While the names Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto will grace the marquee, the real star will be the new Yankee Stadium, which will host its first boxing card. It will be the first New York ballpark fight since September 28, 1976 when Muhammad Ali beat Ken Norton in the final chapter of their trilogy.
Will WBA junior middleweight champion Foreman – an aspiring rabbi – be Cotto’s teacher or will the Puerto Rican star capture his third divisional crown? Each man’s CompuBox history may provide clues.
Pre-Margarito vs. Post-Margarito: For Cotto, the line of demarcation is his TKO loss to the “Tijuana Tornado.” In a fight Cotto led early, Margarito turned it by going 48 of 130 in round seven to Cotto’s 23 of 52. Over the final five, Margarito out-landed Cotto 146-106 overall and 134-70 in power shots en route to a 237-179 bulge in that category. Still, Cotto managed to build a 280-267 edge in total punches and a 101-30 gulf in connected jabs.
In his five welterweight fights before Margarito, Cotto landed 41.2 percent of his 57.1 punches per round, landed 34.1 percent of his 20.5 jabs and 45.3 percent of his 36.6 power punches per round. His opponents (Quintana, Urkal, Judah, Mosley and Gomez) attempted 2.3 fewer punches (54.8), landed 13.8 percent less (27.4), tried 10 more jabs per round to keep him away (30.5) but landed 3.2 fewer per round (3.8). They did have success in power punching. While they threw 12.4 fewer (24.2) per round they landed 46.1 percent of them, 0.8 percent higher than Cotto.
In the three fights after Margarito, Cotto’s figures eroded. His average output has dropped from 57.1 to 53.7 and his accuracy plummeted from 41.2 to 30.1. He’s throwing more jabs (24.8 to 20.5) but landing at a lower rate (25.1 versus 34.1) while in power shots the reverse is true as he is attempting fewer (28.9 to 36.6) and landing at a far lower percentage (34.4 to 45.3).
Meanwhile, the opponents have fared better. They threw more (55.1 to 53.7), landed more (36.8 to 30.1) overall and in power shots they thew more (35.1 to 28.9) and connected at a much higher percentage (45.3 to 34.4).
One major caveat: Cotto’s last three outings were against a mover (Michael Jennings), a shell defense (Joshua Clottey) and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao. Will he regain his mojo against the mobile but light-hitting Foreman? We’ll see.
Foreman’s command and control: Many of Foreman’s 28 fights have followed the same pattern – Foreman using his legs to impose a long-range boxing match and his opponents struggling to catch him. Only eight fights have ended inside the distance but his two knockdowns of then-WBA junior middleweight champion David Santos indicates a power surge.
Despite his kinetic approach, Foreman’s output is low. The typical junior middleweight attempts 58.6 punches per round but his four-bout average against Santos, James Moore, Andrey Tsurkan and Saul Roman Foreman was 44.2. This could hurt him against Cotto, who will come at him with the most complete arsenal he has yet seen as a pro.
The secret to Foreman’s success is his power-punching accuracy, especially against aggressors. He landed 55.3 percent of his 228 power shots against Moore, 45.7 percent of his 208 against Tsurkan, 45.2 percent of his 261 against Roman and 43.2 percent against the southpaw Santos.
Also, despite his movement-oriented style, Foreman’s attack is balanced. Of the four fights profiled two saw him throw more power shots (228-210 against Moore and 261-148 against Roman) while the others were only slightly more jab-heavy (287-208 against Tsurkan and 269-243 against Santos). He will need that balance to gain Cotto’s respect.
Championship experience: This is Cotto’s biggest edge, for 16 of his 36 fights have been for “major” belts. The good news for Foreman is while Cotto has a 149-12 gulf in title-fight rounds the last 24 against Clottey and Pacquiao were debilitating. Will Foreman’s sharp punching exploit Cotto’s scar tissue and his speed expose slow feet? How much pop will Cotto carry to 154 lbs? He’s using 10 oz gloves for the first time.
Prediction: In boxer-versus-puncher matchups, the boxer – especially one four inches taller who has five more inches in reach – usually prevails early and such will be the case here. The true test will come in the fight’s second half. Will Cotto’s celebrated late-round strength emerge? How solid is Foreman’s chin? How resilient is his will? Foreman will learn a lot about himself and he has the skills to trouble Cotto. But Cotto’s experience – and Foreman’s low work rate and power – will help him get a hard-fought decision.