Weekend Review: No losers in New York
Miguel Cotto proved by stopping Yuri Foreman on Saturday that he isn't quite finished as an important fighter. Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank
Miguel Cotto: The night was carefully orchestrated for the Puerto Rican star, whose losses to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao left his career as an elite fighter in question. He fought in front of supportive fans at Yankee Stadium. He fought a decent but beatable foe in Yuri Foreman. And he fought for a fourth major title in third division, which would add a little to his credibility. Things went well, the bizarre elements of the fight aside. Cotto, who has been working with Emanuel Steward, looked sharp. He threw his jab with authority, boxed well and landed hard, accurate punches. He also ended the fight with a left hook to the gut that was reminiscent of his younger days. Thus, he remains in position for more big fights and big paydays even if he’s not quite the fighter he once was.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Yuri Foreman: The knee injury was obviously painful but also the best thing that could’ve happened to the Israeli in terms of how he’s perceived. The fight seemed to be going in the direction of Cotto, who probably would’ve won a clear decision if it went the distance. Foreman would’ve lost his title and very likely slipped into relative obscurity. As it turned out, his courageous instinct to continue fighting when others might’ve quit undoubtedly won him admirers. It takes guts to face a fighter of Cotto’s caliber on only one good leg when your movement is your best weapon. And Foreman was in the fight before he twisted his knee in the seventh round. One judge and I gave him two of the first six rounds. He was sad after the fight, having lost for the first time, but he has reason to be proud of himself.
The eighth round: One never knows what boxing will throw us. In this case, it was a towel. The fight seemed to be over when a white towel came flying into the ring in the eighth round, as the participants stopped boxing and people filled the ring. Not so fast, though. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. apparently was told that someone outside Foreman’s corner had tossed the towel – which ring announcer Michael Buffer relayed to the crowd — after which Mercante ordered everyone out of the ring and the fight to continue. Moments later, if my timeframe is correct, a replay showed conclusively that it was trainer Joe Grier who threw in the towel, which seemed to upset Mercante because he had been given false information. Still, the fight went on until Cotto ended it with the body shot. Afterward, it was the towel – not Cotto’s victory or Foreman’s courage – that people were talking about.
Arthur Mercante Jr.: Mercante, one of the best referees in the business and in the mold of his famous father, handled a very strange situation about as well it could’ve been. He made the tough (and rare) decision to restart a fight that appeared to be over because he believed it shouldn’t have been stopped. Foreman was hobbling, yes, but he was fighting back bravely in an effort to keep his title. “There was no need to stop the fight. They were in the middle of a great fight,” Mercante said. Cotto in the ninth round made the decision to end the fight with his body shot, which hurt Foreman badly. Mercante didn’t hesitate to stop it this time. Kudos to Mercante on a job well done.
Vanes Martirosyan: The former U.S. Olympian seems to have all the tools necessary to succeed – the amateur pedigree, the athleticism — and one of the best trainers in the world, Freddie Roach. Still, something is missing. The Southern Californian outboxed a good boxer in Joe Greene to win a unanimous decision on the Foreman-Cotto undercard and remain undefeated, a solid step forward in his quest to win a major title. However, once again, there was nothing special about him or his performance. He’ll probably win a belt in the thin division at some point but, unless he takes his game up a notch or two, I would be surprised if he became a truly elite fighter.
Joe Greene: “Mean” is probably not an appropriate alias for Greene. The quick southpaw from Queens is very difficult to hit, as Martirosyan discovered in victory on Saturday, but he offers little in the way of offense. He landed only 87 punches over 10 rounds, a paltry 8.7 per round. He threw 222 jabs but landed only 29, a 13-percent connect rate, against an opponent who is no defensive wizard. That won’t cut it against the best fighters in and around his weight class. I think Greene proved against a very good opponent that he has some ability. Now, if he hopes to accomplish anything meaningful, he must land punches with same purpose that he avoids them.
Manny Pacquiao: Pacquiao was formally named both Fighter of the Year (for the third time) and Fighter of the Decade at the Boxing Writers Association of America awards dinner on Friday in New York City. The newly elected congressman in his region of the Philippines went 8-1-1 against future or borderline Hall of Famers Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. Pacquiao also won four major titles in four weight divisions during the decade. I’ve said this before: Let’s enjoy him while we can; he won’t be around forever.
MOST DESERVED II
Freddie Roach: The architect of Pacquiao’s success has now won four Trainer of the Year awards, two more than anyone else since the award was inaugurated in 1989. Roach’s legendary mentor, Eddie Futch, won it twice. And Roach might not have won the award for the last time. A Pacquiao victory over Floyd Mayweather Jr., if the fight happens, almost assuredly would earn the award for the fifth time. Roach, a capable, but limited fighter, will go down as one of the greatest trainers ever. Futch would be very proud if he were alive today.
Bert Sugar: “Yuri Foreman has big matzo balls.”
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]