Miguel Cotto’s rules or no fight, simple
If you look up “stoic” in the proverbial dictionary that uses pictures of people instead of words, you’ll likely find the face of Miguel Cotto staring at you.
A warrior in every sense of the word who isn’t here to beg for your accolades.
Check the portfolio and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better one in all of boxing. He’s fought the best fighters of our era (Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.) and gave them both hell before he fell on his shield. The names of former champions have been stricken from his hit list (Sergio Martinez, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Ricardo Mayorga and Joshua Clottey). You’ll be hard pressed to find someone that Cotto didn’t fight. He’s earned his place in the boxing Hall of Fame. But until that time comes, the Puerto Rican has earned the right to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
Which is why his June 6 showdown with Daniel Geale will be fought at a catchweight of 157 pounds despite the bout being for Cotto’s WBC and RING middleweight (160 pounds) titles. For any other fighter, this may be a bit egregious. But for Cotto, he’ll be damned if he sees it any other way.
“I had to do (a catchweight) at this particular time and anyone who wants to fight me must accept a catchweight or otherwise there is no fight,” Cotto (39-4, 32 knockouts) said during a recent conference call to discuss his fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
His title, his terms, his rules. Debate any of this and you’ll be shoved aside for the next opponent who is willing to face one of the most popular boxers in the sport. For Geale, who has lost two of his last four fights, shaving off the extra three pounds will be worth it if he can capitalize on a future Hall of Famer who is moving into the twilight years of his lauded career.
“If you’re fighting for a middleweight title it should be at 160,” Geale said when discussing if he had a problem with the terms. “I’m not going to complain about it and we’ll take it on the chin.”
After being run over by Gennady Golovkin last July, Geale probably wasn’t sure if he’d get another opportunity to face a top-tier name. But with Cotto’s freshly inked deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation to the tune of a whopping $50 million coupled with the fact that the four-division champion hasn’t fought in nearly a year since upending Sergio Martinez, the 34-year-old’s first fight wasn’t likely to be against a dangerous opponent. Not that Geale is a pushover – his 31-3 record with 16 knockouts is proof of that – but he certainly isn’t Saul “Canelo” Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin. It’s evident that Team Cotto and Roc Nation are going to work their way up to those fights.
“I definitely believe that Miguel and his camp are looking past me,” the Australian said. “They are looking past me and looking for big money fights but I’m here to ruin those plans. I didn’t come here to lose.”
But isn’t that what they all say? No fighter is going to say that he showed up to lie down. Cotto expects Geale to come out with the expectation of pulling off the upset. And with Geale’s height and reach advantage, Cotto has a few things that he’s keenly aware will present some obstacles.
“All I need to do put into practice what we did in training camp,” Cotto said while mentioning his relationship with trainer Freddie Roach, who had Cotto looking like a million bucks when he bludgeoned Sergio Martinez last June. Trying to get Cotto to open up about the significance of the fight and his boxing future is about as challenging as navigating through a minefield with a blindfold on. Honestly, conference calls are a waste of time because Cotto doesn’t offer much for journalists to chew on when penning their stories. Fortunately, his work in the ring precedes him.
It’s hard to not look past Geale because of the compelling fights to make. A Golovkin fight already carries a ton of intrigue but it is the possible showdown with Alvarez that really has the boxing world salivating. Rekindling the Puerto Rico vs. Mexico rivalry with two fighters known to excite fans with their offensive outbursts is what dreams are made of. Cotto’s fight with Geale is what we do while we are awake before we go back to sleep and hope that dream fight materializes.
But don’t tell Cotto that because he won’t give it a moment of his attention.
“The only thing I have in mind is Daniel Geale. If that fight (against Alvarez) happens, it would be after June 6,” Cotto said. “There’s no need to say anything more about it.”
OK then. You can try to repackage an inquiry about Cotto’s future the best way you can but will be stonewalled with consistency. Nevertheless, we’d be foolish to believe that Cotto hasn’t thought about the future and sewing up loose ends before calling it a career. After all, he’s 34 and has been in more wars than the average fighter. He’s aware that there aren’t very many big fights left out there for him. Even Team Geale believes that he’s being “matched up right” because he doesn’t have much left in the tank and isn’t a true middleweight. Perhaps Geale is a litmus test for Cotto before moving ahead to face Canelo and/or Golovkin.
Either way, Cotto’s Hall of Fame resume is already cemented. Everything else is the proverbial cherry on top of the sundae. It’s going to be up to Geale to spoil the dessert and send Cotto packing early.