COMMENTARY | Miguel Cotto is the oldest 32-year-old in boxing. After twelve years as a pro, the Puerto Rican battler has been through it all, seen it all, and has lived the sport like few others in this era of pampered fighters with bulging bank accounts. At one point he was the young, unstoppable fighting machine who then became the consummate professional, the conquered warrior, the reborn veteran, and, most recently, the gatekeeper to the elite. Now, he's back once again and looking to not only keep his career going, but to possibly have one more full championship run on what many think is his career's second or third wind.
On October 5 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, Cotto will face tough fringe contender Delvin Rodriguez in the first step of what he hopes to be a climb back to a world title. At his side will be new trainer Freddie Roach, former promoter (and now promoting partner) Top Rank, and, as usual, the massive support of hardcore Puerto Rican fight fans everywhere.
So far, very early into the journey, Cotto has seemed energized and upbeat about his return to the ring and to the life-consuming sport that has brought him both glory and immense pain.
"I miss it,"Cotto said at Tuesday's press conference to officially announce the Rodriguez fight. "I've been away from boxing for a long time, it's been since last December and it's great to be back. It's great to feel the energy. You guys being here today. I'm going to L.A. for the first time in my career to train and I'm going to bring my best. Every morning at the track, every day at the gym to come here in the the best way possible to make a great fight for all of you, all the fans here and all over the world. I hope Delvin had a great camp, I'm going to have a great camp to make a great fight for all you fans. Thank you."
Cotto recognizes that he only has about three fights left in him, but clearly feels confident that he can turn around a two-fight losing skid and eventually get back to the top of the junior middleweight food chain. Recent loses to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout had many thinking that the three-division former world champ was just about done and, frankly, content to be done. Even new trainer, Roach, was one of those who doubted Cotto's fire.
"My only worry is, does he have the desire to do this stuff anymore?" Roach told ESPN shortly after joining Team Cotto. "I'll know quick...I saw his last two fights, and I don't know if he really cared. He just wasn't the same guy to me that I have seen...I said he needs to get that drive and hunger back. I told him, 'I can help you with that, but it's really up to you.'"
Cotto insists that the fire is back and that he's serious about closing out his career on top. The option was there to be a high-paid fall guy for "Canelo" Alvarez at some point in early to mid-2014, but the fighter from Caguas, Puerto Rico obviously envisions a much more glorious ending to a truly terrific run as a pro.
In his career, Cotto has been bludgeoned by Antonio Margarito, beaten by Manny Pacquiao, and outclassed by Floyd Mayweather. Lesser defeats have broken greater fighters, but Cotto is a true warrior in every sense of the word. Facing long odds, he is willing to turn down big money as a professional opponent and bet on his own grit and resolve to finish things his way, on his terms. Whether this move turns out to be the best one for his own bottom line remains to be see, but the gamble is indeed admirable.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Sources: Fightnews, ESPN
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