I worry about Miguel Cotto.
Ever since the first time I saw him fight, back in ’05 against Muhammad Abdullaev, he was supposed to be my guy in boxing.
He was supposed to be the fighter whose career I would fervently follow and admire, win or lose.
He wasn’t supposed to be the fighter I was always worrying about.
Miguel Cotto is, in many ways; the quintessential Puerto Rican fighter.
While his style consists of a combination of pressure-based infighting and skillful counter-punching, (backed by an impressive jab) everything he does has a “swagger” to it, a sense of theatricality and flash.
Unfortunately, it is this “swagger” that has always made me worry about Miguel Cotto.
Boxing is a sport that is, above all; won through skillful observation and analysis.
Occasionally, a fighter will come around that can overcome their opponents with pure athleticism and raw physicality I.E. Roy Jones Jr., but in most cases it is a fighter’s mind, timing and reflexes that win the day.
It is a sport wherein predictability and tendencies are a fighter’s worst enemy.
Miguel Cotto has quirks, and they aren’t the good kind.
Most of these quirks are fairly minor, and aren’t really an issue, such as his tendency to cross his legs or readjust his footing prior to stepping in.
The most visible of these quirks however, is one that seems to surface in-between exchanges, particularly when Cotto parries, or is caught by a right hand.
For whatever reason, Cotto has a tendency to tuck his chin against his left shoulder, drop his left arm to his waist, and cup his right glove against his temple.
My theory as to it’s existence, is that Cotto has a habit of “hanging on to” his perceptions and visualizations of the fight.
That is to say, the image in his head of what he should have done tends to linger and cause him to physically carry out the appropriate action just a moment later.
I swear I’m not a psyche student. Scout’s honor.
In my eyes, it’s an immensely visible, and more importantly; exploitable tendency that I’ve always feared would lead to Cotto getting steamrolled by aggressive fighters with accurate punches and/or high workrates.
Oh wait, that happened already.
Now don’t get me wrong, I started out this post being pro-Cotto, and I intend to end it that way too, but it goes without saying that Miguel Cotto is a fighter that, at this stage in his career; is all too vulnerable.
Just to remind everyone, he’s only lost twice.
Neither loss should stand as a condemnation of Cotto’s standing as a fighter, however both losses were very hard to watch.
Not because he was pummeled so horribly, (he was) but because of the way he handled it.
Early in Miguel Cotto’s career, as a Junior Welterweight, he made his mark in the sport by being a “comeback kid” of sorts.
He was a dynamic and explosive fighter that had a reputation of being floored in his fights, only to get up and mount punishing offensives that would send his opponents packing.
After Cotto moved up in weight to Welterweight, a weight he claimed was healthier for him, his somewhat questionable chin seemed become less of an issue.
Personally, I feel that Cotto will never find an ideal weight class in boxing, (he’s too short for Junior Middleweight, and not all that big for a Welter) his chin will always be an iffy subject, it just wasn’t until years later that we saw it tested again.
In his fight against the talented, but RETARDED, Zab Judah; Cotto took a monster left uppercut to the jaw during the first round that had him reeling.
He never went down, and he went on to win the fight by KO, (though Judah’s ADHD may have had more to do with that than anything else) but the point was, he was seriously hurt in that fight, and it showed.
Hell, he only punched Zab in the balls like, 30 times that night, sounds like the behavior of a hurt and/or pissed off fighter to me.
The next time we saw him seriously hurt, he was being swept away by the human tidal wave known as Antonio Margarito.
I remember the Cotto/Margarito fight vividly.
I was watching it with my parents, and my dad was rooting for Margarito, while I was backing the Puerto Rican.
My dad and I both knew Cotto was probably going to lose, but unlike my dad; I had a personal stake in the fight.
I wanted Cotto to win.
That’s what made it so hard when my guy looked the slickest he ever had in the first 5-6 rounds, only to slowly, and decisively; get clubbed to death against the corner post.
I remember my heart sinking the moment I saw Cotto take a knee without taking a punch.
It was like my generation’s “No Mas” moment.
Well, maybe not that dramatic, but it was important to me.
I wasn’t mad at Cotto for giving up, I was just blown away by the fact that actually got up and tried to fight.
It was stupid.
In their prime, you could beat any one of those guys over the head with a shovel, and somehow their mind, their body, no matter how fragmented and crippled; would find a way to stand in front of you and just keep swinging.
Hell, they used to say that Gatti was no good unless he was bleeding, God rest his soul.
Good thing he was usually swollen and/or bleeding on his way down the ramp.
Seeing Miguel Cotto stand up and expect to turn the tide, after 4-5 rounds of awkwardly circling and half-heartedly jabbing at Antonio Margarito, was just plain sick.
When Miguel Cotto gets hurt, he makes mistakes.
When fighters make mistakes, they get hurt even worse.
Dissecting Miguel Cotto’s behavior while in “survival mode,” is painfully simple, even for a armchair quarterback like me.
Keep in mind, we’ve only really seen Cotto in this way on two occasions, though in this case, two times is twice too many.
Everything about his fighting reverts back to his quirks.
In short, his boxer’s mind sort of fizzles out, and all he’s left with are the comforts of his muscle memories.
Only problem is, most of his muscle memories are wrong.
He crosses his legs, he crouches too low, he retreats straight back, and he does that weird thing where he drops his hands, all while staying on his feet, but doing very little to keep himself in the fight.
There are situations when the trainer should step in and stop the fight, and both of Miguel Cotto’s losses were those sort of situations.
Against the genetic freak, Manny Pacquiao, Cotto was in serious trouble for most of the fight.
In the early rounds, he did alright, landing the first real decisive blow of the fight, (a jab) and maintaining a degree of composure for the most part.
I was non-partisan for the Cotto/Pacquiao fight.
I remember watching the fight in a bar with some friends and saying to myself in the third round:
“Aw fuck, his feet are all over the place. Pac-Man’s runnin’ circles around him.”
And it was true, Cotto was caught on far too many occasions, clumsily trying to reset his feet as he tends to do, while Pacquiao would dart in from the clever angles that have always made him dangerous.
Let it be said also, that Cotto’s forehead centric guard is tailor made to make him eat straight left hands to the jaw.
Not a good thing when that’s your opponent’s money punch.
After Cotto went down, he was out of the fight.
Perhaps if he had better powers of recovery, or hadn’t been fighting as aggressive and accurate a puncher as Pacquaio, he may have been able to regain his senses and get back in the fight.
This was not the case however, and, while Cotto managed to keep Pac-Man at bay with the occasional stiff jab off the ropes every now and again, his legs spent the whole night fighting a losing battle against Pacquiao’s constant pressure.
It was truly unfortunate, for me anyway, to have had to watch Cotto stumble around, making all the same mistakes as he had in the latter rounds of the Margarito fight, for almost the whole of 12 rounds.
On a side note, I got a similar feeling of disgust watching Yuri Foreman hobble around on one leg for 3 rounds during Cotto’s most recent fight.
The Cotto/Pacquiao fight should have been stopped in the 9th round, or perhaps even sooner; end of story.
Maybe Cotto’s “survival mode” is just too good for his own safety.
Maybe he does just enough to keep the ref happy, and his opponent at bay in the hopes of hearing the final bell.
Maybe it’s his own damn fault he doesn’t just get knocked the fuck out and call it an early night.
I don’t know what to think of Miguel Cotto when he’s hurt, and all of the familiar quirks and bad habits boil to the surface.
I would never go so far as to say that Cotto’s days are numbered, and that his career is on the downward spiral, however that doesn’t keep me from worrying.
I’ll never stop watching all of Miguel Cotto’s fights, and he’ll never stop being my guy in boxing.
I am a Miguel Cotto fan, and by golly, I worry some times…