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The Boxing Weekend: The Return of Miguel Cotto

By Geno McGahee


ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights
Miami, Florida

This week’s edition of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights features light middleweight prospect, Yudel Jhonson, 6-0, 4 KO’s, as he takes on Juliano Ramos, 16-3, 13 KO’s. Jhonson has been taking on experienced opposition and has won his last three bouts by first round knockout, making his transition to the professional ranks and sitting down on his punches. Ramos has lost whenever he has stepped up, losing by stoppage to Kermit Cintron and Mike Jones. The majority of his victories are over terrible opposition, and he will have to be very careful with the knockout-minded Jhonson on Friday night.

Also on the card is the power-punching Puerto Rican welterweight, Kenny Galarza, 13-0, 13 KO’s, as he takes on the undefeated Brad Solomon, 11-0, 4 KO’s, in a ten round bout. Galarza has proven to be dangerous early and late, winning some of his bouts in the opening rounds and scoring some of them as late as the tenth. No name on his record sticks out but there has been a consistent move up in level of competition as he proceeds with his career. Solomon is another fighter that has taken on a lot of career losers, but has also been stepping up his level of competition in recent fights. This is a big outing for both men, testing their skills against another young and undefeated opponent.


Jahnsportforum, Neubrandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern,Germany

The IBF Middleweight Title will be decided as former champion, Roman Karmazin, 40-3-1, 26 KO’s, faces off against Sebastian Sylvester, 33-3, 16 KO’s. Karmazin is 37 years old and seems well beyond his better years. He has won four straight since his knockout loss to Alex Bunema in 2008, but he has been dropped in two of the four fights, coming from behind to stop Dionisio Miranda in his last fight.

Sylvester, the 29 year old champion, has won four in a row himself, since losing a wide decision to Felix Sturm. He’s won two of the four by knockout and as gutsy as Karmazin is, his chin does seem to be getting fragile in his old age and I would not be surprised if Sylvester lands a shot to put him out to defend his title.

New York City – Yankee Stadium

At one time, Miguel Cotto, 34-2, 27 KO’s, was one of the biggest names in the sport. Filling in the gap left by an exiting Felix Trinidad, Cotto had a large following from Puerto Rico and an impressive following in the rest of the world. There was often talk of a showdown with Floyd Mayweather, JR., both undefeated at the time, but it never materialized. Cotto forged on and defeated some very good fighters along the way.

In 2004, Cotto would pick up the vacant WBO Light Welterweight Title with a stoppage of Kelson Pinto and defended it successfully six times before making the move up to welterweight. Cotto would stop Carlos Quintana to win the vacant WBA Title, and defend that four times before facing off against Antonio Margarito, a fight that would put the first blemish on his record and also change him as a person inside of the ring. He has gone 2-1, 1 KO, since that defeat, but the question is at this point: What does he have left?

This Saturday on HBO, Cotto will take on the lightly regarded WBA Light Middleweight Champion, Yuri Foreman, 28-0, 8 KO’s. Foreman will be making his first defense since he upset Daniel Santos in his last fight to capture the title.

There are many that see this as a safe fight for Cotto, a chance for him to rebuild his career and have at title around his waist, but Foreman has other plans and may be taking this fight at the right time. He’s beaten up one spent force in Santos, and he now intends to send another perceived spent force out of the game Saturday night. There are many questions surrounding this bout, all of which will hopefully be answered on Saturday night.

Is Cotto shot? The biggest and most important question going into this fight is the status of Miguel Cotto. He has been in many grueling wars and has taken plenty of punishment throughout his career, including his last fight, a TKO loss to Manny Pacquiao. Cotto’s psyche seems to be shattered after his devastating loss to Antonio Margarito in 2008.

It is a fair conclusion that Margarito had loaded gloves when he fought Cotto. When examining the damage to the face of Cotto and the images of the hand wraps after the fight with the strange substance apparent on the raised fists of Margarito, it is obvious that it was not a fair contest. Cotto looked like he went through a windshield after getting hit with those punches, and he hasn’t been the same since and will most likely never return to form.

Cotto beat up Michael Jennings, struggled to get a split decision over Joshua Clottey, and was hammered by Pacquiao. The Pacquiao fight was another bout where Cotto was beaten rather severely over the course of a fight before being stopped. He’s got a big heart but it may have cost him in the end.

Miguel Cotto isn’t totally shot, but he is not what he once was either. There is some doubt within him that is evident as he fights, a hesitation that cost him dearly with Manny Pacquiao. That hesitation may be the ticket for a Foreman victory if he can outwork Cotto.

Is Foreman ready for Cotto? Foreman has had 28 fights but has not faced anyone in the same universe as Miguel Cotto. There are some recognizable names on his record. He faced Cornelius Bundrage in 2009, and after winning the first three rounds, it was cut short due to a cut and resulted in a no contest. Foreman has beaten Andrey Tsurkan by split decision and Anthony Thompson, also by split decision. His style isn’t pretty and without a big punch, he hasn’t captured the imagination of the public. The biggest name on his record is Daniel Santos, and Santos really had nothing left and looked very soft when he stepped into the ring. To Foreman’s credit, he took advantage of it and won.

Foreman is as ready for Cotto as he will ever be at this point and it’s a smart gamble. He’s expected to lose, so if he does, it’s not a huge blow to his career. If Cotto is not able to pull the trigger which was one of his problems in the Pacquiao fight, there is a good chance that Foreman will outwork him and take the upset decision win.

The experience of Cotto is going to be a factor as well. He has been in the ring with Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao, Paulie Malignaggi, Lovemore N’Dou, Joshua Clottey, DeMarcus Corley, Carlos Quintana, and Antonio Margarito. He has fought and beaten the best. His only true defeat was to Pacquiao, the arguably best fighter currently in the game. That laundry list of high quality opponents means a lot but with so many of those encounters being wars, the wear and tear on the body of Cotto may actually hurt him in the long run and perhaps hurt him going into Saturday’s fight.

Foreman is eager to prove he belongs and if he can take the punches of Cotto, he’s got one heck of a chance to pull and upset and hold onto his title. Cotto is a big puncher but if he’s damaged goods, this could be his farewell to boxing. It’s an attractive fight with a lot of drama.

On the undercard, light middleweight Vanes Martirosyan, 27-0, 17 KO’s, takes on Joe Green, 22-0, 14 KO’s, in a ten round NABF Light Middleweight Title bout.

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