on the wall before Foreman’s corner threw in the towel the jumped on the Apron, was it an 8th round TKO to Cotto? A DQ? Anthony Mercante ruled otherwise, ignoring the towel and told every one to get out of the ring and let Foreman continue if he wanted. Mercante making a possibly controversial decision but for a rarity in boxing THE RIGHT ONE. A gutsy call by the referee that let the champion choose to continue if he wished. The fight resumed after a messy few moments. An announcement over the PA system further solidified the call by Mercante as the announcement came the the towel had come from an outside source (not Foremans corner), further vindication if needed that Mercante had called it perfectly.

A left body hook sent Foreman down in the 9th and it was only then that Mercante stopped it, the Cotto body attack, like Cotto’s winning streak and the Yankee Stadium had all made their return to boxing viewers. Although the talking points are numerous credit needs to be given to everyone involved. Firstly Bob Arum who brought boxing back to the home of Baseball, Yuri Foreman for putting on a good showing, even when he was injured, Miguel Cotto for bouncing back from the loss to Manny Pacquiao and Arthur Mercante Jr for making the right call in a hard situation. Although some were expecting no stories worthy of noting to come out of the fight it turned into the opposite, full of stories and character in another memorable Cotto’ fight.


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