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Dougie’s FAT Friday Mailbag

04
Jun

MIGUEL COTTO

What's good Dougie,
I just read an article where they were talking about Miguel Cotto may already be a shot fighter. I don't necessarily disagree, but if it's true, let's give the man his due. He's fought nothing but bad mofo's and anybody that knows anything about the current state of boxing would be an idiot to argue against that. In the last few years he's fought Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, and the Pac-Man, all at welterweight! And now he's fighting Yuri Foreman at 154 pounds!

As a fan, I've rooted for and against him in the past (I partied w/ you all at The Rouge the night before the Margarito fight). But I've always tried not to miss his fights because he always comes to fight. Gotta respect that. That's why I'll be rooting for him this weekend. What say you, Dougie? — Miguel, LBC

I won’t be rooting for either fighter because I like Foreman and I think he deserves whatever status/accolades he can get for beating Cotto if he can pull off the upset, but I have a special respect for the Puerto Rican vet. Like you stated, he never ducked tough opposition and he always came to fight.

Cotto’s got a special place in my heart because I’ve covered his much of his career, every stage of his impressive assent from prospect to headliner, from ringside.

I saw his sixth pro fight at Staples Center (on the Roy Jones Jr.-Julio Gonzalez undercard in 2001 — and vividly recall Top Rank’s Todd duBoef arguing about Cotto’s ability with Steve Kim and other members of the L.A. media, who were all very high on one Fransico Bojado at the time, and for the record, I was the one guy who liked what he saw in the Puerto Rican prospect), watched him go developmental rounds with vets Justin Juuko and John Brown on Top Rank’s Las Vegas undercards in 2002, witnessed him breakdown his first former titleholder (Cesar Bazan) to gain fringe contender status in 2003 (on the undercard of Juan Manuel Marquez-Manuel Medina in a ballroom in the Mandalay Bay), covered the Vegas fights — against Demetrius Ceballos, Victoriano Sosa and Lovemore Ndou — that earned him contender status, traveled to Puerto Rico to see him win his first title (against amateur rival Kelson Pinto) in 2004, saw him defend the belt in impressive fashion against Randall Bailey in Vegas, ventured to the East Coast (A.C. and NYC) to cover his well-attended victories over welterweight contenders Carlos Quintana, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley and Joshua Clottey from 2006 and 2009, and of course, I was there for his downfalls against Antonio Margarito (and for the record I picked Cotto to beat the Mexican mauler) and Manny Pacquiao.

Whew. It’s been a long, entertaining and compelling ride.

And it might not be over. Given the experience Cotto has from the aforementioned fights, who’s to say he can cut the ring off on Foreman and chop the junior middleweight down in front of his adoring fans at Yankee Stadium?

FOREMAN VS. COTTO

How do you get the main event and fight for a belt after getting destroyed in your last outing? This fight is a joke. — Lance

I disagree. Foreman just won his 154-pound title and was due a voluntary defense. Cotto, who just happens to be a bona fide attraction in the area where Saturday’s bout takes place, is as worthy to defend it against as anyone in the WBA’s top 10.

In fact, I think Cotto is MORE worthy than anyone else the sanctioning organization rates at junior middleweight — Austin Trout, Nelson Linares, Zaurbek Baysangurov, Joachim Alcine, Daniel Santos, Vanes Martirosyan, Joe Greene, and Pawel Wolak.

Trout, Martirosyan and Greene are basically prospects (and Martirosyan and Greene face each other in Saturday’s co-feature, anyway). Linares, Baysangurov and Wolak haven’t defeated anyone of note. Alcine is scheduled to fight Alfredo Angulo next month. And Santos just got beat by Foreman.

So what’s wrong with Cotto? So what it if he got beat by Manny Pacquiao in his last bout? Is that something to be ashamed of? Isn’t Pacquiao picking up the “Fighter of the Decade” award from the Boxing Writers Association of America tonight?

JUNE 5 STYLE MATCHUP

What's good Dougie? Happy June. I hope this email hasn't been sent too late to make your Friday Mailbag. Let me start this off with a disclaimer: I like Cotto but I am not a Cotto “fan.” These are purely objective views. My question (or maybe it's more of a comment) is regarding this Saturday's bout between Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman. You wrote an excellent article about Miguel Cotto's Hall of fame chances but I have to disagree with you on one thing. You said, “Those picking Foreman to win do so with Cotto’s brutal late-rounds stoppages to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao in mind as much as the style matchup, which doesn’t appear to favor the veteran.” Really? Why do people think Foreman can outbox Cotto? Who has ever done that to Cotto? The only people who beat him (Pacquiao and Margarito) or gave him trouble (Mosley, Judah, and Torres) were high volume punchers who packed a punch. Guys that tried to outbox him (Malignaggi and Quintana) figured out quickly that they had a problem on their hands.

Who has Foreman fought that makes people give him the “style advantage”? Are people doing this solely on Foreman's height advantage? I'm sure it may give Cotto some trouble early on but you have to believe that a fighter as versatile as Cotto is gonna use his stiff jab, excellent body punching, and underrated footwork to eventually get to the Rabbi and break him down. Foreman's footwork? Puh-leeaassee!!!! He's okay but I don't think he's good enough to stay away from Miguel all night. Cotto cuts the ring off very well.

Also, I think people are pulling the trigger in saying that Cotto is damaged goods after the Margarito fight. I'm not saying he isn't. I'm saying that we don't know. People look to his win over Clottey as proof that he lost a step but I blame Cotto's reluctance to throw and finish Clottey when he had him hurt on that nasty cut over the Puerto Rican's eye. A cut like that can build a lot of apprehension in a fighter because he is thinking about the counter shot he will endure once he opens up. I strongly believe that if he didn't have that cut over his eye Cotto would have stopped Clottey when he had him hurt and on the ropes. The same people who point to this victory as proof that Cotto has lost a step point to his loss to Pacquiao. But the truth is that he was in the ring with one of the greatest fighters of the past 30 years. Had Cotto never even met Margarito in the ring, I think the result against Pacquiao would have still been the same.

Keep up the great work Dougie. You gonna be at the Andre Ward-Allan Green fight in a few weeks? If so, I hope to see you there. Peace. — J-Nava (Chi-town/Frisco)

I do plan to cover Ward-Green. I love the Bay Area and the boxing community up there (which reminds me that I need to send out my media credential application and book my flight and hotel room for that trip). If you see me at the fight, don’t be stranger.

Regarding my recent Cotto article, you’re not really disagreeing with me, you’re disagreeing with those who think Cotto will lose to Foreman because of a combination of wear and tear and the style of the matchup.

Personally, I don’t think Cotto is damaged goods, yet. However, I do think Foreman’s constant movement will trouble him. Cotto did indeed cut the ring off well against Quintana and Malignaggi, but those boxers don’t move as much as Foreman does. Foreman never stops! He reminds me of an early-1980s break dancer (you remember that little “uprock” dance they used to do before spinning on their backs or heads?). Foreman should enter the ring with a big boom box wearing parachute pants.

I digress. Bottom line, Foreman employs constant lateral movement, which does frustrate Cotto (see his fight with Oktay Urkal for an example of this). Foreman also has fast hands. I’m not saying Cotto can’t get in close and hurt the taller, rangier man to the body, but who’s to say the Puerto Rican will be as strong or powerful at 154 pounds as he was at 140 and 147?

Those picking Cotto (who is a slight betting favorite) to win can ask if Foreman can take his pressure for 12 rounds. Foreman has dealt with pressure fighters in the past (Andrey Tsurkan and James Moore come to mind), but those guys aren’t in Cotto’s class. If Cotto can reach Foreman’s chin with regularity we’ll find out how what the future rabbi is really made of.

These questions are what makes tomorrow’s matchup an interesting one.

THANK YOU MIGUEL

Doug,
For my money, I’d rather watch Miguel Cotto in the ring than almost anybody else. He’s never backed away from a challenge and he’s never disrespected the sport or the fans. He gives all that he can physically give in both victory and defeat and is glad to give an interview regardless of the outcome. He’s not perfect in the ring and his tendency to want to mix it up can cost him rounds and even fights, but in the end if you love watching boxing, I don’t understand how you can’t be a fan of the Boricua Bomber.

He’s what’s good and right about the sport. He doesn’t have a big mouth, he dosn’t s__t talk his opponents and has never looked out of shape in a fight. He doesn’t jump promoters or stall negotiations over money which is rare these days. I know it’s clear I’m a “nuthugger” here (whatever) but I truly despise Margarito for the illegal beating he gave Miguel because we’re all pretty convinced here that he cheated. If that was the end of a “great” Miguel Cotto (I said it Bert Sugar, there, now you have someone who said he was ‘great’) then to lose him to the loaded hands of a dishonest fighter is such a travesty. To think of where he would be today if Antonio had fought a fair fight. I don’t have a problem with Cotto declining, as all fighters will, but I think the process was sped up tremendously and for that I feel cheated.

I used to root for Miguel to get knocked to the canvas but as time went on I realized that this guy was something special. Even if he wasn’t blessed with blazing hand speed or the best defense, he truly was something special. He’s a FIGHTER with more heart than nearly anyone he’s been in the ring with, and he has some pretty damn good skills as well if my memory serves me correctly. I think his biggest mistake of his career was staying with Evangilista for so long. After a certain point he couldn’t do anything to make him better and fighting Manny with Joe Santiago in the corner was a horrible decision.

I can't wait for Saturday night to see Miguel with Emanuel Steward in his corner. If Yuri pulls the upset and it’s the end of Miguel’s career, it will feel the same way as it did when Arturo Gatti was stopped by Alfonzo Gomez (God that’s sad to type).

He’s one of those guysÔǪ. He may not be HOF worthy to some, but to others the story can’t be told without a mention of Miguel’s accomplishments and plights.

Keep fighting the good fight Doug! — Seth, Houston, Texas

Thanks for writing, Seth. It’s nice to see that Cotto has diehard fans outside of Puerto Rico and NYC. He’s earned everyone’s respect, in my opinion.

It’s been special covering his career and writing about him but what’s truly been an honor is witnessing his valor during his fights and his dignity before and afterward live and up close.

I hope Steward can tighten up his defense and punching technique as much as possible. A knockout victory would be particularly electric in front of 25,000-30,000 (mostly Puerto Rican) fans, given the many setbacks Cotto has had to deal with lately.

And who knows? If Cotto wins tomorrow night a revenge rematch with Margarito could be a possibility in the near future (although many would question if the Mexican deserves the opportunity). You might be one of those against that particular fight happening, but I know you would probably plunk down some of your hard-earned cash to watch Cotto put a beatdown on Margarito.

The showdowns I’d like to see Cotto engage in if he wins Foreman’s 154-pound belt are with Alfredo Angulo, Paul Williams, and James Kirkland if the tough Texan can get his career back on track.

ARUM, THE WORLD’S BOXING AMBASSADOR

Dougie,
Bob Arum has become the master of ethnic based promoting. He did a fantastic job with Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Philippines and now he has his eyes set on the Jewish population of New York city.

All the money and effort he is putting on Yuri better pay off. He only has a limited territory to promote the kid, due to the Sabbath he can only fight in the East Coast, unless Yahweh appears to him, burns another bush and proclaims Yuri immune to the tradition.

Arum is already claiming that the ancient Aztec god Quetzalcoatl came to him in a dream and told him that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is the second coming of his father apparently Chavez Sr. has the record of breaking in virgins in Mexico.

Some people in the Puerto Rican community seem to think that there is a conflict of interestÔǪ. I tell them that Bob’s only interests are his ownÔǪ if he can exploit feeble minded xenophobes, then he can promote anyone that can stitch a flag on their trousers.

Maybe Arum as a farewell will give us a multi ethnic boxing card at Madison Square Garden. Can you imagine the riots Just the anthems will take 3 hours.

Anyway, it seems to me that by default Yuri is getting the notch on this one. This is a clear case of the taking credit away from a fighter translating into more credit to his opponent. I don’t know how much Cotto has leftÔǪ but for god’s sake, HBO doesn’t even have enough material on Yuri to make his “Greatest hits”. Even Andre Berto is getting his 3 minutes on HBO on Demand.

AnywayÔǪ love to hear what you have to say about the fight and what it means to the divisionÔǪ. Right now I have to go with Cotto on a tactical and somewhat boring UD. — Ernesto

Have you been hanging around Kirk from Arizona?

If the fight is tactical and boring I think Foreman is getting the nod. If Cotto wins, I see him doing so by knockout.

If Foreman wins I don’t think it will mean much for the division although I view him as a solid titleholder and a top five or six junior middleweight. I just don’t think he has crossover star appeal and I doubt he will stick around for much longer. Perhaps Arum can build him into a regional attraction. I think a title defense against Brooklyn native Sechew Powell could do OK at Madison Square Garden (in the WaMu Theater, and no, I don’t predict a Fight of the Year candidate with that one). If Kermit Cintron can get a few wins under his belt he would make for an attractive opponent for Foreman. (Perhaps Arum will start billing Foreman as the “Puerto Rican” assassin.) If Cotto loses in close or controversial fashion tomorrow, maybe a rematch will do business. I don’t know. I just don’t see a very high-profile title reign from Foreman, but I could be wrong.

If Cotto wins tomorrow, I think it will add some much needed star power to the 154-pound division. Cotto doesn’t just bring a name to the 154-pound weight class, he brings an entertaining style. There are a lot of pure boxers at junior middleweight (Foreman, Spinks, Dzinziruk, Powell) but not too many all-action fighters (Angulo, Williams).

Regarding Arum’s “ethic-based promoting,” that’s just part of his being an old-school promoter. The good part of Arum’s old-school upbringing is that he believes in promoting big events (outside of Las Vegas) and putting butts in the seats. The stadium and big arena fights he’s putting on this year (and his plans to continue doing so next year) is good for the sport. The ethnic slant to everything is good for some fighters (such as Chavez Jr.) in some areas of the sport, but it’s bad for others (such as Nonito Donaire and Brian Viloria).

You can’t pigeonhole all fighters into specific nationalities or cultures. Arum’s treatment of Donaire is a prime example. He wants to make the young man a Filipino attraction like a Manny Pacquiao Jr., but it’s not working and the talented boxer has fallen off the radar as a result. Instead of taking him back to the Philippines or shoving him into Las Vegas ballrooms and televising those fights on small “Pinoy Power” (or Pinoy Purgatory as Steve Kim calls them) PPV shows, Arum needs to promote him in his real home, the Bay Area. Donaire was born in the Philippines but he was raised in San Leandro. He currently lives in San Francisco. If he fought there or in Oakland or in San Jose he would draw very well. I think he could be a strong regional attraction, and race/nationality is only part of that equation. Yeah, Filipinos and Filipino-American would support him, but so would a lot of hardcore Bay Area fans of other backgrounds because Nonito is a local guy who kicks ass.

It’s not always about race and nationality. These days it’s more about the region that a fan grows up in and identifies with. There are a lot of Mexican and Mexican-American fans attending Dodger and Laker games, but how many of the players they’re cheering are from Mexico or of Mexican descent? It ain’t about race. It’s about city. Someone needs to tell Arum that. I’ll let you do that. Rumor has it he doesn’t talk to employees of THE RING.

OLYMPIC BOXING

Easy Dougie,
After reading the article about Vanes Martirosyan the Olympian, I decided to take a look at the full list of medal winners at the 2004 games and saw the following names: Gamboa, Rigondeaux, Khan, Dirrell, Ward, Solis, and finally Povetkin. That's a pretty tall order, and gave me an odd sense of hope for the future of boxing (for the record I love watching boxer/punchers more than sluggers).

So just I wanted to ask you what your opinion was on the above, and more importantly who from the 2008 Olympics stands out to you? (The only names I recognise are James DeGale and David Price, and that’s probably only because they're Brits). Also am I missing out any notable competitors from 2004 who didn't make the medal tally? Cheers. — Kartik

You skipped over the class of Mexico’s 2004 Olympic team: Abner Mares and Alfredo Angulo. I think both have bright futures, as the do the names you mentioned. Current light heavyweight beltholder Beibut Shumenov represented Kazakhstan in the 2004 Games. He’s a rugged physical specimen but I thought he was outboxed in his last fight (vs. the more experienced Gabriel Campillo).

I believe Ward, Khan, Mares and Angulo have crossover star potential, but they have to keep winning (or in the case of Angulo, make for great fights).

I don’t know of many standouts from the 2008 Games. Russian middleweight Matt Korobov looks good so far, very poised and focused and he’s got a good team with manager Cameron Dunkin, promoter Top Rank and trainer in Ken Adams. U.S. middleweight Shawn Estrada (of East L.A.) has got the size, strength and attitude to kick some ass but he hasn’t been in with decent enough pro competition for me to really gauge how good he is. The same thing can be said about U.S. heavyweight Deontay Wilder.

I like the Brits you mentioned, especially DeGale, who has the power, style and confidence to develop into a standout. I like how relaxed he is in the ring but can do without the showboating and Pernell Whitaker imitations (that dipsy-do crouch thing worked for Sweet Pea, who is 5-foot-5, but it’s not an ideal defensive tactic for a 6-foot tall super middleweight to employ). Price has decent technique and good poise but he’s kind of stiff looking, and a bit mechanical, but I guess he moves about pretty well for a 6-foot-8 heavyweight.

Of the 2008 Olympians I’ve mentioned, I think DeGale has the most star potential.

GYM NOTES

Hey Dougie,
I'm Robb, a short time reader just getting into your work, and suffice to say I like it a lot! I was wondering how often you do a Gym Notes type of article. I really enjoyed the one you recently wrote, as living north of Boston there aren't many serious gyms that I know of (I could be flat wrong though). This is just a random suggestion, since I liked the piece so much, how about a day long profile of one gym? Any of the three you visited for the last one would do, as there are established fighters and up and comers abound.

Not to spend too much time kissing up, but the piece reminded me a lot of AJ Liebling’s writing when he visited the now defunct Stillman's in NYC (with a little less personal stuff than he gave).

Anyways, keep up the good job writing and commenting on Fight Night Club! Best. — Robb

Thanks Robb. That’s very high praise. I can’t live up to it, but I’ll try!

That’s a good idea about spending an entire day at a gym. I might give that a try this summer. Wild Card, Fortune gym and the Maywood Boxing Club are perfect subjects because of the top talent that train there, but some lesser known (or lesser written about gyms) such as Oxnard’s La Colonia or the Coachella Boxing Club out in the Palm Springs desert area (two gyms I’ve never visited before but plan to) could also be interesting.

My goal is to do two Gym Notes features a month. Thanks again for the kind words.

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