Mailbag: Welterweights are ring kings

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey not only proved their courage as fighters and their skill as boxers on Saturday in their World Boxing Organization welterweight title fight in Madison Square Garden, but they also showed how far the 147-pound class has lapped the rest of the field in the sport.

The welterweight division easily goes 15 deep, which no other division can boast. Cotto won a split decision Saturday to keep his belt. Don Trella had it 116-111 and John McKaie had it 115-112 for Cotto. Tom Miller favored Clottey, 114-113.

I had the fight even after 11 rounds, but gave Cotto the 12th to give him the fight, 114-113. Had Clottey managed to stay on his feet after getting hit with a Cotto jab late in the first round, the fight would have been a split draw.

All three judges scored the first 10-8 for Cotto, because of the knockdown. But Clottey appeared to have won the round before knockdown. If Clottey had stayed upright, he likely would have won the round 10-9. If McKaie had scored the first 10-9 Clottey, his card would have changed to 114-114 and the fight would have been a draw.

Regardless of the outcome, though, it was a brilliant performance by each man. When ranking the division, if you include Manny Pacquiao, who has fought at welterweight; Floyd Mayweather Jr., who, when he returns from his retire will compete as a welterweight; and Paul Williams, who often fights above 147 but considers himself a welterweight, you have an incredibly stacked class.

In my current welterweight top 10, I don't include Pacquiao, because he's not a full-time welterweight; Mayweather, because he's been retired and Williams, because he's fought his last three fights outside the division.

Without those men, I rank the welterweights with Cotto on top, followed by Shane Mosley, Clottey, Andre Berto, Zab Judah, Luis Collazo, Carlos Quintana, Delvin Rodriguez, Vyacheslav Senchenk and Isaac Hlatshwayo.

Some folks continue to rank the suspended Antonio Margarito, which I do not. If you include Pacquiao, Mayweather, Williams and Margarito, the class becomes exceptional.

Speaking of exceptional, Cotto was exactly that in overcoming a massive cut above his left eye, caused by a clash of heads in the third round. If Clottey would have put more pressure on, he likely would have been able to stop Cotto.

Clottey moaned about the loss, but he floated in the 12th round and gave it away, which is an unforgivable offense in such a close fight.

Both men, though, came out of the fight with their reputations enhanced. However, I'm certain that after watching Cotto so closely, Pacquiao won't be too worried if they meet in November in Las Vegas.

Before I get on to the mailbag, I'd like to invite you to follow me on Twitter. Feel free to send me questions for the mailbag there, too, though I'll need your first and last name and hometown.

With that, let's get to your questions and comments in this week's edition of the boxing mailbag.

Reacting to Cotto-Clottey

Please tell me I am not an idiot. Now I agree that the fight between Cotto and Clottey was extremely close. But, and I do believe this is not a contradictory statement, Clottey clearly won the fight. He was the aggressor, he was the busier fighter, he landed more punches, he connected at a higher percentage and, as Clottey stated himself, "He was running and I was chasing." That is the part that probably irritates me the most. Cotto, supposedly the harder/stronger puncher was running quite a bit. I am just not sure how he could have won the fight. Also, don't get me started on the judge who had the fight 116 - 111. Shameful!
Matthew Pettengill
Burlington, Vt.

It was a close fight that could have gone either way. Punch stats are a good barometer, but you have to remember when scoring a fight that each round is a separate entity, so using the punch stats as a whole is not realistic. For example, let's say that in a three-round fight, Fighter A outlands Fighter B 20-18 in punches in the first and 21-20 in punches in Round 2. But in Round 2, Fighter B outlands Fighter A 50-20 and connects at a higher percent. That would mean that for the fight, Fighter B outlanded Fighter A, 88-61. But Fighter A could still win the fight, because he won Rounds 1 and 2 and B won 3. I thought Cotto pulled it out, but I won't argue strenuously with anyone who thought Clottey deserved the nod. I agree that the 116-111 score turned in by Trella was outrageously bad. Finally, I'm going to disagree with your notion that Cotto was "running." That's the last thing I would have called it. He used lateral movement, but he wasn't looking to avoid engagement.

I know that the Cotto-Clottey fight was really close, but I don't understand why Clottey is claiming he was robbed. Yes, Cotto was on his bike the last few rounds, but he also did land a couple of clean shots. At any rate, the fight was entertaining. Was is it me or was Clottey deliberately looking for the ref to deduct a point from Cotto in the final round? What did you think about that? Lastly, I'm a Pinoy and a huge Pacquiao fan, but it's quite disappointing that he dictates boxers to meet him in a catch weight. He should settle in a weight class and fight fighters there. Creating a "Mannyweight" just makes people think that the Pacman and his team are tailoring fights to gain advantages. I say, fight Juan Manuel Marquez at 140 (since Pac cannot make 135 anymore) or Money May, Cotto and Shane at 147. No more catch weights, please!
Imus, Cavite, Philippines

I agree that Clottey's actions in the 12th were suspicious. And I'm not saying he faked his leg injury, but it didn't seem to bother him when he jumped up onto the ropes and when he stomped around the ring complaining, did it? As far as Manny, I have no problem with the catch weight. He's fighting guys in a bigger class that he's not fit for. By having them come down a couple of pounds, it evens the playing field and it gives the bigger guys a shot at the huge payday a bout with Manny brings. I have no problem with it, and I don't think anyone who is fair would suggest Manny is trying to finagle an unfair advantage. He should be credited for looking for the biggest and baddest men he can find.

Wow, what a fight Clottey vs. Cotto was! Never did it cross Cotto's mind to quit because of a severe gash from a butt. Clottey fought through a sore knee from being dropped after jumping on Cotto. The match also featured an outstanding job of officiating. Why is HBO's Jim Lampley always crying at the end?
Jesse Reyes
Camarillo, Calif.

I thought it was another in a series of outstanding fights in 2009. Credit the promoters and television executives for continuing to make the fights the fans want to see. We have to keep the pressure on them to make sure they continue this kind of matchmaking. Both men, as I said, were excellent and proved they are capable of beating anyone. I also agree that Arthur Mercante Jr. did a wonderful job as the referee. But I'm not sure what you're referring to about Lampley. I thought he gave one of his typically excellent calls.

Why no 'Iron Boy?'

It doesn't seem fair that the Ivan Calderon-Rodel Mayol fight was not broadcast by HBO on Saturday. If he's exciting, then who cares what size he is? HBO executives have to be kidding themselves if they think their subscribers haven't already rented "Dark Knight." HBO is all about originals: "Sopranos," "OZ," documentaries, etc. And, not least of all, sports!
Jose L. Munoz
Brooklyn, N.Y.

The problem, Jose, is that while you and I would love the bout to be on, too many fans don't tune in for these lighter weight shows. HBO is running a business and if they see fans favor a specific division or fighter, that's who they tend to broadcast. If, on the few times, they got boffo ratings for showing the lighter weight fighters, they would be on regularly, believe me.

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