Who'd thunk it? Before the fight those with cauliflower tongues in the broken beak business would have had you believe that Miguel Cotto was partial to single orthodoxy, a plain vanilla style that would see him coming forward throwing punches relentlessly to the body. And that his opponent, Sugar Shane Mosley, would be the one counter punching and throwing a jab to offset Cotto's bull-like rushes.
But the consensus was dead wrong as Cotto gave lie to the slander he couldn't jab by outjabbing the jabber, 98 to 71, literally beating the bejabbers out of Mosley. From the opening bell, when Cotto landed his first hard jab as partial payment of what was to come, Cotto used his newfound jab and movement to confound his more experienced opponent, oftimes leaving Mosley in the switches--boxing when Cotto punched and punching when Cotto boxed.
Mosley tried mightily to fulfill his pre-fight prediction of a knockout by throwing right-hand bombs and trying to turn the tables on the body puncher by going to Cotto's body. But he soon found his attacks were akin to trying take cheese from a set mouse trap as every time he went on the offensive Cotto used his jab and countered to offset anything and everything Mosley did, building up an early lead much to the delight of the partisan 17,000-plus crowded into the Garden who maltreated their lungs cheering their hero on.
However, it was a lead Cotto could neither bank nor bank on as Mosley, washing away the improbability of the calendar, went on the offensive down the stretch hurting Cotto in the ninth with several overhand rights and driving Cotto into the ropes. And again in the 10th hurting Cotto with two bodacious body punches. But each time Cotto not only weathered Mosley's assault, but even on retreat, held his ground and countered with his own.
Mosley's finishing kick made it close--two judges scoring the fight 115-113 in favor of Cotto--but there was no doubt that the better boxer had won, one who had proven that the curriculum of boxing is a wide one indeed and that adding a jab and footwork to his pugilistic arsenal had made him that better boxer.
What now for this fast-rising star on the boxingscape? At 31-0 with 25 knockouts Cotto not only enters that rarified strata known as boxing's best pound-for-pounders, he also has become a major force in the welterweight division, already crowded to overflowing with more names of potential greats than at any other time in the history of the division--names like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Antonio Margarito, Paul Williams, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya. But if his performance in the Mosley fight is any indication, then whomsoever takes on the complete boxing package that is Miguel Cotto may find themselves facing one helluva fighter.
Bert Randolph Sugar is the co-author of "My View from the Corner" with legendary trainer Angelo Dundee, now in bookstores.
HBO PPV - Nov. 10, 2007