Cotto Vs. Malignaggi: The Future Is Now

By Francis Walker
Updated: May 26, 2006

Miguel Cotto and Paul Malignaggi

Miguel Cotto and Paul Malignaggi

NEW YORK — The battle between WBO junior welterweight champion Miguel Cotto (26-0, 22 KOs) and Paul Malignaggi (21-0, 5 KOs) may perhaps provide an interesting look into the future of professional boxing once Bernard Hopkins, Oscar De La Hoya, and Roy Jones, Jr. respectfully and hopefully end their Hall of Fame careers with their legacy intact.

The date, June 10, has long been set aside. The stage, Madison Square Garden, New York City, will brace for thousands fans. The boxing world will await an explosion between two undefeated fighters in always highly anticipated “boxer vs. puncher” encounter.

The winner will advance to the next level of the type of recognition that leads to superstardom (bigger newspaper clippings, cover stories, documentaries, larger purses, big money fights) in boxing.

The loser will experience defeat for the first time in their professional career and it could be detrimental.

Cotto and Malignaggi are both very young and developing fighters. But before promoters are willing to invest additional hundreds of thousands of dollars into their careers, they want to make sure that their investments will result to dividends on returns not losses. That is why Cotto and Malinggani will collide.

The Boxer vs. The Puncher

Malignaggi is clearly going to be the boxer in this fight. Malignaggi has hand speed and moves his head a lot. However, Malignaggi is recognized for not having much punching power.

In fact, only five of Malignaggi’s 21 professional fights have ended in a knockout victory (23%). Malignaggi will be fighting Cotto, a developing 140-pounder who has a career 85% KO percentage. Cotto has knocked out his last six opponents.

Although Malignaggi does not have much power it is doubtful that he even has enough strength to keep Cotto off. Cotto is an aggressive puncher who can box. He is relentless and draws cheers from the crowd, unlike Malignaggi, who showboats and draws plenty of boos by taunting his foes.

Cotto-Malignaggi promises to be explosive. It could be one of those fights in which one fighter does not deserve to lose.

But this is the boxing business and only one fighter will take that next step toward mainstream stardom, especially since marquee names such as Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, Felix Trinidad, and others are finished as boxers.