A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Location, Location, Location!!!
Not since 1976 when Muhammad Ali defended his title against Ken Norton has Yankee Stadium seen a championship fight. As for boxing, this was the second championship fight held in an outdoor stadium as the Clottey-Pacquaio fought in front of 50,000 fans at the new Dallas Cowboy stadium.
Foreman-Cotto would be the first championship fight in the new Yankee Stadium, but the old stadium saw many great fights under its light including the one of the two fights of century, Louis-Schmeling.
(The other fight of the century was Ali-Frazier 1 held at the Garden, allowing New York City to host two of the biggest boxing matches in the sport history.)
The opening bout featured Joe Greene challenging Vanes Martirosyan in a bout of undefeated junior Middleweights. In the opening stanza, Greene pursued Martirosyan in the ring and landed the best punch of round with a sharp left.
With less than 20 second, Greene accidently nailed Martirosyan with low blow even though Martirosyan landed a similar blow one punch earlier. HBO’s Roy Jones felt both blows were legal, but Martirosyan acted like the punch to his beltline was low.
The second round, both fighters exchanged solid punches including hooks in a round that was close and hard to score even though Martirosyan may have stolen the round with a couple of solid rights as time was running out of the round.
In the third round, Martirosyan had his best round as his right found a target against the southpaw as Greene wild punches and porous defense along with sloppy footwork made him vulnerable to Martirosyan’s right hands.
During the fifth round, Greene started to connect and Martirosyan’s left eye started to swell due to straight left. Martirosyan was still worried about his eye as the sixth round began.
Halfway through the round, Martirosyan threw three solids right that shook Greene and forced Greene to retreat as Martirosyan attacked the American fighter around the ring.
Halfway through the fight, Martirosyan’s eyes were swollen but he controlled the fight going into the second half of the fight. Greene’s attack proved ineffectual as he often threw one punch at a time, failing to throw effective combinations.
This showed up in the eighth round as a Martirosyan right hand open up a cut over Greene eyes. The ninth round saw more of the same as Martirosyan’s boxing style bothered Greene, whose aggressiveness became even more neutralized.
In the 10th round, commentator Jones noted that Greene looked at the stadium scoreboard as if to say, “How much more do I have left in this fight.”
With seconds waning and Greene looking at scoreboard one more time, Martirosyan threw a left jab, a solid right followed by a left hook that saw Greene twirl around off balanced and his hand hit the canvas for a knockdown.
This clinched the fight for Martirosyan. The judges had the score 96-93, 96-93 and 98-91 even though the 98-91 was the more accurate score.
Martirosyan is a tall fighter for a junior Middleweight and he wants Paul Williams for a title shot. He also showed himself to be a solid boxer with good skills but there was nothing in this fight that convinced me that he could beat Williams.
THE MAIN EVENT
Yuri Foreman came into the fight undefeated against a tough Miguel Cotto and if this was not enough, Foreman was not just a boxer but he trained to be a Rabbi. This fight, held in Yankee Stadium, was a throwback to a bygone day in which ethnicity played a role in the promotion.
In this bout, you had a Jewish fighter fighting a Puerto Rican fighter in a city in which there was heavy a Jewish and Puerto Rican population. Foreman was the taller fighter but Cotto actually had the longer reach and Cotto’s advantage included that he has fought best in his division.
In the opening minutes, Cotto’s power showed its advantage as every jab pushed Foreman back. Foreman punches fell short as Cotto pursued while effectively cutting off the ring.
In the middle of the second round, a Cotto jab pushed Foreman back and while Foreman was more aggressive, this aggressiveness was curtailed after the Cotto jab forced a Foreman retreat. In the last 30 seconds, a Cotto right wobbled Foreman.
In the third round, Foreman threw his best right hand, but Cotto’s punches had more snap as he not only had the power advantage but he proved the better boxer.
At the opening of the fourth round, Foreman found a right hand lead successful as he nailed Cotto with a series of right hands and one of those rights produced a welt under the left eye.
Cotto’s left jabs drew blood from Foreman’s nose. He had his best round in the fourth and as Jones noted, “It was out of desperation to show Cotto that he belonged.”
In the opening minutes of the fifth round, Foreman exchanged left hooks with Cotto but Cotto got the better of the exchanges. He finished the exchanges as his power shots got through Foreman’s defense.
This continued through the six rounds and going into the seventh round, Cotto was ahead on the card. In a peculiar set of circumstance, Foreman’s knee gave out as he planted his foot. Foreman fought courageously on one knee.
Both fighters went toe to toe but Foreman was at a disadvantage since his power could not match Cotto. After a rough seventh round, Foreman went out for the eighth round with no legs and with his primary weapon gone; it became a matter of time before Cotto would end the fight.
Halfway through the round, a towel flew into the ring but it did not come from the corner. Arthur Mercante, Jr. refuse to allow the fight end despite the towel flying in, for he was not certain that if the towel came from the corner.
So over the last minute of the round, Cotto pounded Foreman who gingerly moved back. In the ninth round opening seconds, Foreman retreated backward but unable to escape Cotto’s attack.
Cotto pursued Foreman and unleashed a left hook that sent him down.
The referee then stopped the fight.
Foreman was losing the fight when he had his leg but once his knee gave out, he had no chance. As for Cotto, he got another championship belt and a knock out victory but for Foreman, he showed the boxing world that even in defeat, he was willing to pay the price.
The crowd at Yankee Stadium a saw an excellent fight between two good fighters, but Cotto’s superior power and skills decided the match.