ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Miguel Cotto puts his WBA welterweight title on the line on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall on HBO against former "Contender" star Alfonso S. Gomez. Here is what each man has to do to win:
KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Assert himself. Cotto needs to show Gomez early that he's facing a different caliber of opponent by putting pressure on from the start.
1. Avoid toe-to-toe shootout. Gomez is fearless and loves to scrap, but that figures to play into Cotto's hands.
2. Work the body. Cotto may have the best body attack in boxing since Mike McCallum. He needs to use it frequently to wear down Gomez.
2. Earn respect. Gomez can't allow Cotto to bully him, so he needs to land something hard when Cotto comes barreling in to make the champion somewhat cautious.
3. Hook off the jab. Cotto's money punch is his left hook. If he hooks off his jab, he'll catch Gomez trying to land the overhand right.
3. Slick feet. Gomez shouldn't run, but he should move laterally in different directions to force Cotto to reset his attack.
4. Fast pace. Cotto should try to force Gomez into a slugfest, as his size and strength should take over in that scenario.
4. Give angles. Gomez needs to remember never to give Cotto a clear or easy target. Providing angles and giving Cotto as little to shoot at as possible would be a wise move.
RATING THE FIGHTERS
This is a comparison of WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto and challenger Alfonso Gomez on a rating of 1 to 10 in several categories:
Fighters rarely are the same after meeting Cotto.
Gomez is going to need a strong jab if he is to pull the upset.
Cotto is the best in the game at breaking down an opponent to the body.
Speed and quickness
Cotto showed surprisingly fast hands against Shane Mosley.
Cotto is improving at picking off punches and using his jab as a defensive weapon.
Gomez fought at middleweight in "The Contender" and was able to hang in there.
Cotto proved against Shane Mosley he can go 12 hard rounds against a quality opponent.
Cotto is maturing into a complete fighter
Though there have been reports of a rift with his uncle/trainer, Evangelista Cotto, the two work well together and Cotto says all is fine.
Gomez knows this may be his last shot, and he's desperate to get what could be a career-defining win.
Cotto is too strong and too skilled for Gomez, who has been fighting C-class opposition. Take Cotto by stoppage in the first half of the fight.