Brotherman’s Take On Miguel Cotto

By Robert Lashley

If there is a case to be made for Miguel Cotto’s place in the pantheon of Puerto Rican fighters, it can be made in his best moments in this
fight. He went up against a game, capable pro in Joshua Clottey, a tough technician who had the night of his life. A clear (but not overwhelming) underdog, Clottey outworked him on the inside, raked him over the head with a good sneak right, and appeared to have the fight in control by dominating rounds seven, eight, and nine. Yet in the championship rounds, Cotto clicked; willing himself past a deep, ugly cut, to steal round 10 and clearly outbox him in the 11th in 12th. It was in these moments, and the moments in rounds four and six where he dominated Clottey along the ropes, where he showed you why so many have thought him to be a special fighter.

There was not enough of those moments, however, to make a case that he convincingly won this fight. Although I had him winning 114-113, Cotto took far too many shots to be considered among the PFP elite. He ate enough rights and uppercuts to remind you that (prospective opponents) Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao throw those punches better than anyone else in boxing; and that he doesn’t have a chance against the both of them. Even in his best nights, Cotto’s accrued a fair amount of punishment, taking one to get two against fighters like Ricardo Torres, Zab Judah, and Shane Mosley. Against Clottey, he looked like a fighter that’s taken one punch too many; too tentative, a step slow, unable to get away from combinations he would elude a year or two before.

Watching Cotto tonight, I was reminded of Meldrick Taylor’s title defenses against Glenwood Brown and Luis Garcia in the early 90’s; life and death affairs where his bravery exceeded his fading skill. I don’t think that Cotto’s fate will go the way of Taylor’s, whose life is tragic enough for a John Edgar Wideman novel. Cotto’s fate is a fighter, however, is a different story.