Miguel Cotto vs. Zab Judah: More Than Meets the Eye
08.06.07 - By Andrew ďDrewĒ Huntley: Welcome the first of what will hopefully be a regular weekly column. In many cases, Iíll be discussing forgotten fighters, and fights from years past, but, since this weekend will feature one of the better welterweight match-ups that Iíve seen in quite some time, so I figured that itís appropriate to give my thoughts on this encounter.
Article posted on 10.06.2007
So, without further ado, letís discuss the upcoming bout thatís scheduled to take place between Miguel Cotto ( 29-0, 24 KOís) and Zab ďSuperĒ Judah (34-4, 25 KOís). Cotto is the reigning WBA welterweight titleholder and an impressive victory over would clear the way for big money fights against the likes of Shane Mosley or the winner of the upcoming Antonio Margarito/Paul Williams match-up.
Judah, of course, is a former champion in both the junior welterweight, and welterweight divisions; and, a victory over Cotto would go a long way toward re-establishing him as a legitimate force in the 147lb division.
On the surface, it appears that Judah has the edge in several important categories. Heís much fleeter of foot than the Puerto Rican, and he possesses the quicker hands, as well. When so inclined, he can be an elusive target, and can string multi-punch combinations together in the blink of an eye. Those factors alone make this a difficult fight for Cotto; and thatís not even taking into consideration that Judah carries in both hands.
So, taking all of this into account, it would seem that Judah should have a fairly easy time of it. After all, he can use his legs to move in and out of punching range, and get his shots off before Cotto can respond with any of his own punches. Easy fight, right?
Miguel Cotto is best known for his crushing power, punishing body attack, and the relentless pressure that he asserts upon his opponents- but it would be a mistake to assume that heís simply a one-dimensional slugger. In most of his fights, heís shown a willingness to work his way into punching range behind a pretty effective jab, and has shown the ability to slip punches, and counter with his own powerful blows on a number of occasions. In fact, heís shown the ability to switch stances, and work effectively from the southpaw position in fights against Demetrio Ceballos and Carlos Quintana.
Much has been made of Cottoís lack of defense, and his suspect chin, but, itís instructive to note that in the cases where he was stunned, he was trying to finish off his opponents, and was caught as a result. In general, heís shown much greater patience since that time, so itís certainly not as likely that heíll be caught with one of Judahís counters as it might have been a couple of years ago.
But, in my opinion, the biggest factor in this match-up is their mental make-up. When Cotto was stunned in the DeMarcus Corley and Ricardo Torres fights, he didnít panic- in fact, he roared back to score stoppages in both of those fights. Heís proved that he can come back from adverse situations to win a fight. Quite frankly, the same canít really be said for his opponent. When things donít go Judahís way, he tends to get frustrated, and suffers lapses in concentration that lead to openings in his defense. When you factor in the fact that Judah doesnít possess the greatest of chins, and his disturbing tendency to fade in the late rounds of his fights, then this match-up doesnít seem nearly as one-sided as it did initially.
Itís pretty much a given that Judahís going to have success in the early rounds, but I think Cottoís underrated boxing skill will see him through some rough moments; and, by the middle rounds, heíll be able to implement his body attack. This will begin to frustrate ďSuperĒ Judah- and we know what generally happens in those situations. I think the same thing happens in this fight as well, and thatís why Iím picking Cotto to stop Judah in the later rounds.
There are many cases where the outcome of a boxing match is determined by factors that arenít readily apparent. This is once of those cases.
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