Sharkie's Machine - “Miguel Cotto Answers The Question in Taking Yuri Foreman’s WBA Jr. Middleweight Title at Yankee Stadium”
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to DoghouseBoxing (June 6, 2010) Photo © German Villasenor  
Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, the question of how much Miguel Cotto has left was answered clearly as the former Welterweight titlist out boxed the now former Jr. Middleweight titlist, Yuri Foreman for eight rounds until the fight was reluctantly stopped by the referee Arthur Mercante Jr. in the ninth round after Cotto floored Foreman with a shot to the body.

Miguel Angel Cotto (35-2, 28 KO’s) came with a renewed sense of commitment as he faced his first Jr. Middleweight opponent, Yuri Foreman of Belarus . Foreman is a good boxer that doesn’t have a lot of pop but he’s very athletic, has good stamina and boxing skills. He was unbeaten coming in but left Yankee Stadium with his first loss that saw O go and his record amended to 28-1, with 8 knockouts. His record suggests that Yuri may lack punching power but wins his fights by out boxing his opponents.

Cotto has knocked out 27 of his 36 opponents. But time has a way of shifting the sands and the question of whether Cotto was damaged goods after his last two losses seems less a question after his excellent performance in a new division against one of its many titlists in Yuri Foreman.

There was a lot of talk about Foreman’s religion and his studying to become a Rabbi. That’s great but frankly, it’s all terribly irrelevant. Fortunately, there was no talk of Miguel Cotto’s Catholic faith. Thank God. What was relevant was that Foreman has campaigned at 154 since 2003. For Cotto, this was his first trip up to the 154-pound division.

Cotto rose to the top of his game while being trained by his uncle, Evangelista Cotto but after numerous fall outs, the uncle and nephew parted company. In the absence of his uncle, Miguel’s new trainers did not appear to be getting the desired results. Cotto didn’t look at athletic as he once was and has been criticized for having conditioning issues that led to lesser stamina in late rounds of big fights, namely his last two outings against two top level fighters in Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao.

To his credit, Cotto has faced some of the best guys in his division, he’s a dignified man that never disrespects his opponents with trash talk and appears to be the same hard working, honest boxer he’s always been. Cotto’s new trainer, Emanuel Stewart, has good experience in getting results. Clearly he helped Cotto find what’s been missing in his last two outings, as Cotto looked as fluid as many remember him to be before his two big losses. The fight against Yuri Foreman didn’t go the full 12 rounds, so we don’t really know how well the stamina issue has been addressed but when a fighter boxes as well as Cotto did Saturday night with a new trainer, one could figure his new regimen is producing the right kind of result.

The Rams horn was blown as Foreman made his way to the ring.

The fight:

Round One

Cotto lands a jab to open. Foreman boxed on the outside and landed a jab. A Cotto double jab knocks Foreman backward. Cotto again scored with the jab. Cotto landed a right to the face. Cotto focused less on going to the body but was effective going upstairs. Cotto’s footwork was very good and Foreman appeared tight and nervous. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Two

Foreman opens with jabs and lands a few. Cotto relaxed, doing his little dance, moving in and out of range, the way he used to in his better days. Cotto landed a jab to chin. Foreman landed a jab. Cotto stunned Foreman with an even sharper jab. Yuri runs a bit then comes back with some jabs and a combo. Cotto looked to be waiting for Yuri to present himself for a big shot that could end things early. Foreman used lots of energy running. 10-9 Cotto.

Foreman’s corner man told him between rounds not to let Cotto keep going to the bank. “Don’t give him any more money!”

Round Three

Cotto left hook. Cotto pressed and Foremen ran. Foreman dropped his mouthpiece… for no reason! Cotto left hook to the body. Foreman hard right! Ref stops action to replace Foreman’s mouthpiece. Cotto jab to the face. Cotto comfortable, though he had a swelling starting under his right eye. Cotto out boxed Foreman all round. Foreman landed a shot before the bell. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Four

Foreman landed a hard right, a left hook, then another right. Foreman upped his tempo and was boxing faster. Foreman landed another hard right! Foreman owned the momentum for the first third of the round. Then Cotto came on and landed a right, set up from his jab. Cotto stalked Foreman, always using his jabs to set up other punches. Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of body shots thrown by Cotto, who opted to stick with what was working; running his offense from the jab. Cotto punched Foreman into the corner; Foreman slips, and it was ruled a slip. Cotto landed a left hook. Best round for Foreman so far but Cotto won two thirds of the round by landing more and continuing to be the more efficient boxer. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Five

Cotto landed a quick combo upstairs. Foreman landed a few jabs in early exchanges but nothing big. Foreman landed a left hook. Cotto left hooked him right back. A Cotto left hook again found Foreman moving in. A Cotto upper cut appeared to cause Yuri’s nose to bleed throughout the round. Cotto’s defense, mobility and connect percentage was as good as I’ve ever seen. Foreman seemed in desperation mode. He needed to score more and win a round somehow if he were to have any chance to win. Since Foreman doesn’t possess much in the way of punching power, he had to find a way to out box Cotto, who landed a clean left hook to end the round. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Six

Lot of nothing early on…Cotto pressed, Foreman back peddled and scored a left to the body. Cotto scored a left hook as Foreman circled in to his left. Cotto blocks 4 out of 5 of Yuri’s shots. Cotto chases Foreman down, matching his speedy footwork and landed the more effective shots. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Seven

A confident Cotto smiled as round seven started. Foreman boxed going backwards and circling around to avoid Cotto’s punches. Foreman tripped and appeared to hurt his ankle but comes back with a respectable effort that showed big heart! Cotto goes back to work, chasing, punching and scoring. Foreman slipped, fell and appeared unable to keep his legs securely under him. The ref gives Yuri a moment to recover and action resumed. Cotto smelled blood and was looking for the KO. Cotto landed some more jabs, hooks, and a right. Foreman answered with a quick combo that Cotto hardly noticed. A Cotto left hook knocks Foreman’s mouthpiece out. Foreman landed a right to Cotto’s chin! Cotto unfazed, and landed some good shots with 20 seconds to go, Cotto almost closed the show but Foreman managed to survive the round. 10-9 Cotto.

Round Eight

Foreman notably unstable. Cotto does his job and comes in jabbing, always working. Foreman is game but outgunned and possibly injured to a degree that he might not have been able to continue. Yuri’s dragged his right foot as they boxed, when suddenly a white towel came flying into the ring. It was merciful timing.

There was confusion in the ring where there should have been none. Though the ring filled with outsiders, Mercante dismissed everyone from the ring, intending to allow the fight to continue, even though Cotto went and hugged Foreman, as though it were over, with both fighters thinking it was over.

“The Corner has not thrown in the towel” Mercante announced, as he readied the confused fighters to continue. I’ve not seen such weird refereeing since Frank Santore Jr. allowed Kermit Cintron to continue after Sergio Martinez scored a knock out (Cintron didn’t beat the ten count, so technically, he was kayoed). A white towel thrown in the ring when one fighter looked unable to win and that didn’t stop the fight? Very strange piece of refereeing.

And so once the ring was cleared, the fight continued and it was more of the same. Cotto landing left hooks followed by a right uppercut. Foreman landed a right over the top. Cotto jabs, jabs and chases Foreman until the bell rings. 10-9 Cotto.

An announcement between rounds sought to assure the crowd that “Only the ref can stop the fight and that the towel didn’t come from Yuri’s corner.” As it turns out, that wasn’t exactly true.

Round Nine

A Cotto left hook to the body floors Foreman. At 42 seconds into round nine, Mercante finally stopped the fight. Cotto wins by TKO in nine.

Though I saw Foreman lose every round, he gave a valiant effort and showed bravery under adversity, his best round was the fourth but even then, he didn’t ultimately do enough to win that round. I couldn’t find a round to give Foreman, since Cotto always landed the more telling shots and showed the better comportment throughout the fight.

Congratulations to Miguel Cotto, “the new” WBA Jr. Middleweight titlist.

During the post fight interview, Cotto was asked about the towel being thrown into the ring. Cotto said he saw it come from Foreman’s corner. When Foreman was interviewed, he said he didn’t want to quit and he proved that to be true by continuing when all was already lost.

Arthur Mercante was also interviewed and he gave his strange account of what happened. The way he spoke, it felt as though Mercante was rooting for Foreman. He told how he went to Foreman’s corner and encouraged him to continue, saying, “Suck it up kid, you’re game.” Then continued by saying, “We all seen it, he was game, he went down, he got back up. That’s the true heart of a champion. This was a great fight.” … etc. etc. But not a word about Cotto, who answered the question and that answer is that, ‘No, he’s not washed up. With his new training regimen, Cotto looked very sharp against a good Jr. Middleweight in Foreman.

With the victory, Cotto becomes the new WBA Jr. Middleweight titlist. At five-feet, seven inches tall, Cotto is short for a 154 pound fighter but with his style of boxing, maybe he’s not. Forman was taller and a very good boxer but Cotto handled him fairly easily.

With Antonio Margarito recently joining the ranks of the Jr. Middleweights, it would be a bold and lucrative call to arrange a rematch with Margarito. No doubt Margarito would accept. There’s also Kermit Cintron, Paul Williams, and a few other respectable names to consider but the one fighter I’d love to see Cotto take on is Alfredo Angulo.

Let’s hope Yankee Stadium continues to host boxing events. Its high profile venues like this that help make boxing more accessible to the fans.

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