The Road to Cotto-Canelo PART FIVE

CottoSmOn November 21, 2015 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Miguel Cotto will face Saul Canelo Alvarez in a catch-weight bout for the WBC middleweight title. Depending on what happens in this bout it may be the last time we see Miguel Cotto on the big stage in boxing. If Canelo bludgeons Cotto and stops him, Cotto may retire.  If Canelo wins a disputed decision, there could be a rematch or Cotto may pull a Marvin Hagler and retire from the sport.  Regardless of the outcome when Miguel Cotto does in fact retire he will have already earned his ticket into the boxing hall of fame. Whether it be the one in Canastota, New York, Puerto Rico or Las Vegas; Miguel Cotto is likely to get in to every one of these.  Miguel Cotto has won titles in four different weight divisions at super lightweight, welterweight, super welterweight and middleweight. In June 2014 Cotto became the first Puerto Rican boxer to win a title in a fourth weight division.

Cotto may not have been as beloved as Felix Trinidad on the island of Puerto Rico, but his career hasn’t been plagued with as many promotional issues and his career has lasted longer than any of the other Puerto Rican great, besides Hector Camacho who fought in four different decades.  Cotto also holds the distinction of being the highest ticket seller in the history of Madison Square Garden.

If the Canelo bout is the last time we see Miguel Cotto in a major championship or big Pay-Per-View event then it’s important to remember his battles inside the ring. Whether you were cheering against Miguel Cotto or cheering for him, one thing is for sure: you were left entertained.  Cotto like his contemporary Manny Pacquiao is one of the few fighters whose fights lived up to expectations and produced excitement when all eyes were on the sport. Here are 3 of my personal favorite Miguel Cotto fights. These fights are not a definitive list as his best wins or most important fights, but merely what I feel are overlooked.

3. Miguel Cotto vs. Carlos Quintana | Vacant WBA Welterweight Title

December 2, 2006 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey

For the Cotto critics, this was another fight for a vacant title, but just a month before Carlos Baldomir was the reigning welterweight champion in the division. Not all title reigns are created equally.

This was the rare battle between two fellow Puerto Ricans and at the time Carlos Quintana was undefeated, was held in such high regard that he was actually the favorite on the island going into the bout.  Quintana was coming off a win that summer over the much-hyped undefeated knockout artist Joel Julio from Columbia.  Quintana won a unanimous decision is a mild upset where he easily out boxed Julio.  Cotto was coming up in weight from 140 pounds where he last fought and gave the first defeat to Paulie Malignaggi. Although Cotto looked good in that fight it was clear that making 140 pounds was affecting his performance in the ring.  When Cotto and Quintana met it seem obvious that he was there to make a point and was not there to box. Quintana was able to turn Cotto and win the first few rounds, however Cotto wasn’t there to win rounds; he was there to punish Quintana.  By the time the fourth round came you may have looked at your scorecard and had Quintana ahead, but looking at the two fighters you can clearly see who was doing the more damage.  After a vicious body attack in the fifth round, Quintana went down almost lifeless. The fight was stopped in between rounds. Quintana looked dead-tired, beaten up and could not continue. This is an overlooked victory for Cotto as Quintana went on to lay the blueprint on how to defeat Paul Williams from a southpaw stance.  With this victory Cotto made his claim as the best Puerto Rican fighter on the island.

2. Miguel Cotto vs. Kelson Pinto | Vacant WBO super lightweight title

September 11, 2004 José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

Miguel Cotto walked into the ring this night with trunks bearing the name of all the past Puerto Rican champions in boxing history. This was Miguel Cotto’s first world title shot and he was there to make history by adding his name to the list. Kelson Pinto was undefeated at the time, but what he was known best for was besting Cotto in the amateurs. When people talk about Miguel Cotto at 140 they describe a body shot killer who beat up his opponents. On this night Cotto beat up Pinto with a variety of punches to the body and head. Cotto was determined to make a statement and he never let Pinto into the fight. Cotto knocked Pinto down at the end of the fifth round and then went out in the sixth round and put a beating on Pinto that forced the referee to stop the contest. Pinto was never heard from again and Cotto went on to win more championships, but his first world title win was as impressive as he as ever looked.

Honorable Mention:

Miguel Cotto vs. Randall Bailey | WBO super lightweight title

December 11, 2004 Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada

Much like his performance against Alfonso Gomez, Cotto came into the contest hugely confident. Cotto put on a complete performance against a dangerous opponent who is known for his one punch knock out power. It’s largely overlooked because it was on the PPV undercard of the Vitali Klitschko Danny Williams PPV mismatch.  Cotto beat Bailey up in a fight fought in a phone booth and laid right hands and brutal body shots from the beginning to the end. The fight was stopped on cuts luckily for Bailey as he was taking a beating and the cuts saved him from any more abuse. Much like Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Jesus Salud, this was a complete performance from Cotto in his prime right before he hit super star status and began headlining PPVs.

1. Miguel Cotto vs. Ricardo Torres | WBO super lightweight title

September 24, 2005 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Once again on a Klitschko undercard, but this time under Wladimir as he faced Samuel Peter in the main event.  In any other year this fight would have won the fight of the year honors, but that was awarded to the lightweight title classic between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo that May. Ricardo Torres came into the bout undefeated with a 28-0 and 26 knockouts record. He also was a 2-week replacement for Joel Julio who was originally scheduled to face Cotto. Many times late replacements can be dangerous as the fighter has been preparing for another opponent and now has little time to prepare for new one. Cotto started off the fight quickly, began to unload on Torres and managed to score a knockdown in the first round. This played into Torres’ plan as it gave Cotto more confidence to come forward and fire away. Torres caught Cotto with a huge right hand followed by an uppercut that wobbled him and caused him to back away for the entire second round. Torres scored a knockdown in the round off a right hand a push to the canvas. Cotto tried to regain control and hurt Torres back in the round, but on this night Cotto was not the bigger puncher. Both men traded hard punches in the center of the ring and time was stopped for a low blow from Cotto. Cotto was warned twice for going low but it didn’t stop Cotto from going to the body for rest of the round. Cotto backed Torres up and punished him with body shots. Cotto began to regain some control in the fourth round and beat Torres up for the majority of the round and scored a knocked down where Torres had a delayed reaction to the punch. The fifth round Cotto was once again dominating, but Cotto got too confident and was caught with a vicious uppercut right hand combination and for the rest of the round Cotto was battered around the ring by Torres.  Cotto in the sixth round came out to box after his trainer asked him if he was crazy in between rounds. Cotto still pressed the initiative as the ring general. Just went it seemed that Cotto was going to win the round based on Torres taking the round off, a right hand landed by Cotto that caused Torres to fall forward on the canvass. The seventh round began violently as both fighters exchanged vicious power punches and Torres was again in control. Conditioning was the key in this fight. Torres was too fatigued to compete with the pace he set himself in the beginning of the round. Cotto finished Torres in the seventh round when he backed Torres up with combinations and finished off the exhausted Torres with a body shot who stayed on the canvass for the entire ten count. Without question this is the defining Miguel Cotto fight for excitement. It has Cotto facing a good undefeated opponent and battling back from adversity.

What are some your favorite Cotto fights?  Cotto has been in many battles and I’m sure that everyone may have a different list of favorites.

About the Author

Hector Franco
Graduated from USF. Photographer, boxing writer, comedian. 100% Puerto Rican.

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