While the boxing world and casual fans know Miguel Cotto will fight on Saturday night, there are even bigger questions to consider: Which Cotto will show up?
Will it be the Cotto who gave Floyd Mayweather all he could handle in May of last year, even drawing blood from the nose of the fighter known as “Money?” Or will it be the Cotto who lost a one-sided decision to Austin Trout in December? Not only did he lose, but he looked sluggish and defeated towards the end of the fight.
Inquiring minds will find out on Saturday, as Cotto faces former world title challenger Delvin Rodriguez at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL. The scheduled 12 round bout will headline a Top Rank card and be televised on HBO.
No one will question the talent, tenacity, and grit Cotto has demonstrated in a professional career that has spanned over 12 years. Not only is he adored by Puerto Ricans abroad, but he is respected in boxing circles, largely for winning world titles in three different weight classes.
Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs) has been in a lot of fights, where he has had to exert an abundant amount of energy. Maybe the 10 months between his fight with Trout and Saturday’s fight with Rodriguez is what he and his body needed. Fighters do come back stronger after taking a much-needed break from the ring.
But will we see the same Cotto? Logic tells us that we will see a smarter and savvier Cotto in the ring. Also, how much of an impact will new trainer Freddie Roach have on him? Can Cotto learn new tricks from the Hall of Fame trainer in Roach, who has steered fighters such as Manny Pacquiao to success?
That will depend on what Rodriguez brings. The Dominican-born Rodriguez is younger and taller than Cotto. Rodriguez is a skilled fighter, but has nowhere near fought the level of opposition Cotto has fought. Still, Rodriguez (28-6-3, 16 KOs) has fought brutal battles inside the ring. His July 2011 bout against Pawel Wolak was one of the best fights of that year due to the shear brutality each other gave during their 10 round bout. Rodriguez’s best bet will be to fight on the inside, but Cotto has always been dangerous in landing those vicious body shots, particularly with left hooks.
Cotto-Rodriguez is being anticipated as a rock ‘em sock ‘em type of bout because both their styles complement each other well. However, both have been known to be susceptible to cuts, which might make them adjust their game plans during the fight. Cotto has looked energized during media workouts, even cracking smiles when his demeanor has usually been one to be serious.
“I’m glad to be here and I’m ready,” said Cotto at Thursday’s final press conference. “I had a great camp like Freddie and I’m ready. I’m just counting the hours to be right here on Saturday night. I’m going to be focused, I’m going to be sharp, and I’m going to be Miguel Cotto.”
Not only does that sound like a winning combination for Cotto, but it makes for a great fight. Should he win, the fans inside the Amway Center in Orlando will go home happy and network executives from HBO will look forward to putting Cotto back in the ring in 2014.
Cotto may not be the fighter he once was, but he is still marketable and has a name. An impressive win could lead him to another world title opportunity. There is even talk of Cotto fighting linear middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
A loss and Cotto may have to seriously evaluate his career as a legit contender.
Whatever it may be, boxing is thrilled to have Cotto back in the ring on Saturday. Welcome back, Miguel. Boxing has missed you.