Wilfredo Gomez, Felix Trinidad, Carlos Ortiz and Wilfredo Benitez are just some of the names which pop in to my head when thinking back over the decades in which Puerto Rico has hailed a new king in the sport we love, each man having left a legacy of greatness for the archives to read in years to come.
As a young man growing up, seeing his father and other family members relive their past experiences in the ring it was a natural progression for the man known in his homeland as Junito to try and give his own offspring tales of heroism from his time spent in between the squared circle ropes.
Today, Miguel Cotto’s name stands tall amongst the aforementioned greats, perhaps even surpassing some as he became the first Puerto Rico in the country’s history to capture the accolade of being the first and only fighter to capture titles in four weight divisions making his move to Middleweight an effortless one, dethroning former world champion Sergio Martinez in ten rounds at his adopted sporting home of Madison Square Garden.
Watching him evolve into the fighter he is today, we look upon his transition as a fighter who embodies the warrior mentality, going head to head with any fighter who intends to block his path, someone who writers like to label a “throwback” kind of combatant, meaning that he is always willing to face the best in any given weight class, A lot to be said when you refer to those who hide behind their powerful advisor/manager in a new age of world champions.
Turning 37, I decided it was an ideal time to list my personal top five performances by Miguel, so without further ado, here for your perusal are mine:
5) Ricardo Torres – 24th September 2005 – Miguel came into the contest unbeaten throughout his first 24 professional contests but was given the scare of his life against the hard-hitting Colombian. Like a pendulum, the fight swung one way and then the other as both men traded leather for the duration of the seven rounds the fight lasted.
Miguel scored knockdowns in the first, fourth, sixth and ultimately in the seventh before having to come through his first knockdown of his career in the second. Torres in between those times shook Miguel on multiple occasions before he was able to breathe a sigh of relief in gaining victory.
This one had all the drama of an American sitcom finale. If you haven’t already had the privilege, this is certainly one to pick up.
4) Carlos Quintana – 2nd December 2006 – Contested between countrymen, pride took Centre stage providing a chance for bragging rights amongst the two men and their respective camps.
Quintana came into the contest unbeaten with extra confidence from the taking the scalp of a fighter who many had high hopes for in Joel Julio, Miguel on the other hand, six months prior had broken the jaw of Paulie Malignaggi on his way to a twelve round unanimous decision.
The scene was set for an interesting affair but one which in all honesty turned into a one-sided beatdown as Miguel broke down the resistance of Quintana to score a fifth-round stoppage after Carlos had made two visits to the canvas beforehand. Quintana’s corner tried to push him to come out for another round, but the fighter refused.
3) Antonio Margarito – 26th July 2008 / 3rd December 2011 – There aren’t many fighters as unmovable as Antonio Margarito was in his prime, one who at the time of this fight was finding decent opposition hard to come by, such was the threat that resided, Miguel presented a fighter who if beaten could catapult him into the higher echelons of the sport.
Many people will find this pick farcical because Miguel lost the contest but I made this pick because of the way in which he boxed before he was stopped, looking back from not just a win/loss kind of situation but focusing more on the performance.
Round after round Miguel displayed some great boxing, which at the earlier stages of the contest looked to have had Antonio out of ideas as to deal with the box and move style of the Caguas native.
On reflection we know that Cotto was stopped in that fateful tenth round but the performance beforehand, for me personally was a highlight, even though it may have been a difficult watch for his supporters who got images of a fighter who went out on his shield, bloodied from battle.
One fight later, Antonio was banned from the sport for attempting to use loaded gloves in his fight with Shane Mosely, to this day Miguel is of the opinion that he too was the victim of those same tactics.
Miguel had to wait another two years for his revenge, doing so by enacting a nine round beatdown before the fight was stopped as Miguel stood centre ring, staring at his downed victim.
2) Shane Mosely – 10th November 2007 – Shane wasn’t a shot fighter at the time these two men faced off still having the credence of an elite fighter within the sport, beating Fernando Vargas twice and a win over Luis Collazo for good measure he came into the Cotto fight very much in good shape which had people suggesting that he could stop Cotto.
In a close fight which to this day still has a lot arguing the fact for either, Cotto added a very big name to his resume. In a back and forth contest which had fight fans glued to their TV screens or on the edge of their seats at the MSG in New York, Cotto came out on top, scoring a close decision in the process.
Revisiting the contest I had Miguel up by a couple but would be unable to cement my score as the fight had a lot of close rounds, ones that could have gone either way.
1) Sergio Martinez – 7th July 2014 – On the run-up to this fight, even the most sceptical gave Miguel little chance at defeating a man who at the time was the Middleweight’s king.
Going up in division, Miguel now with the added bonus of having Freddie Roach in his corner not only proved the doubters wrong in beating Sergio but did it in explosive fashion, leaving Martinez on the canvas on four occasions, THREE in the first round.
This in my personal opinion was his careers best performance, sure there could be argument for a lot of Miguel’s fights throughout his illustrious career, some fights that I may not have even mentioned, but the stars were aligned on the night of the 7th July 2014, where at his adopted home of Madison Square Garden, he produced a devastating performance which left a good fighter a wreck of a man and the name of Miguel Cotto embolden in to the history books as the first Puerto Rican to capture titles in four weight classes. .
These are just my personal five performances from Junito, others may look at his losses to Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez or perhaps his win over Zab Judah as three notable inclusions with good argument, let me know yours by tweeting me @TOPCLASSBOXING hashtag #FiveOfTheBestCotto
Lastly, I would like to wish Miguel a belated Happy Birthday as we move towards a sad day for boxing, waving farewell to one of this eras best in his final fight in December with lasting memories of a great fighter.
As always, Thank you for reading and your continued support