A Home Run For Miguel

By Francis Walker, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: June 7, 2010

NEW YORK (BASN) — Energized by a crowd of more than 20,000 in the first boxing event to be held at Yankee Stadium since Muhammad Ali bested Ken Norton in their third fight to retain the unified WBC/WBA heavyweight championship 34 years ago, Miguel Cotto did not disappoint.

Cotto proved that his losses to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao were just that — losses. Not a sign of a shot fighter.

He (35-2, 28 KOs) impressed the boxing community and many naysayers by moving up in weight to lift the WBA junior middleweight championship title from previously unbeaten Yuri Foreman (28-1, 8 KOs).

Cotto pummeled Foreman until his right knee, which was wrapped in a brace, buckled in round seven.

It was a freakish knee injury, but to Foreman’s credit he fought for nearly two rounds on one bad leg before a left hook to the body crippled the champion at 42 seconds of the ninth round.

“Cotto vs. Foreman: Stadium Slugfest” was televised live on HBO Sports.

Entering the contest, there were whispers throughout the sports world that Cotto couldn’t cut anymore as a fighter. Cotto has had a terrific career to go along with a number of brutal fights.

In recent years, Cotto has had tough fights against Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, and Joshua Clottey. The loss to Margarito was smeared in controversy because of speculation that Margarito’s gloves were “loaded.” Cotto took another brutal beating in his last bout in November against Pacquiao.

In addition, the loss of his father along with a chaotic relationship with longtime trainer and Uncle Evangelista Cotto drained Miguel emotionally.

Cotto, a determined and proud fighter, wanted to prove that he wasn’t finished. Cotto went out and hired the services of famed trainer Emmanuel Steward. Through Steward, Cotto went back to his pure boxing style in an effort to deal with the taller 5-foot-11 boxer-mover in Foreman.

Cotto didn’t chase Yuri, but rather cut-off the ring with brilliant foot-speed and a strong left jab. Cotto didn’t abandon the jab. Cotto kept his gloves high, which made it very difficult for Foreman to hit him cleanly.

Unlike his previous bouts, Cotto’s face didn’t swell nor did it bust with cuts and bruises.

Cotto’s face was clean like a whistle, but most importantly his skills and flair for fighting remained intact.

Afterwards, Cotto said that he spent time “working on the jab and putting pressure on [Foreman].

It worked pretty good, just follow the instructions of Emmanuel.”

Foreman could do nothing more than boxing and move. Foreman slipped a few punches and displayed some good defensive moves, but his moments were few and far between. Foreman simply didn’t have the punch that could deter Cotto. The 29 year-old Puerto Rican was too persistent, too sharp, and too strong for Foreman.

But to Foreman’s credit, as ineffective as he was for the most part, he dazzled everyone with one of the most memorable acts of bravery inside of a boxing ring.

In round seven, Foreman was moving around the ring comfortably until his right knee suddenly buckled from underneath. The injury wasn’t caused from a punch or foul, but referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. awarded Foreman with time to recover.

“It’s an old injury,” Foreman later said. Foreman added that he was in intense pain and that he was a world champion and elected to fight.

Barely able to move, Foreman continued to fight. Foreman engaged Cotto in a stand-up battle. Cotto knocked Foreman’s mouthpiece out during a heated exchange moments after Foreman’s injury.

In round eight, someone from Foreman’s corner threw in a white towel signaling surrender. But when Mercante asked Foreman if he wanted the fight stopped, the now former champion said he wanted the fight to continue. As everyone celebrated the stoppage (including Cotto), Mercante cleared the ring and order the bout to continue.

Foreman miraculously survived the eighth round. The stoppage finally came in the ninth round when Cotto planted a beautiful left hook to the body.

Stadium Slugfest undercard

Cotto vs. Foreman wasn’t the only bout featured on the HBO World Championship Boxing broadcast. The co-featured bout of the evening was a crossroads showdown between unbeaten junior middleweights Vanes Martirosyan vs.

“Mean” Joe Greene.

The bout was pretty much one-sided, as Martirosyan (28-0, 17 KOs) was credited with a knockdown in the final round, en route to a unanimous 10-round decision over Greene (22-1, 14 KOs). The judges scored the bout 98-91 and 96-93 (twice).

Martirosyan showed more initiative to carryout his trainer Freddie Roach’s instructions to throw punches, move and outwork his competition. Greene, however, wearing the colors of the 27-time World Series Champion New York Yankees, looked tentative in his adopted role as an opponent.

Junior middleweight Pawel Womack (27-1, 17 KOs) defeated Jamie Moore (17-3, 10 KOs), via unanimous decision.

The scores were 97-93 (twice) and 96-94 after ten rounds.

Lightweight Juan Gonzalez (8-0, 7 KOs) was forced to go the distance for the first time in his career with previously unbeaten Juan Lucio (4-1-1, 2 KOs). Gonzalez was an unanimous decision winner after six rounds of action.

Featherweight prospect Jorge Diaz (14-0, 9 KOs) stopped Jae Sung Lee (10-3-1, 7 KOs) at 1:54 seconds of the sixth and final round.

Lightweight Abner Cotto (8-0, 6 KOs) was a unanimous decision winner over Edgar Portillo (6-5-1, 4 KOs).

Super lightweight Jonathan Cuba (2-2-2 KOs) was TKO’d by Christian Martinez (4-0, 4 KOs) in the fourth and final round.