Miguel Cotto's Five Finest Performances
Published: August 26, 2017
Tonight at the StubHub Center in Carson, California Puerto Rico’s first four-division world champion Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) steps into the ring for what could be the final time. Cotto will be facing Japanese brawler Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs) for the vacant WBO Super Welterweight (154) championship. The bout has been largely overshadowed by the spectacle of Mayweather-McGregor. However, for many Cotto-Kamegai will be the fight to watch tonight as it could end up providing fans with fireworks.
Cotto has stated on many occasions that 2017 will be the final year of his career and depending on what happens against Kamegai, fans could be seeing him for the last time. The four-division champion has never been the most beloved fighter even in his native Puerto Rico, but the one thing he has all across the board from fans and pundits alike is respect. No matter how the career of Cotto ends, he has given boxing exciting fights against the best competition available on a regular basis. Looking back at Cotto’s career he stepped in the ring with the two best of his era in Floyd Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) and even avoided fighters like Austin Trout (30-3, 17 KOs) and Joshua Clottey (39-5, 22 KOs). After a career that has spanned over 16 years let’s take a look at some of the best performances, Miguel Cotto has produced.
Kelson Pinto (24-2, 22 KOs)
September 11, 2004
Even for the most accomplished fighters, the first title victory will always be memorable. In 2004, Cotto faced amateur rival Kelson Pinto for the vacant WBO Super Lightweight (140) title in Puerto Rico. On this night, Cotto wore trunks with the names of all the previous world champions from Puerto Rico as a way to show that he was ready to stamp his name with all those champions. Those who may remember Cotto as a come forward destroyer will not be disappointed with his performance over Pinto. The vaunted left hook was on full display as he stopped Pinto in the sixth round in a great world title performance.
Randall Bailey (46-9, 39 KOs)
December 11, 2004
For some fighters winning a world championship can make you that much more confident in your abilities. Cotto was no exception in this often forgotten fight with Randall Bailey in his first world title defense. This bout was put on the undercard of a Vitali Klitschko heavyweight title defense against British contender Danny Williams. On this night, Cotto put on a boxing clinic dropping Bailey twice with the bout ultimately being stopped due to cuts in the sixth round.
Ricardo Torres (33-2, 29 KOs)
September 24, 2005
In Atlantic City once again on the undercard for one of the Klitschko brothers, Cotto faced Columbian power-puncher, Ricardo Torres. Torres came in on two-weeks notice and provided Cotto with arguably the most exciting fight of his career. If not for the bout with Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo in May of 2005, Cotto-Torres may have been the fight of the year. In the fight, both men were severely hurt and hit the canvas. In the end, Cotto came out victorious with a knockout in the seventh round after Torres ran out of gas. Those looking for a bout where Cotto shows his resilience and his ability to come back from being hurt, the fight with Torres is one to watch.
Delvin Rodriguez (29-9-4, 16 KOs)
October 03, 2013
After a disappointing 2012 that saw Cotto lose to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout, the Puerto Rican decided to change his team by adding Freddie Roach and strength and conditioning coach Gavin McMillan. The bond between Cotto and Roach brought back the Cotto of old who came forward with his left hook to the body. The fight took place in the untapped Puerto Rican market of Orlando, Florida bringing in a packed house at the Amway Center. In the second round, Cotto hurt Rodriguez with a beautiful left hook and finished the job in the third round. This was the start of the last phase of Cotto’s career.
Carlos Quintana (29-4, 23 KOs)
December 02, 2006
After a few years of struggling to make the 140-pound limit at super lightweight, Cotto decided to make his move to the welterweight (147) division. Luckily for him, there was an opportunity to challenge for a vacant title against fellow undefeated Puerto Rican Carlos Quintana. At the time the island of Puerto Rico was split down the middle as to who would win the fight and whom they would be supporting. Cotto put the conversation to rest by for lack of a better term beating up Quintana. Cotto dropped Quintana with a devastating left hook to the body that took the fight out of Quintana forcing his corner to stop the fight in the corner before the start of the sixth round. With the victory, Cotto became the WBA welterweight champion.
Antonio Margarito II (40-8, 27 KOs)
December 03, 2011
The highly anticipated rematch between Cotto and Margarito took place three years after the now controversial first bout. This time the two men would be fighting for the WBA Super Welterweight (154) title. This was the definition of a grudge match with the two men trading insults most famously on an episode of HBO’s Faceoff where Cotto accused Margarito of having tampered hand wraps in their first bout. Aside from the hand wrap storyline, there was also the issue of Margarito’s eye that was injured in his fight with Manny Pacquiao the year before. There was also the famous Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry that was part of the bout.
The fight took place in front of a packed house at Madison Square Garden in front of a large Puerto Rican contingency. The match played out similar to the first bout with Cotto winning most of the rounds by out landing and out boxing the bigger Margarito. Unfortunately for Margarito, the eye came into play after having his best round in the ninth. The fight was stopped due to damage to the eye that Cotto capitalized on. This was more of a moral victory for Cotto who performed well but got the demon of his first loss as a professional off his back.
Sergio Martinez (51-3-2, 28 KOs)
June 07, 2014
The apex of the partnership between Cotto and Freddie Roach took place in June 2014 when Cotto challenged middleweight champion Sergio Martinez for the WBC and lineal middleweight championships. Cotto would be attempting to become the first four-division Puerto Rican champion in boxing history. The champion, in this case, gave up all concessions to the challenger by facing Cotto in his second home of Madison Square Garden and acquiescing to a catch weight. Martinez had been out of the ring for over a year and coming off of surgery. It was unclear how he would perform against a formidable challenge in Cotto.
Any questions surrounding the bout were answered in the first round as Cotto hurt Martinez with the first left hook he landed and dropped him three times in the round. Cotto followed the game plan set by Roach and did not bum rush Martinez but proceeded to outbox the Argentinean who was clearly affected by his knee. After Cotto dropped Martinez with a jab in the ninth round, Martinez’s corner decided they have seen enough stopping the bout in the corner before the start of the tenth round. While Martinez’s physical state does take away from the victory, Cotto still performed wonderfully in the fight and made history becoming the first four-division Puerto Rican champion.
Zab Judah (43-9, 30 KOs)
June 09, 2007
The bout with Zab Judah much like Felix Trinidad’s fight with William Joppy six years earlier was the apex of Cotto’s popularity. At the time the fight with Judah was the highest selling boxing bout in the history of Madison Square Garden setting an attendance record. Judah is a native New Yorker who was coming off a suspension from his April 2006 bout with Floyd Mayweather. Judah only had one bout in between that went one round and was turned into a no contest. Just a little less than two years before meeting Cotto, Judah was the undisputed welterweight champion. Needless to say, Judah did not need any extra motivation to get ready for Cotto.
Cotto-Judah was a fight that had everything you can ask for as a boxing fan. It featured back and forth action with both fighters getting hurt. The raucous crowd added in the controversy of the low blows by Cotto made the bout that much better. In the end, Cotto began to punish Judah in the later rounds and stopped him in the eleventh round. It was a crowning moment for Cotto signifying him as the new star in the welterweight division.
Shane Mosley (49-10-1, 41 KOs)
November 10, 2007
Seven years after Shane Mosley faced Oscar De La Hoya in Los Angeles in a bout that exceeded expectations, Mosley met Cotto in Madison Square Garden in one of the best fights of 2007. While Mosley was not in his prime when he met Cotto, he was still a formidable opponent capable of defeating and challenging the best in any division he competed. The build up to the fight was filled with nothing but respect. It was the opposite of the De La Hoya-Mayweather bout that took place earlier in the year. Cotto and Mosley put on a show for the fans at MSG with both men trading rounds and having shifts in momentum. Ultimately the Judges saw the fight in favor of the Puerto Rican who showed another dimension that night by at times out brawling and out boxing the veteran Mosley. The scorecards were 115-113 twice and 116-113. The fight by the numbers was as close as can be with both men landing the same amount of total punches (248) according to CompuBox.
Miguel Cotto will one day be inducted into the hall-of-fame. Cotto will be known as one of the greatest Puerto Rican fighters of all time following the footsteps of Wilfred Benitez and Wilfredo Gomez. He may not have been the beloved figure like his predecessor Felix Trinidad, but he was more than a worthy successor as he always gave the fans their money’s worth and represented the island nation with pride.
(Feature Photo: Getty Images)