Cotto left hook to the body stops Foreman

boxingBy Paul Strauss: The fight ending punch was no surprise. Miguel Cotto's signature punch has always been the great debilitating left hook to the kidney, liver or solar plexus. Something of a surprise was the fact that it took him until 42 seconds of the 9th round to get it done.

Up until that time, Yuri Foreman just wasn't there to be hit. Almost every time Miguel tried to throw the clean up hook, he would have to pull up, because Yuri would have already moved out of range. You got the feeling, though, that it was just a matter of time.

Going into tonight's big event at the new Yankee Stadium, boxing fans had to wonder whether this was really going to be a good fight? Cotto was the big favorite with the odds makers, and the only remaining question concerning him was whether he had been too severely hurt in his losses to Pacquiao and Margarito to have regained his former skills..

Announcer Mac Kellerman stated it well in the pre-fight commentary, when he said many times fight night becomes more of a social event than necessarily a good night of boxing. As an example he pointed out the successful night at the Dallas Cowboys new billion dollar plus stadium for the Pacquiao vs. Clottey fight, which was a huge success, despite the fact that it was a one-sided victory for PacMan.

For tonight's social event, you not only had the new Yankee Stadium to hype, but also the idea that Foreman was the first world champion from Israel. He also is an exception to the boxing norm in that he is studying to be a rabbi. Equally incredible as a personal side story is the fact that he learned much of his skill as a youthful jew by training and sparring with arabs. On the Cotto side, you had someone, who had previously been consdered great, only to watch him suffer two devastating losses. Thrown into the mix was his falling out with his uncle/trainer, and then the tragic death of his father. Miguel needed a new start, and hired hall of fame trainer Emanuel Stewart to get him back on track. One last important ingredient for a successful night was the huge Puerto Rico and Jewish following these two fighters brought to this wonderful outside setting. (When's the last time you heard a ram's horn being blown before a fight?) It was definitely a throw back to days of old when Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Rocky Marciano showcased their greatness in the house that Ruth built.

The fight itself started off somewhat predictably. There was lot's of movement from Yuri, who looked a bit tight and nervous. Miguel stalked him and looked to set things up with a jab. It was obvious that

Yuri was going to try and employ a counter right hand, but he only threw it a couple of times, and that was toward the end of the first round and he missed..

Yuri's corner told him to use his own jab. They also wanted him to be ready to catch Miguel with counters when he would jump in after throwing his jab. Specifically, they wanted him to step to his right and throw the counter right hand as either a straight punch or an uppercut. In the second round, Yuri did manage to land one good right, but it was a lead right and not a counter. Many of Cotto's punches were hitting Yuri's gloves, but the force of the shots was still causing concussive damage to Yuri. Chalk up the first two rounds for Cotto.

The third round was busier for Yuri, and even Manny Stewart told Cotto between rounds that Yuri might have won it, so he wanted Cotto to regain control. Yuri had landed one particularly good right hand in the round.

As the fight progressed, Yuri's corner continued to impress upon him that he needed to jab more, and catch Cotto jumping in with short punches. Cotto was still making good use of his own jab, which he was throwing over the top of Yuri's right glove. The fourth round was a good round for both. Cotto kept up the pressure and Yuri continued to move well, and landed some pretty good counters, but he still wasn't using his jab enough. By the end of the fifth round, Manny told Miguel that he thought Yuri was already slowing down, and he suggested that would give Miguel more opportunities.

By this time, Yuri maybe had won one round, possibly two if you wanted to be generous. But, in the seventh round, things really got interesting, because when Yuri moved laterally to his right, his right knee rebelled and moved back toward his left. It was painful to watch, let alone experience. If you've ever had a knee go out, you know how excruciating the pain can be. A feeling of dread kept into the stadium......Was this the end of the fight?

Referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. knew he was dealing with a champion and former champion, and wanted to give them every opportunity under the rules to continue, so he explained to Yuri that he had up to five minutes to suck it up and walk it off to use his words. Yuri wanted to continue, but his mobility was about zilch! But, he was still trying to punch. Meanwhile, Cotto pounced on him, and threw some wicked shots to the head and body. Later in the round, Yuri slipped and his knee gave way, but he got up, and agreed to continue. He was determined to tough it out. He made it until the end of the round, but then lamely struggled back to his corner with a bad knee and a cut over his right eye.

He still was determined to continue, so he struggled out for the eighth, but it was like watching a sitting duck being used for target practice. Cotto was practically drooling at the sight of his prey. In the middle of an exchange, all of a sudden in flys a white towel, which normally signals surrender. Immediately the ring filled with miscellaneous people, and it looked as if the fight was over. Referee Arther Mercante, Jr. wasn't sure what had just happened. He thought it odd that someone would have thrown in a towel at that moment because both fighters were punching? He asked Yuri if he wanted to continue, and he checked with the corner as well, and got the impression that the towel was sailed into the ring by an "outsider"?

. Hence, Mercante, Jr. ordered everyone out of the ring, and he instructed the fighters and the judges, and corner people that the fight was going to continue. Once the ring was cleared, he gave the fighters time to pace back and forth a bit to get their rthythm back, and to stay loose. Then he signalled to the timekeeper to start the clock. It was painful watching Yuri struggle to keep fighting, but keep fighting he did. He even landed a few shots, but given the fact that he is a light puncher, it only made matters worse that his injured knee prevented him not only from moving but also from setting his feet to put any pop into his shots. Consequently Miguel was coming on like the proverbial freight train. Yet, Yuri made it through another round.

Forty-two seconds into the 9th round, Miguel threw a right, which cause Yuri to bend in and bring his gloves and arms up to block. That exposed his rib cage, and Miguel fired the telling left hook that dug into Yuri's right kidney. This time Yuri went down because of a new kind of pain, and it was obvious he wasn't going to be able to continue. Referee Mercante, Jr. had seen enough and stepped in and mercifully stopped the suffering. .

In the post fight interview, Cotto told Kellerman he wanted to rest for a few months, and then it didn't matter who he fought next, but it "must be a big name.......only big names". As an after thought, Max Kellerman suggested that that probably didn't include Paul Williams or Sergio Martinez. Probably good advice. Either would give anyone a hard time, but in particularly someone like Cotto, who would be giving up a lot of height and reach, and still be dealing to very fast sharp punching fighters. Well, Miguel can sit back and take it easy and let Bob Arum worry about that.

The undercard proved to be very entertaining as well. Two undefeated junior middleweights put on a good show. Vanes Martirosyan boxed masterfully in gaining a UD over his former amatuer foe Joe Greene. Both fighters are very quick, and they know each other well. Martirosyan demonstrated that he has a good heart, because the few times he got caught with a clean shot, he came right back with several of his own. Already by the second round, Martirosyan was landing lead rights, and multiple straight rights.

In the third, Greene was able to step up the pressure a bit, and he did unload a few unanswered combinations, but in between rounds, trainer Freddie Roach cautioned Martirosyan that he should step things up, and not let Greene gain any momentum. Martirosyan followed that advice, and once again kept Greene off balance.

At times, both fighters stung each other with good shots, but Martirosyan was the busier and cleaner puncher of the two. By the end of the ten round fight, it was obvious to even Greene's corner that their fighter needed a knock out to win. However, in the tenth, it was Greene who touched the canvas. He missed his own right (from the southpaw stance), and Martirosyan threw a counter left hook. Greene had pulled himself off balance, and as a result, his back was to Martirosyan when the knockdown punch landed. Consequently, it clubbed Greene to the back of the head. He stumbled forward and fell to the canvas. He wasn't hurt, but Referee Steve Smoger had no choice but to score a knockdown. The fight ended shortly thereafter. Judge Julie Lederman seemed to have the best handle on the action. She scored it 98-91. The other two judges had it 96-93. Greene was definitely in the fight, and didn't suffer any kind of beating, so underdoubtedly, even in defeat, he will come out of the fight with lessons learned and become an even better fighter. All in all a very good night of boxing.

Article posted on 07.06.2010

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