Miguel Cotto Quietly Readies Himself For Sugar Shane Mosley

25.10.07 - Matthew hurley: There is an incident in Miguel Cotto’s young life that doesn’t get brought up much anymore when his fistic career is being discussed and judged. It’s an incident that nearly derailed the Puerto Rican star’s ascension to the upper crust of the boxing world. In August of 2001 Cotto was driving to a workout session at around five o’clock in the morning when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his car into a concrete wall. Cosmetically a scar on his left shoulder is all that remains of what could have been a fatal accident..

“It was serious,” he recalls. “I broke my arm and shoulder in four different places. I guess it could have been worse.” Doctors inserted a six inch titanium rod into his injured arm and then Cotto, after months of physical therapy, returned to the ring in January of 2002 and stopped Joshua Smith in the second round.

The quick turnaround from a potential career ending injury was, in Cotto’s estimation, the result of the great physical shape he was in at the time of the accident and the fact that despite being an orthodox boxer he primarily uses his left hand.

“I’m left handed. The only thing I do with my right hand is when I fight. I feel comfortable fighting right handed but everything else I do with my left.”

After that first comeback bout Cotto strung together a victory list of some tough opponents, including John Brown, Cesar Bazan, Carlos Maussa, Lovemore N’dou and Randall Bailey. Then came two fights that tested Cotto’s mettle. He was hurt badly against both DeMarcus Corley and Ricardo Torres. Despite beating both fighters and coming up off the deck against Torres in a wild shootout, the critics pounced. He was now being questioned for his slow feet, one dimensional attack and suspect chin. But the stoic Cotto trudged onward and upwards into the welterweight division and the added weight and the knowledge that he had the recuperative powers to deal with heavy handed fighters turned him into an even more ferocious and intimidating presence in the ring. He became that relentless stalker, a brick wall moving ever forward, allowing small pieces to be chipped away from his armor but never altering his aggressive assault.

Both Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah experienced intermittent success against the onrushing bull of a fighter but were eventually beaten up or beaten down. Cotto will apply the same type of attack against his next opponent Sugar Shane Mosley on November 10th at Madison Square Garden. The bout is being billed as “Fast & Furious” with Mosley donning the former sobriquet and Cotto the latter. However, despite Mosley’s blazing hand and foot speed (both of which aren’t quite what they once were) he remains a boxer/puncher who loves to step into the pocket and fight. He would also like nothing less than to match his supposedly superior body punching nemesis with wicked rib shots of his own.

“Sometimes I don’t use the body attack as much as I should,” he said in a recent promotional film. “I’m a very good body puncher and I think I’ll use it in this fight.”

Cotto, always stone-faced and respectful in interviews, invites Mosley to trade with him. It would certainly make his job easier if his clever opponent isn’t sticking and moving. But should Mosley revert back to his boxer mode after testing Cotto’s chin and body early, Miguel has proven quite adept at cutting off the ring.

“My attack is always consistent. It doesn’t change. I try to win the fight round by round and if the knockout comes, it comes.”

Cotto has also proven his star potential in successive bouts at Madison Square Garden where a vast Puerto Rican contingent sells the hallowed arena out whenever he steps into the ring. His last fight against Judah forced Garden officials to open up the mezzanine for the rush of 21,000 ticket buyers – the first time that has ever happened for a fight at the famed Garden. The Mosley fight is even more hotly anticipated and features a fantastic undercard which includes Antonio Margarito, Joel Casamayor and Victor Ortiz.

Cotto realizes that his fight against Mosley will be the toughest of his young career and he also realizes that in order to be mentioned alongside Puerto Rican icons like Wilfred Benitez and Felix Trinidad he must defeat Shane and he must defeat him impressively. Still, you will never hear a derogatory remark aimed at any fighter Cotto faces, in particular one whom he truly respects.

“I have to be at my very best against Shane because he is a great fighter. He has already accomplished so much in this sport. I have always dreamed of being one of the great champions from Puerto Rico, this fight is important for that. I am now on my way.”

Article posted on 25.10.2007

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