SAN DIEGO – October 4, 2013 – Four-time world champion Miguel Cotto has his place secured in boxing history. The pride of Puerto Rican fight fans and millions more has earned his record honestly. He has always been willing to fight the best. Mayweather. Pacquiao. Margarito, twice. Mosley. Judah. Cotto did more damage to Floyd Mayweather than any opponent in recent memory while losing a unanimous decision.
Cotto’s defeat at the hands of Austin Trout by unanimous decision in December was all the more shocking considering Cotto’s strong performance against Mayweather in May 2012 and his destruction of Antonio Margarito prior to the Mayweather fight. It was Cotto’s first loss after seven victories in Madison Square Garden, virtually his hometown ring.
Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs) had to seriously ask himself whether it was time to retire. The answer, happily for his many fans, was no. Time for a change of scene. Cotto signed on with legendary trainer Freddie Roach, and went to work at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles.
Cotto will fight against Delvin Rodriguez (28-6-3, 16 KOs) of the Dominican Republic via Connecticut on Saturday night in the first boxing event at the new Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Ten-thousand people are expected to attend, many of them devoted Cotto fans from Puerto Rico.
The 12-round super welterweight fight is as important as any championship fight for Cotto. A victory puts him right back in the hunt for a big-name contest. Most expect it to be a May 2014 bout against reigning middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, a crowd-pleasing matchup fans are eager to see. It could also be a classic Puerto Rico vs. Mexico battle against Canelo Alvarez. Three losses in a row will do serious damage to Cotto’s career, if not his legacy.
Trainer Freddie Roach could sorely use a victory himself after losses by his most celebrated boxer, Manny Pacquiao, as well as Amir Khan and Julio Caesar Chavez Jr. (both of whom have moved on). Don’t count the defeat by Timothy Bradley of Ruslan Provodnikov, who put Bradley on the canvas and nearly beat him in a Fight of the Year bout in March. Provodnikov gets a shot against Mike Alvarado in Denver on October 19.
Rodriguez doesn’t care if he messes up the plan. He’s a determined fighter who will keep coming forward. He won the admiration of hardcore fans with one of those punishing brawls in a rematch against Polish boxer Pawel Wolak two years ago, and it’s worth looking up if you didn’t see it. He followed up with a loss to Austin Trout in a unanimous decision, so he’s got this in common with Cotto.
Rodriguez is not a knockout artist. He’s a fighter who wears his opponent down. Cotto is built to take punishment, and with his warrior mentality he won’t be afraid to get all up in Rodriguez’ grill. It will be a toe to toe fight, perhaps not the phone booth variety but a close quarters battle. How about that for loading up the boxing cliches?
Having suffered last week through some dull bouts, fans should tune in and enjoy watching a great champion in the ring who has earned the respect of the boxing community and all of his fans through his commitment to the sport at the highest level. Cotto never gives less than everything, never shortchanges the fans, and never ducks a challenge. Who could possibly ask more from a competitor?
Cotto weighed in at 153.2 pounds, Rodriguez right at the 154 pound limit.
In the televised undercard bout, the undefeated Terence Crawford (21-0-0, 16 KOs) continues his rise through the lightweight ranks in a 10-round bout against another undefeated lightweight, Andrey Klimov (16-0-0, 8 KOs). Crawford scored a sixth round TKO against Alejandro Sanabria of Mexico in June on the Garcia/Lopez undercard, and defeated Breidis Prescott in March on the undercard of Rios-Alvarado II. Both fighters weighed in at 134.6 pounds.
Crawford is one of the few boxers you’ll ever meet from Omaha, Nebraska. Someone should have called this fight the Big Red Battle. I guess someone just did.
Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez, “Reloaded,” airs on HBO on Saturday at 9:45 p.m. ET. See the undercard fights live online at http://www.toprank.com/livestream
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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