By Mike Indri
Retired Boxers Foundation
The fight was super-hyped, and rightfully so, as undefeated welterweight world champion Miguel Cotto was facing his most difficult challenge in four-time, three-division former world champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley, for Cotto’s World Boxing Association title belt.
Madison Square Garden, the “Mecca of Boxing”, would once again play host for Cotto and his quest for greatness. While not a sell-out, 17,135 boisterous and proud Puerto Rican fans would cram their way through the turnstiles, they would not be let down - neither would co-promoters Bob Arum or Oscar De La Hoya, as initial reports of the gross gate figures came in at over 3.8 million dollars!
The fight itself, an exciting, intriguing good twelve rounder, may not have lived up to all the pomp and circumstance, but Miguel Cotto truly did. The classy, hard punching Cotto earned his unanimous decision win and proved he belongs amongst the top of the talent laden welterweight list.
Cotto was in with a truly great fighter. Shane Mosley, the only fighter to have twice beaten De La Hoya, has always been a lethally dangerous combination of speed, precision and deceptive power. With his two technical knockout victories over Fer-nando Vargas in 2006 and his dominatingly brilliant twelve round unanimous decision win against Luis Collazo in his most recent bout, Mosley had proven to all the skeptics that “Sugar” was back to his sweet self.
Fighting against the thirty six year-old elite level former champion who feasts off of making good, and great, fighters look bad, Miguel Cotto looked very good.
Using a good mixture of jabs, body punching and constant pressure Cotto seemed to effectively counter Mosley’s quicker hands and appeared to be wearing down the Pomona, CA. fighter. Mosley would later say that his desire to fight and go for the knockout may have hurt, more than help, but a couple of big shots from Mosley caught Cotto on the ropes in round nine and did hurt the Puerto Rican champion.
As quickly as Mosley’s stingers were bouncing off of Cotto’s head did the party-like atmosphere in boxing’s most hallowed venue abruptly change from rabid delirium to hushed concern. The bell sounding the end of round nine brought sighs of relief and nervous cheers.
While tired and hurting, this was when the true greatness of Miguel Cotto emerged again, as it had before in earlier battles. An ability that cannot be taught or trained is that of a fighter’s heart, and even while battling as a prospect and then contender, before winning his titles, Miguel Cotto has always shown his heart of a champion.
Miguel Cotto’s championship performance hoisted him into boxing’s highest echelon - that exclusive list of today’s truly GREAT fighters.
Another good night to be a boxing fan, a jam packed Madison Square Garden witnessing Miguel Cotto’s rise to true greatness. A December 8th win by pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, over Ricky Hatton, would set up another fight of mega-fight proportions. 2007 has been a great year for boxing, and the future looks even better!
Mike Indri can be contacted at RBFMIKE@aol.com.