By Chris Robinson
WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto is just days away before his scheduled departure for Las Vegas, Nevada. Cotto defends his crown against wild slugger Ricardo Mayorga on March 12th at the MGM Grand.
Training the Puerto Rican for his second consecutive fight, is world renown trainer Emanuel Steward. The duo had great success on their first collaboration, stopping Belarus' Yuri Foreman in the 9th round with a cracking left hook to the body last June at Yankee Stadium. Although is should be noted that Foreman had injured his leg in the seventh round, Cotto was still able to display a solid attack in his first fight at 154 pounds.
In Mayorga, Cotto may likely have his hands full in the opening rounds. The rude Nicaraguan has a penchant for swinging early and often, with his power definitely being something to watch out for. While Cotto could be in line for big fights against Antonio Margarito, the first man to defeat him two and a half years ago, and middleweight king Sergio Martinez, he speaks like a consummate professional when assessing his early preparation for Mayorga.
“We are having a good training camp," said Cotto. "We know that we need to be in great condition to do what we want to do in the ring. Mayorga is a wild puncher and you have to be very concentrated at all times. He’s a big puncher and will try to use his power, but we will be ready for whatever he brings that night."
Steward has had a track record of rejuvenating fighters' careers, as seen with heavyweight champions Lennox Lewis and most recently Wladimir Klitschko, and has seemed to give Cotto a new sense of life following his November 2009 TKO loss to Manny Pacquiao. Cotto admits that it is always a learning process but you can sense how valuable Steward is to him at this point in his career.
"I feel very good working with him," Cotto noted. "He wants me to go back to my boxing style and it’s working very well. This is our second camp together and we are getting to know each other and working much better together this time around."
Steward surprised many by revealing that he didn't know what to expect when he took the challenge of trying to pick up the pieces that came after the Pacquiao defeat, but said that he couldn't have been more pleased with his charge's commitment and fortitude while in camp. Cotto means a lot to Steward at this point, with each of them being completely open about wanting rematches with Pacquiao and Margarito down the road, but before anything they must get past Mayorga in less than three weeks time.
"Miguel was always a beautiful boxer and I am trying to get him back to doing that more," said Steward. "Mayorga is wild and throws punches from everywhere and that's the biggest challenge for Miguel in this fight. We are working better this second time around because we know each other better. He is very smart is open to everything I bring to him."