Cotto’s last chance to be a legend
What made Michael Jordan truly great was that his career defining moments were performances on the biggest stage, when pressure was at its highest point and the eyes of the world were on him.
As good as Jordan was, it was his ability to perform on the big stage that made him a legend, and it’s from similar feats that Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao share similar stature in Boxing.
Miguel Cotto walks into the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, with numerous question marks next to his name, and the eyes of the world watching. He has a chance to finally cement his name alongside the greats having missed the opportunity when previously afforded.
He steps in the ring against the No.1 ranked fighter in the world, a man that is the most outspoken and most charismatic fighter on the planet, Floyd Mayweather, who in 42 fights is yet to taste defeat.
As good as Miguel Cotto has been, he has never truly made the leap to that elite level that Mayweather and Pacquiao exist on. There is no denying Cotto is destined for the Hall of Fame, but questions still linger over the Puerto Rican.
Whenever the hype starts to build about Cotto, he falls short.
It first happened in 2008 with Cotto undefeated on the back of a 32-0 record. Boxing pundits had Cotto ready as the sports next big star, ready to join Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in a Hagler-Hearns-Leonard-Duran type rivalry.
What followed was a stunning knockout loss to Antonio Margarito, who battered Cotto from pillar to post in a way never seen before. It was eventually revealed that Margarito fought with “loaded gloves” with plaster apparel found in his hand wraps in a later fight, which was justification for some for Cotto’s loss, but many believe Cotto has never been the same since. His beating at the hands of Margarito changed him, as if he left a piece of him with the blood, sweat and tears he shed that night.
From the loss to Margarito, Cotto bounced back with back to back victories over Michael Jennings and the tough, Joshua Clottey. Hype began rising again. Hype that the Margarito loss was merely a blip on the radar and Cotto was back to take his place among the elite.
Up next was a clash with Manny Pacquiao and a chance for Cotto to finally prove his capabilities. What followed was a crushing 12th round TKO defeat after being sent to the canvas on four occasions in the fight.
The one sided result showed the world that Cotto was not yet elite, and for all the hype truly lacked what it took to compete with the best in the world, which confined him to no man’s land between Mayweather and Pacquiao and the rest.
Cotto did not give up however and quickly moved to Super Welterweight in which he promptly disposed of Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga. Tongues began to wag again.
Cotto looked revitalized at his new weight and a change in trainer showed the one dimensional brawler of the past had more than the odd trick up his sleeve.
In December of 2011, Cotto jumped back in the ring with the man that took his undefeated streak away, Antonio Margarito. The Mexican had served his suspension for the loaded wraps and returned to the ring against Manny Pacquiao. Margarito was no match for Pacquiao, with Margarito taking so much punishment that he suffered a detached retina which took Margarito out of the ring for almost one year.
Miguel Cotto enacted his revenge as he impressed all with his boxing ability with a ninth round stoppage after doctors refused to let Margarito continue due to further damage to his eye.
The performance was so emphatic that the whispers started once more. A Pacquiao rematch was touted before talk of a Mayweather- Pacquiao fight gained momentum, only to be delayed again.
This led to Floyd Mayweather signing a fight with the next best fighter in Cotto, which gives Cotto his final chance to prove to the world just how good he can be.
Mayweather however, is no ordinary man. He is the best fighter on the planet with 42 wins from 42 fights. He has beaten the who’s who of boxing with a roll call of legends holding place on his resume.
Names such as Hatton, Mosley, Marquez, De La Hoya, Judah, Gatti, Ortiz, Castillo and Corrales to name a few, all of which that will be instilled in the Hall of Fame at some point in time.
What is equally impressive is Mayweather’s ability to move between weight classes and still have success. He will do so again, by moving to Super Middleweight to meet for Cotto’s WBA Super World Middleweight Title.
Fans of the HBO Boxing Series “24/7 Mayweather-Cotto” would have witnessed the bizarre training techniques of “Money” Mayweather. Whether it is trips to Burger King or El Pollo Loco both before and after training, to shopping for $11,000 shoes or completing his bag work while talking on a mobile phone, Floyd Mayweather just does things differently.
But despite his shenanigans on camera, he has met every challenge ever presented to him and crushed it. As the great man says “42 men have come with a plan and they have all come up short”.
Many, including myself expect Mayweather to add Cotto to the list of names vanquished and move onto 43-0, before taking a short vacation to serve a jail sentence before trying once more to make a fight with Pacquiao for late 2012.
The experts point to Cotto’s loss to Margarito and Cotto’s loss to Pacquaio as justification as to why Cotto just doesn’t have what it takes to stop a legend this Sunday.
But Cotto is desperate. Sunday’s fight with Mayweather is a must win for Cotto for many reasons.
A victory will finally see him make the leap to the true elite standing in boxing , and it will also allow him to generate massive pay days with fights with Pacquiao and Mayweather.
A loss will see him lose relevance, as Cotto has beaten almost every fighter relevant below him but would have come up short against the top two in Mayweather and Pacquiao, leaving him further stricken in a promotional no-man’s land.
A loss for Cotto on Sunday confines him to the realm of sportsmen who had a Hall of Fame career, who won championships and found fame in the process. But when the pressure was on and the blowtorch applied simply came up short. A win for Cotto however will see the questions that have plagued experts for years finally answered.
But just how to beat Floyd “Money” Mayweather is the biggest question of them all, and so far no man has found the secret.
Cotto must find it on Sunday otherwise he will be confined to the history books as another “what if”?
My prediction? Mayweather by decision.
An interesting aside from the main event is the main support fight which sees’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez take on “Sugar” Shane Mosley for the WBC Light-Middleweight title.
Alvarez is considered the man that will step into the void left by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao once they both call it a day, and is even touted to meet Mayweather in the ring should both be successful in their respective fights this weekend, and the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight continues to fall through.
Mosley has a lot of doubters and many feel his gloves should have been hung up quite some time ago. He looked promising early against Mayweather before fading and was miserable in his fight with Pacquiao.
Juan Manuel Marquez and Eric Morales have shown that you should write off a warrior too soon, but it would be hard to see Mosley’s career continuing if he is beaten comprehensively again against the rising star.
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