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Dougie’s MASSIVE Monday Mail Bag

07
Jun

HAPPY FOR COTTO

Hey Dougie,
How are you? No doubt digesting another somewhat strange fight, along with Cintron-Williams this weekend's fight with Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman provided yet more bizarre drama. I'm happy for Cotto, I'd picked him to win this and I'm glad he's breathed life back into his career, although I feel very sorry for Foreman who was unfortunate in how the fight panned out.

Regarding your article on whether Cotto is destined for the IBHOF: Unless, as I suspect, modern fighters are viewed under a more critical microscope than the old-timers (very few guys are going to fight 100 fights nowadays), I really don't see why not. In 20 years I'll remember Cotto as an elite fighter who was willing to fight anybody and slotted into most peoples’ P4P lists over a number of years, a quality world champion who more often than not provided great entertainment, as well as a guy who was a national icon to his people. There are guys with a lot less talent who sit proudly in the Hall of Fame.

Detractors point out bad losses to Margarito and Paquiao, calling his defeat to Margarito a flat out capitulation (loaded gloves or not) and that he had accepted his fate against Paquiao by the fourth round, but I say screw that, the poor guy was taking severe punishment and probably did the right thing. Similar accusations can be more famously pointed at Roberto Duran (more fairly), as well as Izzy Vazquez (not by me in his case), but no one is going to question their credentials so I think it's unfair to judge Cotto differently. He has also appeared a little vulnerable throughout his career, but then not everyone is Marvin Hagler and it's not like he's been afraid to put it to the test.

Maybe I'm a soft touch, I'd happily see Arturo Gatti in there too, but I genuinely feel if Cotto had compiled his slate anytime from the 1880s to the 1980s then this question would not even exist, he'd be a shoo-in. All the best Doug, keep up the good work and you might make it too! — Ewan

LOL. I better get crackin’ at writing some half-decent columns and feature stories, then.

If Cotto had “compiled his slate” in the 1880s to the 1980s his career would be finished and thus easier to put in its proper perspective. Unless you’re talking about an elite fighter who wins most if not all of his big fights and is literally breaking all-time records with the number of title defenses he makes, like a Bernard Hopkins or Ricardo Lopez, or with the number of belts he wins in various weight classes, like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., you’re not going to find a lot of boxing folk who will deem an active fighter a first-ballot hall of famer.

That said, as someone who receives a ballot from both the International and World boxing hall of fames and has voted every year for the past 10, I can tell you that Cotto will receive a check mark from me. I don’t know if he’ll get my vote the first time I see his name on the ballot — as both Bert Sugar and Cliff Rold pointed out during my interviews with them for the hall of fame worthy piece I did on Cotto last week, there are many deserving fighters from previous decades, such as Harry Jeffra, who are still not enshrined — but I know the Puerto Rican star will eventually get my nod.

Who knows, though? Cotto’s career is not over. Maybe he’ll do something at junior middleweight over the next two years that will earn him “first-ballot” induction status. If boxing writers learned one thing from Saturday’s fight it’s not to count the man from Caguas, Puerto Rico out.

OVER-GLORIFIED FIGHT

Dougie:
Cotto vs Foreman reminded me about that satire boxing movie with Samuel Jackson and Damon Wayans (Great White Hype? or something like that). I think HBO overglorified the fight.

In reality, I saw Cotto look really good against a guy he was supposed to beat and supposed to look good doing it. In that sense, I really think Foreman was out of his league or skill level, but I did appreciate his courage.

I don't think Cotto would fare well against Sergio Martinez, but I would love to see a Cotto vs Cintron matchup. What do you think? — Christian Formby

I think Cintron needs a solid victory or two before he can be viewed as formidable challenger to Cotto, but if he does that — especially if he gets back to his KO ways — I think that would make for a fascinating all-Puerto Rican matchup. Cintron’s height, reach, power, and continued improvement under Ronnie Shields would make it an interesting fight. The fact that Steward, who used to train Cintron, is now with Cotto is an added story line.

I think Cotto would be in over his head with Martinez, but I feel that most of the 154-pound division would be at a disadvantage against the reigning middleweight champ. It doesn’t matter what you and I think, anyway. Bob Arum says Martinez isn’t well-enough known to merit being a Cotto “opponent.” (Watch part one of Bill Emes’ post-fight press conference video on RingTV to hear it from the horse’s mouth.) The Big Bob Man says Cotto’s next outings have to be pay-per-view-level fights so the young veteran can get paid what he deserves.

Regarding Saturday’s bout, I agree that on paper Cotto figured to outclass Foreman (and I should note that the junior middleweight titleholder was a 2-to-1 underdog), but we had no idea how much the slight betting favorite had left after his recent punishing fights (vs. Pacquiao, Clottey and Margarito). And it was also Cotto’s first bout at 154 pounds, so there were some X-factors going into Saturday’s bout that put the outcome in question.

I don’t know if HBO over-glorified the bout. The broadcasters just seemed to be in a very positive mood Saturday night. They liked what they saw from both combatants in the main event.

Maybe they were just elated to do a major bout in the NYC area and at Yankee Stadium. The city is a special place this time of year.

By the way, the Great White Hype is a corny comedy in many respects but it’s also an underrated boxing flick. It nailed down some of the common ego pitfalls and politics of the industry and it was blessed with more than a few standout acting performances by a surprisingly talented cast.

MERCANTE'S MESS

Hey Dougie,
I was just wondering what your take was regarding the actions of Arthur Mercante Jr.? I think he butts in way too much and didn't follow the rules. The towel came in, the commissioner came up on the apron and said the fight was over, the corner men entered the ring before Mercante called time, which would be an automatic DQ. Note to Arthur Mercante Jr. – just because your father was a great referee doesn't make you special.

Also who would you like to see Cotto fight next? Peace. — Adam, L.A.

I didn’t have a problem with Mercante’s officiating Saturday night. I think he’s done a good job in previous Cotto bouts (vs. Zab Judah and Joshua Clottey) and I thought he was fine at Yankee Stadium.

From my POV, Mercante followed the rules and kept his head during a moment of chaos (which is a regular occurrence in boxing). According to the Unified Rules of Boxing, only the referee can stop the bout. Yes, the corner had seen enough and wanted to end it, but during the heat of battle, it was unclear who tossed the towel into the ring. Mercante’s focus was on the fighter, who wanted to continue and had yet to be physically overwhelmed by his opponent. Now, when the towel came flying in, everyone had an immediate reaction to it because of what that act signifies in boxing. The fighters thought the bout was over. So did their corners, who immediately stormed the ring. But it wasn’t. The referee didn’t wave it off. The referee made a judgment call. He believed Foreman was able enough to defend himself, at least until the end of the eighth round, and my guess is that Mercante felt the defending champ had the right (and dignity) to go out on his shield if that’s what he wanted to do. So he tossed everyone but the fighters out of the ring and Foreman and Cotto resumed their fight. In those few minutes, from the first time Foreman went down from the knee injury in the eighth to the knockdown from Cotto’s liver shot early in the ninth, we got to see what kind of character the now-former titleholder has.

The fighter I want to see Cotto take on next is THE RING’s No. 4-rated junior middleweight Alfredo Angulo. I can’t imagine that matchup not delivering pure action and excitement for fans.

However, Arum says he’s looking for pay-per-view worthy matchups for his Puerto Rican star, so with that in mind, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Cotto-Mosley rematch at 154 pounds.

NEXT FOR COTTO?

First: Didn't see that coming. Not Cotto effectively out-boxing Foreman, not Foreman not able to establish the jab consistently enough to control Cotto, or of course the bizarre ending. That's kind of a shame, because it overshadows Cotto's good work, and Foreman's show of courage to trade with Cotto even before his injury.

That said, what do you see next for Cotto. Here's a guy that fought everybody. Is there even any unfinished business that makes sense at 147? At 154 there are nightmare matchups for Cotto (Williams/Martinez) but do you see him… um… unifying belts against Corey Spinks (if he gets by Bundridge, or they ever actually fight?). Do guys like Cintron or Angulo or Dzinziruk figure into Cotto’s future? They may be the “top guys” in the division, but do they have enough name value/payday value to make it worth the risk? Foreman is one thing… but those are some bigger hitting guys that he's not going to walk through.

But at 147, there aren't a lot of great matchups either. Mayweather would eat him up, he already fought Mosley… which leaves Berto, pretty much.

And for Foreman? I think the term “Former World Champion” is something for him to be proud of, but if Cotto can walk him down and beat him up, he's got issues with most of the top 154 pounders for the rest of his career. He showed world-class heart, but I'm not too sure that he's anything but cannon-fodder for the top guys when he makes another run. To me, he seems like a top-10 guy who is more of a gate-keeper than a legitimate threat to win another title without skillful matchmaking and some luck. He's good… just not beats-the-top-5 good. You only get so many rusty, drained Daniel Santos title fights in a career.

Your thoughts? — JRT

I agree with your assessment of Foreman, but I won’t count him out of winning another title in this age of four “major” belts. It’s true you only get so many Santoses in title fights, but guess what? If Foreman were to fight Spinks in his very next fight (provided his knee doesn’t require major surgery), he’d probably get a “rusty, drained” version of the Next Generation Jinx, and I bet he’d outmaneuver and outhustle the once-slick southpaw vet.

I don’t think there’s any reason for Cotto to go back down to welterweight, not when he can entice the best of the 147-pound division to come up to junior middleweight to fight him, and I think he does have some unfinished business with Mosley, who many ringside members of the press thought held the Caguas Crusher to a draw (I wasn’t one of them).

I don’t know if Dzinziruk, Angulo or Cintron figure into Cotto’s future, but I hope the Mexican pressure fighter does. I seriously doubt Arum will let a tall, rangy, southpaw “master fencer” like Dzinziruk near his East Coast meal ticket. Cintron might be a possibility, but as I stated earlier, I doubt he’ll be viewed as a marketable opponent coming off that strange four-round technical split decision loss to Paul Williams.

COTTO-FOREMAN AFTERMATH

Hey Dougie,
Three quick questions in the aftermath of that odd ending to the fight:
1) What are your thoughts on Mercante's decision to let the fight go on? The HBO guys informed us that he acted according to the rules, but it seemed odd not to grant the corner their wish to stop the fight.
2) Where does Foreman go from here? I definitely loved his heart and hope to see him become more of the fighter he was with the bum knee rather than the dancer from the early rounds.
3) Where does Cotto go? I don't think he's got a shot in hell to beat Paul Williams or Sergio Martinez. A fight with Angulo would probably be an exciting one but perhaps still too much.

Keep up the good job. — Robb

Thanks Robb. I’ll answer your questions in order:

1)I was concerned about Foreman’s knee after his second slip to the canvas, but at the same time I was curious to see how he would react to that kind of extreme adversity and I was glad Mercante allowed the fight to continue, at least to the end of the eighth round. If the corner really wanted to stop the fight in the eighth round when they tossed in the towel then why did they allow Foreman to go out for the ninth round?
2)I think Foreman can make for a fun East Coast fight against Pawel Wolak, a popular New Jersey-based Pole who scored an entertaining decision over Ireland’s James Moore on Saturday’s non-televised undercard, and an interesting showdown with undefeated prospect Austin Trout (who happens to be the WBA’s No. 1 contender for some reason). If he can win a fight like that I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t get back into the title picture.
3)Cotto would likely be viewed as an underdog against Martinez and Williams. My guess is that a fight with Angulo would be even money or he’d be a slight betting favorite based on his name, experience and big-fight track record. However, Martinez might stay at middleweight. And despite P-Will’s striking height and reach advantages I think we all know that he’s not hard to find. The Manny Steward-trained version of Cotto boxes from an angle and is thus not as easy to tag as the squared-up Joe Santiago/Evangelista Cotto version. Given Cotto’s new-found confidence and improved technique under Steward, plus his strong left hand/educated jab and underrated footwork, I would not count him out versus Williams. I think he definitely has the technique and boxing ability to outclass Angulo, but the Mexican’s chin, pressure, volume punching, and stamina would make it a competitive fight. I don’t care to pontificate on who has the edge in that fight — I just want to see it. I’d also like to see Cotto vs. Luis Collazo, because I’ve never covered an all-Puerto Rico matchup in NYC and I think it would be a good fight. When has Collazo not been in a good scrap?

STILL NOT SOLD ON COTTO

Having watched the Cotto-Foreman fight I am pretty sure there is something left in the tank as far as Cotto is concerned… What was encouraging was the steady use and effectiveness of the jab and Cotto’s footwork… Manny steward appears to have corrected some of Cotto’s probs…

However, I still don't see him being competitive with the top 147/154 guys… I'd hate to see Floyd, Manny, Williams or Sergio Martinez in there with Cotto… The thought is frightening… But a rematch with Shane at 154 for Cotto’s belt would be compelling, and would likely be a competitive fight too… Another one would be Cotto facing Berto at 147 for Berto’s belt… I think that would either allow Berto to step up or would set Cotto up for a bigger fight…

As for Foreman, he was nothing special to my eye… A guy a lot of welters could beat, and a fighter with no hope against the cream of the 154-pound division… Foreman needs to learn to sit down on his punches… He landed some clean rights on Cotto but they had the effect of clearing the sweat off Cotto’s brow and little more…

And lastly, a comment on Bob Arum… Last time I checked, people go to fights to watch fighters, not admire the architecture… The Arum stadium tour is starting to get annoying… I don't have a problem with Cotto getting a bit of a gimme, as Foreman put up a smidgeon more fight than reality “star” Alfonzo Gomez, but he isn’t fooling anyone and the fact that only approximately 20,000 of the 30,000 tix for this fight sold, is a sign that Bob has fooled nobody…

And listening to Arum threaten to put Manny in there with Margarito or Cotto again shows that he is doing his part to run the sport into the ground… If Bob has his way I am sure he will ram Clottey down our collective throats one more time in a big prize fight and dare us to look away in doing so… Ugh.

Anyhew, where do you see Cotto going next and where would you hope he fights? — Corey Hamilton, Ontario

I think Cotto needs to be in a compelling/competitive fight with an established name or a hot up-and-comer and I believe his “house” is Madison Square Garden.

I don’t want to see him in a non-competitive beatdown loss in Vegas (vs. Pacquiao), or a non-competitive beatdown victory in Texas (vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.), or a non-competitive walk-over in NYC (vs. John Duddy). If Arum tries to serve these matchups to the public, I hope the real fans of the sport take him to task and boycott that bulls__t.

Arum knows better than to try to make a major event with Clottey.

I want to see Cotto in real matchups in MSG. Mosley at 154 pounds is a natural. I don’t think there’s any reason for him to go back down in weight to fight Berto for the Haitian-American’s 147-pound title. However, if Berto and Mosley were to fight first (which is a possibility) and the young gun won that battle, he’d become a worthy challenger for Cotto — at junior middleweight.

Foreman’s no future hall of famer but he can be a solid TV fighter if he’s matched with aggressive opponents. I hope his knee heals fast and that he decides to hold off on his rabbi aspirations for at least another year or two.

I agree that Steward made some improvements on Cotto’s form. The most notable from my POV was his stance. His left foot was forward and his chin was tucked nicely behind his left shoulder. His jab seemed harder than usual, which will serve him well at this higher weight. He’ll need to put boxing first against harder-punching natural junior middleweights.

I agree that Pacquiao, Mayweather, Williams and Martinez should be considered big favorites over Cotto right now, but we never know. Cotto might continue to improve under Steward’s guidance. Who knows? By this time next year, Cotto might be ready for that fearsome foursome.

Dougie can be contacted at [email protected]

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