Mike Sloan – It was close to midnight and his face was a battered, swollen mess. There were scrapes and bruises and bumps everywhere, his head hung low out of frustration and disappointment. Just moments earlier, Miguel Cotto intimated that he will continue to fight, though many within the sport of boxing already think that might be a bad decision.
Cotto, one of the most popular fighters of the past decade, lost for the fourth time as a professional, this time at the hands of young lion Austin Trout. It was also the first time in his career that the entertaining Puerto Rican sensation tasted defeat in his comfort zone of Madison Square Garden. Cotto had previously gone 7-0 in the hallowed stadium and it is usually filled to the rafters with adoring Puerto Ricans from all over New York. Aside from the outcome, Saturday night was no different.
Cotto let a mid-rounds rally slip through his fingers and wound up losing a surprisingly lopsided unanimous decision to a man many believe to be the future of the sport. Cotto tried to muscle around his foe and use his brawling trench war-like attack to wear down the younger Trout, but the plan backfired.
Trout racked up dozens of points with vicious uppercuts on the inside and beautiful counter right hooks whenever he could. As the fight wore on, Trout’s superior stamina and handspeed were too much for Cotto and eventually the future Hall of Famer’s offense eroded and his accuracy depleted.
By the time the final bell sounded, Cotto’s face looked he had been attacked by a wolf and his body language oozed defeat. He tried his damnedest to stop the rising star from using his name as a doormat, but he simply couldn’t pull it off. As it turned out, Trout was too young, too fast and too accurate inside the ring and Cotto was in over his head.
It happens to the best of ‘em.
Cotto lost the fight via unanimous decision by the tallies of 117-111 (twice) and an inexplicable 119-109 (then again, that score did come from Adalaide Byrd, which is per the norm). He said a few scant words to Showtime’s Jim Gray before bolting to the dressing room, obviously heartbroken by the loss and seemingly bitter toward the decision. He appeared to believe he was robbed and said he would fight again, but the real question is should he lace up his gloves in the future.
The general consensus in the several hours since his latest setback is split almost down the middle, but many are calling for Cotto to retire. He’s lost two in a row and three of his last six and that seems to be the strongest arguing point for those in favor of Cotto walking away from competition. But looking closer at the situation at hand, it’s preposterous to think that the 32-year old superstar should consider a second career.
My question to those on the side of Cotto retiring is why? Yes, his face was a mask of horror, but Cotto almost always looks like that following battle. He wasn’t destroyed by Trout, he wasn’t knocked down, he wasn’t knocked out, and he didn’t look like a shopworn former champion who has been sticking around a few years too many. In fact, just the opposite happened.
Cotto’s last fight was against the greatest boxer on the planet of the past 25 years in Floyd Mayweather. It’s true that “Money” won a unanimous decision, but Cotto took the fight to him and kept it very close. In the end, Mayweather said that Cotto was the best opponent he’s faced and that it was the toughest fight of his career. Cotto never looked better in his entire life than when he fought Mayweather and had he been fighting against any other man that night, he would have prevailed.
Though he lost, boxing “experts” generally agreed that Cotto had turned the naysayers away and opened many an eye because he fought so well. These same insiders were claiming Cotto was used up and a shell of his former self after Manny Pacquiao tore him up, but he rebounded against Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga and exacted revenge against cheater Antonio Margarito.
But somehow after losing a close, albeit unanimous, decision to a younger, taller, trickier Austin Trout makes it logical to think that Cotto is suddenly washed up. To think along those lines is ludicrous because Cotto was in every round in that fight, save for the eleventh, and at one point was picking Trout apart. I scored the bout in favor of Trout, but by the closer margin of 116-112. I gave Trout rounds one and two; Cotto rounds three through seven; and then Trout the rest. Some were closer than others, but until Trout really unleashed his offense in the championship rounds, the fight was still hanging in the balance on my card.
Cotto should not retire and I doubt he will. What it boils down to is that he lost to a young superstar in the making and it was a terrific, hotly-contested battle. Not once did I ever think to myself that Cotto was a shot fighter, though Trout did fight better than I expected.
Trout will be around the sport a long time and Cotto will be a viable, top contender for at least another two years. It’s unlikely that he’ll be able to offset the sort of skillsets of Mayweather or Pacquiao or even Trout in a rematch. However, aside from someone like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Cotto will pick apart everybody else in and around his weight class until he officially becomes a shot fighter.
To think he is one right now is absolute nonsense.
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