It seems a lifetime ago since the Puerto Rico boxer Miguel Angel Cotto campaigned at light-welterweight. There has been many a tough fight for Cotto since then, Cotto has consistently been in the most exciting, brutal and most competitive fights in boxing’s hardest divisions. His roll call of opponents is second to none – Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito and Zab Judah to name but a few. There have been brutal wars, fights with controversy, fights with drama, bloodshed, but at all times its been exciting.
Cotto had a lot to live up to right from the start – for a boxer hailing from Puerto Rico you have to not only face your opponent across the ring, you have to face the legends that have gone before you – Wilfredo Gomez and Felix Trinidad and many more are icons of the fight game in Puerto Rico, where boxing is the national sport. Trinidad’s departure from the limelight just as Cotto began to emerge as a force on the world stage didn’t make it easy for this future 2 time world champion to shine. Cotto could be awkward at times – not always effusive in interviews, here was a fighter that truly preferred to let his fists do the talking. For a public used to the quick smile of Trinidad, that was a slow journey to take Cotto into their hearts in the same way. Cotto has only really emerged as a superstar from his appearances in HBO’s wonderful 24/7 documentary for his fight with Pacquiao.
Despite his later popularity Cotto has often found himself in tough spots throughout his career. Antonio Margarito inflicted a terrible beating on Cotto in their fight – this at the time seemed to shatter the image of the indestructible Cotto. However in his next fight Margarito was caught with illegal padding (plaster of paris lumps) on his hands, suddenly Cotto’s loss was forgiven. In that fight Cotto had led the scorecards in the first half of the fight, before Margarito’s seemingly enormous strength disfigured Cotto to the point where he took a knee in submission. Taking that knee in submission is a damaging thing in boxing. Suddenly Cotto found himself vindicated – if muted – Top Rank his promotional company also promote Margarito so he was unlikely to publically discredit his stablemate even after Margarito was suspended for a year.
Enter in the era of Cotto the wronged fighter, tainted after Margarito’s beating, excussed but still potentially damaged goods. Cotto did what he’s done all along – take another tough fight and keep on keeping on. Enter fighters like Shane Mosley, fighters still at a peak of sorts and universally avoided by most other fighters. Cotto took him on, walked through fire and came out with a decision victory. It wasnt a walk in the park though. He took easier nights later against trumped-up Contender winner Alfredo Gomez and others but he kept on fighting. Then came Pacquiao.
Cotto at the weigh in for his fight with Manny Pacquiao
Pacquiao brings the mega-fight. He brings HBO money too. Cotto was competitive at first despite being robbed of raining champions right to have the fight at his weight and having his belt on the line. It was clear that Pacquiao was calling the shots – demands of $1 million for every pound that Cotto came in over the agreed weight was publicied when the deal was signed. Boiled down to 145 pounds (welterweight being 147) Cotto somehow looked the smaller man to Pacquiao and as the rounds went by he began to be broken down by the sheer aggressive brilliance of Pacquiao. On the way to be stopped on a TKO defeat in the 12th round Cotto showed plenty of guts, he didn’t quit but he took a beating.
His next fight against Yuri Foreman is up a weight at 154 pounds – super welterweight, so the assumption inside the Cotto camp must be that he can’t boil down to the same fighter at welterweight or below. Foreman is a WBA world champion and regarded as an awkward customer. He has never been in a war though, doesn’t have a career of competitive tough fights against him. Will years of the experience be Cotto’s edge or his undoing? We will find out on June 6th when Cotto Foreman collide at Yankee Stadium.
It’s often lamented by fans and pundits alike that there is not enough talent coming through the ranks in boxing. Luckily the hotbed of boxing that is Puerto Rico that has produced fighters like Felix Trinidad, Miguel Cotto and Wilfred Benítez has also given birth to another potential great – Juan Manuel Lopez.
Already a world champion at super bantamweight and now reigning WBO featherweight champion, Juanma is starting to show the signs of greatness that transform a contender to that elite pantheon of great fighters.
His current record stands at 28 wins, 25 by way of knockout and no losses. There have been some coming of age fights along the way though – most notably in his fight with Rogers Mtagwa, where he was forced to fight and tough out a twelve round unanimous decision. That was the kind of fight that can take a young champion out of their winning ways – as things start to go into the later round against an opponent who takes all your shots and doesn’t roll over, but Lopez got through some very shaky moments and kept his cool to do what was necessary to win the fight. Those kind of smarts tend to come in handy in a boxing career.
His conquering of Daniel Ponce De Leon was an early indicator of greatness too – this tough Mexican is well-known for his power and ability to take an opponent out with either hand. Juanma handled the fight brilliantly – have a look at some highlights below:
Posted in boxing
Tagged bantamweight, bob arum, Daniel Ponce De Leon, edwin valero, featherweight, felix trinidad, Juanma, miguel cotto, Puerto Rico, Rogers Mtagwa, top rank, WBO, Wilfred Benítez
Picture a moment in time if you will: it’s the final seconds of the 12th round of a WBC and IBF light welterweight championship title fight in Las Vegas, 1990.
El Gran Campeón Mexicano
Eleven savage rounds have already passed and Julio Cesar Chavez is losing the fight, the judges, everyone watching and Chavez himself knows it. All his opponent Meldrick Taylor has to do is remain standing and he wins the belts and more importantly takes Chavez’s unbeaten record of 68 wins away from him.
With 20 seconds left on the clock Chavez who has been stalking his man doggedly throughout the entire fight connects the right hand he had been waiting to land all night and wipes Taylor out. When Taylor staggers to his feet the referee Richard Steele waves the fight off with Taylor in no state to continue.
Controversial as the referees decision was, for me Chavez showed the virtues in that fight that he had displayed throughout his ring entire career – aggression, pressure and a mindset of coming to battle – to walk through all that was thrown at him and destroy!
Chavez finally retired in his twenty-fifth year as a professional boxer with a record of 107 wins, 6 losses and 2 draws, with 86 knockouts. He holds records for most successful defenses of world titles - 27! and most title fights – 37!
Chavez also has the longest undefeated streak in boxing history. His record was 89-0-1 going into his first loss to Frankie Randall and had an 87 fight win streak until his controversial draw with Whitaker.
For those keen to know more about Chavez track down Diego Luna’s recent film:
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Tagged bob arum, boxing, Diego Luna, don king, Frankie Randall, Julio Cesar Chavez, Light heavyweight, lightweight, Meldrick Taylor, mexico, p4p, Super Featherweight, welterweight
My personal favorite punch in boxing – the left hook to the body. Sometimes known as the left to the liver this is a punch that if applied correctly is a show stopper.
Ricky Hatton delivers a left hook to the liver
Pioneered by latin fighters who favour body punches – that weaken and drain an opponent, the left hook to the body is a classic but a hard punch to land to perfection as it relies on pin point accuracy, foot work and power all combined in an instant.
Ricky Hatton delivered such a punch in his fight with Mexican Jose Luis Castillo. The Hitman Hatton – known as the Manchester Mexican for his love of body punches destroyed Castillo in the 4th round of their Vegas fight on June 23, 2007 with the left hook to the liver – the perfect punch as it was called afterwards.
Hatton's Perfect Punch
Bob Arum the legendary boxing promoter said after the fight “In 42 years of boxing, I’ve seen that punch land maybe 5 times”.
This punch is a show stopper, Castillo said he was unable to breath after it. One look at his face tells you just how potent the effect is.
Watch for yourselves the full 4th round of Hatton Castillo and see the work that goes into positioning the punch – its no lucky shot!
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Tagged Best Boxing News Sites Around!, bob arum, boxing, fighter, hatton, hitman, jose luis castillo, left hook, mexican, perfect punch, promoter, ricky hatton, sugar ray robinson, top rank, vegas