Miguel Cotto reestablished himself as a Junior Middleweight star this past weekend against ESPN mainstay Delvin Rodriguez. Rodriguez was overmatched athletically and technically, to be sure, but in the same way he’s won fans in the past, Rodriguez began trading with Cotto even as he was overwhelmed. Granted Cotto clearly landed the more accurate and destructive shots, and even rattled Rodriguez by the end of the round, but this was only the end of round one. The first exchange, in the first few seconds of round 2 brought Rodriguez to the ground, but even before he touched the canvas, the referee had called off the fight as if he had been taking sustained combination punching with no response. Maybe I’m being too picky with a fight that wouldn’t have gone any other way regardless, but doesn’t calling a fight because it looks like one guy will probably win kind of defeat the purpose? Especially big name fights are completely dependent on a suspension of disbelief that the underdog won’t just be demolished immediately and that he could hang on and land the right punch. Mayweather fights are a great example, which of his last ten bouts shouldn’t have been called in the first few seconds of round two if this is truly the way fights should be called? His most competitive opponents usually looked no more than mediocre, even while he was still warming up in the early rounds.
The most disturbing part of the result is that now instead of being put in against a game opponent, the media has gone over the edge with proclamations that Cotto is back at the top of the division ready to fight the elite. We don’t expect a Pacquiao or Mayweather rematch, so we’re left with two likely disastrous scenarios. If Cotto takes on Alvarez, he’ll be systematically dismantled by the larger, more technically proficient fighter. If he takes on Martinez, a similar result will occur, but possibly with less danger of permanent physical damage. Either way, HBO and boxing writers are hyping a fighter just because they know the publicity will draw viewers. It’s a dead-end for Cotto. We never saw whether Rodriguez could compete with him, but we know Cotto can’t go much further either way. I had forgotten how exciting it is to watch him fight. I just hope Roach doesn’t confuse him enough to try for a fight that will diminish his already impressive legacy.
This weekend the big fight between Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez should inject some excitement back into the sport. Bradley’s last reckless melee with Provodnikov will likely influence his approach to Marquez and result in a calculated boxing match. The action will still heat up from time to time, I’m sure, and if Marquez is on top of his game, it should be a very competitive fight. I expect Bradley’s hand speed, footwork and defense to save him from the Marquez counter punch and get him a decision.