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Bert Sugar on Miguel Cotto's Career, Past and Present

By Chris Robinson

At the moment Miguel Cotto’s name is resonating very loudly due to his two-city press tour with edgy Nicaraguan Ricardo Mayorga. The trash-talking Mayorga has had some hateful words to say and the WBA junior middleweight champion has responded accordingly, leaving the press with much to hang onto after stops in New York and Puerto Rico.

Cotto defends his belt against Mayorga on March 12th at the MGM Grand in a fight that could lead to eventual rematches with the only two men to defeat him, Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao. Cotto has shown himself to have great perseverance in bouncing back from defeat and the stage seems set for him to make a glorious run as his career winds down.

I recently reached out to well-respected boxing historian Bert Sugar to get his take on the impressions left by Cotto over the years. The New York scribe and I discussed Miguel’s early foray with Top Rank, his tear through the welterweight division, his bouts with Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Pacquiao and Margarito plus much more.

Continue reading for all of Sugar’s thoughts…

Early impressions…
“He was one of the best pro prospects coming out of the Olympics. Although he didn’t win and let it be known that many great fighters didn’t win. [Bob Arum’s] stepson Todd duBoef picked him out of a class of potentials and he had potential greatness. I thought this was a brawler. This was a steady, well-built, brawler who came to fight.”

His wild war with Ricardo Torres…
“Cotto can be hit and he just comes back and back. I watched that fight on television to be honest. Which is sort of like eating a ham sandwich with the wax paper on it; you really don’t get the true feel of it.”

Has Puerto Rico embraced Cotto ?
“They [have]. But they still have, if they will, a feeling for Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad and Wilfredo Gomez. In my new book ‘The Ultimate Book of Boxing Lists’, we have the greatest Puerto Rican fighters of all time by Mario Rivera and he ranks him number six. Tito is number two.”

Going through early hell with Zab Judah…
“I was at [that fight]. He brought his own cheering section. You can say that Miguel Cotto isn’t as popular in Puerto Rico but he sure is in New York. Well he took great punches from Judah in the early rounds. Like the Timex clock he took a licking and he kept on ticking. He went at him and he wore him down. Body punches, punches to the head. He’s there for you but he’s there for himself.”

Answering the call against Shane Mosley…
“When he out jabbed ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, who is known for his jab. I thought ‘I don’t believe this’. I just thought that he out pointed him. He went in as an underdog and he just turned the tables on Shane. Close fight but one in which he stood up and answered the call. And he’s had to do that every step of the way.”

Reaching out…
“He had one thing in his favor; unlike Tito Trinidad, he learned English. Trinidad never did. It wasn’t a business sense; it was a sense of reaching out to a potential audience. I always thought Duran would have been a much more accepted and greater fighter out of his realm of Latino fans had he learned to speak English. But Cotto went out of his way to learn it.”

Writing on the wall against Antonio Margarito…
“It wasn’t heartbreaking. I wouldn’t put it that way. You could see it coming. Margarito let him hit him with everything. You had a feeling that what Cotto was doing in the early rounds was equivalent to throwing the kitchen sink at him. And he was still there. You knew at one point that he was going to turn the tables and he did.”

I don’t know if it was tainted but it’s a question. Nobody’s ever going to know except for Margarito and his trainer. You just had the feeling that if he had loaded gloves in one fight he had to have it in others. Connect the dots.”

His November 2009 loss to Manny Pacquiao…
“I thought he was running into a buzz saw. I didn’t think it would be that devastating, where he got knocked down early. He was fighting over his head than. It was a step up at that point. He went from fighting A to A+ and A+ won.”

Returning against Yuri Foreman…
“He went up and he won a fight for the junior middleweight championship against Foreman. That was no fight. I don’t care if he had ten legs. I couldn’t see him losing and I didn’t give Foreman a round. And he still brought to Yankee Stadium, sort of the Cotto rooting section. They were all there. And they accept him and root for him because he is theirs. Particularly since he learned English.”

The kind of fighter you respect...
“I think he still can become great as those who saw him in the beginning thought he could. Every fight makes it into a battle. Every fight is a do or die. He’s the kind of fighter you really respect and look for in boxing. He’s the kind of fighter we need. He gives us that same almost unidentifiable intangible that made Arturo Gatti such a favorite. He’s a better fighter than Gatti and at the same token he comes back and keeps fighting. And you’ve got to like that as a fight fan.”

Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. An archive of his work can be found here , and he can be reached at [email protected]

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User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Giovanni18 on 01-23-2011

[QUOTE=Giovanni18;9996829]wow this a cute reversal by Bert Sugar...regarding Cotto's return against Foreman he was singing a different tune before the fight. I met him for the first time outside the Garden going in to see Cotto-Foreman and I asked him…

Comment by Giovanni18 on 01-23-2011

[QUOTE=BIGPOPPAPUMP;9992727]At the moment Miguel Cotto’s name is resonating very loudly due to his two-city press tour with edgy Nicaraguan Ricardo Mayorga. The trash-talking Mayorga has had some hateful words to say and the WBA junior middleweight champion has responded accordingly,…

Comment by Eladio-Mor on 01-23-2011

[QUOTE=Iceta Lives;9994710]Cotto to his credit isn't a clincher. But even though it isn't in this thread in particular I've heard Merchant say the same exact thing about Cotto praising him for boxing against Mosley when in reality he ran and…

Comment by prsi on 01-22-2011

[QUOTE=Iceta Lives;9994710]Cotto to his credit isn't a clincher. But even though it isn't in this thread in particular I've heard Merchant say the same exact thing about Cotto praising him for boxing against Mosley [B]when in reality he ran and…

Comment by lluisone on 01-22-2011

"cotto is a good fighter but margarito .....****ed him with the trap and plasters":boxing:

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