It’s almost 8 P.M. Central , or 9 P.M. Eastern on Saturday, June 5, 2010, which means in a little over an hour the HBO broadcast of Yuri Foreman’s World Boxing Association Light Middleweight title defense against former World Boxing Organization Welterweight Champion Miguel Cotto begins at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. I was able to interview a fellow literary pugilist—poet David Lawrence who trains boxers at Gleason’s gym and briefly fought professionally many years ago—about the fight. I also communicated with a member of Gleason’s Gym’s White Collar Boxing community, Administrative Law Judge Phil Maier, about the fight. It’s interesting to get a perspective from the two of them, because Foreman trains at Gleason’s. Both Lawrence and Maier pick Foreman to win, believing Cotto is shot from his brutal loss to Antonio Margarito in 2007, followed by his grueling split decision victory over Joshua Clottey and his tortuous loss to Manny Pacquiao last year. Both believe Foreman, who is slick and elusive, will be too fast and defensively sharp for Cotto to handle. Lawrence specified that Foreman can’t knock Cotto out, which makes sense because Foreman has only knocked out 8 of his 28 opponents in an undefeated career. Cotto is known for his knockout power, having stopped 27 of 32 opponents he’s defeated, losing only twice with both losses coming against two of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. I write this story now in order to go on record with what I believe to be an educated prediction before the fight occurs.
I believe Lawrence and Maier are underestimating Cotto. Looking back at Foreman’s climb to the WBA title, I have to say it’s been an admirable effort. He boxed circles around Daniel Santos last November to take the title from him with a 12 round unanimous decision. But after Santos won the title in October 2007, he defended it only once, in July 2008, before fighting again a year and a half later when he lost to Foreman. Cotto may have endured a lot of punishment in the last two years, but he is still a top fighter, and, in spite of his disadvantage in reach—Foreman is listed as 5’-11’’ and Cotto is listed as 5’-7’’—he has exceptional boxing skills. He jabs well, is able to wear opponents down with body shots, and puts together killer combinations including accurately placed uppercuts and hooks. He also effectively switches from an orthodox to a southpaw stance. If he successfully does these things Foreman will be in trouble. Also, in past fights Foreman’s eyes have been dangerously cut and bruised. In fact, when Foreman won the North American Boxing Federation Junior Middleweight title with a split decision over Andrey Tsurkan in December, 2007, I thought he lost. Having said that, though, it has to be noted that Cotto’s eyes have recently shown a tendency to puff up, and Pacquiao proved that he can be controlled with a good stiff jab and fast combinations. Cotto will definitely need to maintain a determined concentration throughout the fight and cut the distance Foreman attempts to establish from the opening bell, but it’s not as unlikely as some may believe. The odds I’ve seen have Cotto slightly favored, but it’s fair to say it’s an even match. My prediction is that Cotto will win, although Foreman certainly has the ability to pull it off.
© Copyright 2010, Mark Connor