Head-to-head: Cotto vs. Clottey
The image of Miguel Cotto on the RingTV.com homepage was painted by Tyler Streeter, an emerging artist who greatly admires the sport of boxing. He began drawing and painting fighters at the age of 10 after watching Marvelous Marvin Hagler fight Sugar Ray Leonard. The chemistry between Tyler Streeter and the “Sweet Science” is evident in his paintings. Reflecting the beautifully sharpened minds and courageous hearts of these modern day warriors, Streeter brings to life the mental anguish and physical stamina unique to boxing. Streeter lives in Las Vegas. You can view his works at www.tylerstreeter.com.
MIGUEL COTTO vs. JOSHUA CLOTTEY
When: Saturday, June 13
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
TV: HBO, 7:35 p.m. PT/ 10:35 p.m. ET
Weight: Welterweight (147 pounds)
Title(s) at stake: WBO
Also on the card: Ivan Calderon vs. Rodel Mayol, 12 rounds, junior flyweight (for THE RING/WBO titles); Matt Korobov vs. Loren Myers, 6 rounds, middleweight; Rafael Guzman vs. Yogli Herrera, 6 rounds, featherweight.
Height / Reach: 5-7 / 67
Hometown: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Turned pro: 2001
Record: 33-1 (27 knockouts)
Trainer: Joe Santiago
The Ring rating: No. 2 welterweight
Titles: WBO junior welterweight (2004-06; vacated title to campaign at welterweight); WBA welterweight (2006-08; lost title to Antonio Margarito).
Biggest victories: Shane Mosley, Nov. 10, 2007, UD 12; Carlos Quintana, Dec. 2, 2006, RTD 5 (wins vacant WBA welterweight title); Zab Judah, June 9, 2007, TKO 11; Ricardo Torres, Sept. 24, 2005, KO 7; Paul Malignaggi, June 10, 2006, UD 12.
Only loss: Antonio Margarito, July 26, 2008, TKO 11 (lost WBA welterweight title).
Height / reach: 5-8 / 70
Hometown: Bronx, New York
Turned pro: 1995
Record: 32-2 (20 knockouts)
Trainers: Kwame Asante and Jose De Leon
The Ring rating: No. 4 welterweight
Titles: IBF welterweight (2008-09; stripped of title for failing to beat the deadline to defend against the IBF’s mandatory contender).
Biggest victories: Zab Judah, Aug. 2, 2008, TD 9 (won vacant IBF welterweight title); Diego Corrales, April 7, 2007, UD 10; Richar Gutierrez, June 29, 2006, MD 12; Shamone Alvarez, Dec. 20, 2007, UD 12.
Losses: Antonio Margarito, Dec. 2, 2006, UD 12 (for Margarito’s WBO welterweight title); Carlos Baldomir, Nov. 20, 1999, DQ 11 (for intentional headbutts).
Skills: Both Cotto and Clottey are skilled boxers who work off sharp jabs and deliver their power punches with solid technique and leverage. The welterweight standouts have aggressive sides to their boxing style, but neither fighter is ever reckless or sloppy. Both are known for their accuracy. However, Cotto is more versatile. The Puerto Rican boxer-puncher had a far more extensive amateur career that has enhanced his ability to cope with different styles by a variety of means. Cotto is a formidable pressure fighter, who can also dissect and breakdown an opponent with counter punches from the outside, and even stick-and-move effectively when he needs to. Clottey has one style, that of a straight-up stalker who boxes economically from a high guard.
Power: Both welterweights are heavy handed, but Cotto’s compact frame and penchant for body punching has resulted in a higher KO percentage (79.41 to 52.63 for Clottey) and, on average, more damage dished out to his opponents. It should be noted that only Cotto’s last seven bouts have been in the welterweight division and although five of those bouts ended in knockouts, most were late-round technical stoppages or between-round retirements. However, Cotto dished out considerable punishment in those fights. Clottey is also a punishing fighter, but to a far less degree. The Ghanaian has only registered one knockout in his last 10 bouts, a fifth-round TKO of Jose Luis Cruz, who was in the fight and never off his feet.
Speed and athletic ability: Clottey has a clear edge in this department. While Cotto is a capable athlete and by no means “slow”, his reflexes and hand speed are a notch below Clottey’s. Both Cotto and Clottey neutralized Antonio Margarito’s aggression in the early rounds of their bouts with the Mexican mauler. Cotto utilized lateral movement, but Clottey did it by standing right in front of Margarito consistently beating him to the punch with quick, accurate combinations.
Defense: Both Cotto and Clottey are tough guys, but neither fighter prides himself on taking punches. They don’t like to get hit, however, because of his more offensive-minded approach in the ring, Cotto tends to absorb more clean punches than Clottey, who has a more reserved style that relies on high guard “peek-a-boo” defense. Clottey keeps his chin tucked, blocks punches well with his gloves and forearms and seldom drops his hands.
Experience: Clottey turned pro six years earlier than Cotto and has four more bouts, but the Puerto Rican’s career has been guided by Top Rank, which develops talent better than any other U.S.-based promotional company. Thus, the overall quality of Cotto’s opposition trumps that of Clottey. Cotto has faced 10 fighters who were former, current or future titleholders. Clottey has faced four.
Chin: Clottey has never been down or in serious trouble in 38 professional bouts. Cotto can’t say that. Cotto was seriously rocked in his bouts with DeMarcus Corely and Zab Judah. He was rocked and dropped during his war with Ricardo Torres. Margarito put him down and stopped him. Judah and Margarito never had Clottey in trouble. (Although some would argue that Margarito’s victory over Cotto is at least questionable following his license revocation for attempting to load his gloves before his fight with Shane Mosley.)
Conditioning: Clottey is known to run as many as 10-12 miles a day in preparation for his fights. Perhaps he has to run that much in order to boil his densely muscled frame down to 147 pounds (he is rumored to walk around at a solid 170 pounds). Cotto also has to train very hard to make the welterweight limit. He practically starved himself to make 140 pounds. He eats more and he eats healthier now that he’s at welterweight, which enables him to train even harder. Neither fighter has ever appeared out of shape or drastically ran out of gas during a distance fight, but both tend to fade a bit over the second half of a 12-round bout.
Wear and tear: Clottey’s older, he has more fights and his been a pro since 1995, however he’s absorbed less punishment throughout his career than Cotto has, in part because he hasn’t faced as many top contenders and in part because he takes less chances in the ring. Cotto’s only 28, and he probably still has a few years of his prime left, but his tough fights with Torres, Judah, Mosley and Margarito have to have taken their toll.
Corner: Cotto’s volatile relationship with his uncle and longtime trainer Evangelista Cotto has played out in the Puerto Rican media like a reality “novela”. They almost come to blows on national TV a few years ago when Cotto didn’t approve of the way his uncle worked the corner of his brother, Jose, during a title fight. Since then, the rumor was that Miguel and Evangelista merely tolerated each other’s presence in the gym, and rarely spoke. The feud came to a boiling point in April when an argument-turned-spat spilled out of the gym. Cotto fired Evangelista, who punched his nephew in the face. Cotto returned home, but Evangelista followed and tossed a brick at Cotto, missing his nephew but breaking the window of the fighter’s new Jaguar. Cotto replaced his uncle with Joe Santiago, his team nutritionist who has no world-class training experience.
Outcome: This fight will answer the question how much the brutal beating Cotto absorbed from Margarito last July took out of him. Cotto’s last fight, against Michael Jennings in February, was agaisnt an opponent who was too soft to serve as any kind of gauge. Nobody can call Clottey “soft”. This is going to be a hard fight for both combatants, although it will likely start as a tit-for-tat boxing match with both fighters looking to establish their jabs. As the fight progresses, Cotto’s lateral movement and choice body shots will bother Clottey, but the Ghanaian’s turtle-like defense and quicker hands will give the Puerto Rican problems in spots. The middle-to-late rounds should feature some hot exchanges as both fighters will try to press their advantages down the stretch. The hunch here is that Cotto will know when to exchange and when to stick-and-move on the rather flat-footed Clottey and that his more consistent offense will be rewarded by the judges (who could be swayed by the crowd, which will overwhelmingly be in favor of Cotto).
Prediction: Cotto by hard-fought decision, roughly seven rounds to five.