COTTO ESCAPES CLOTTEY
By Michael Amakor at Ringside / June 16, 2009 / Read Cotto vs Clottey Preview
On June 13, 2009 WBO Welterweight (147) Champion Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27ko’s) narrowly eeked out a razor thin split decision over former champion Joshua Clottey (35-3, 20ko’s) to retain his title in a classical war of attrition in front of a boisterous flag draped Puerto Rican crowd at Madison Square Gardens in New York City on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Packing a combined record of 68 wins and 47 knockouts there was bound to be fireworks when these two evenly matched forces collided, but both fighters left nothing to chance with an extremely relaxed and ripped Clottey commentating pre-fight “This was my best camp where I went away and was able to concentrate on my training”, I am ready for anything he brings” Cotto on the other hand had a violent break-up with his feuding trainer about tactics just 9 weeks before this fight, but nevertheless managed through all that to get in a good workout by all accounts altogether contributing to a wild toe to toe cock fight as the explosive hooking Clottey traded with the mongoose body punching Cotto over 12 rounds keeping the fans roaring with delight and on the edge of their seats not blinking lest the missed a career ending barrage that each fighter tried to unleash to end the fight to no avail.
Clottey seemed to be on the verge of wining the first round when a left jab dropped him on the seat of his pants in the final minutes, he immediately beat the count complaining it was a slip and countered back with an assault to try to recover from that outrage in the second. In round three there was a hard clash of heads ruled accidental by the referee that contorted up Cotto, and opened up a bloody cut over his left eye that handicapped him over the rest of the fight as Clottey capitalized on his advantage by launching blistering rights hands targeted at Cotto’s eye who fell back on his defensive boxing skills as he adjusted his fight plan allowing Clottey to seize ring generalships during the middle rounds despite the fight being fought at the center of the ring.
In round five Cotto momentarily cornered Clottey against the ropes after eating some rights, and an off balance Clottey jumped in for a clinch “ I felt I was holding a man” Clottey would later say post fight about rough house tactics as Cotto shook him off and tackled him flat onto the canvas. For a moment it seemed as if Clottey would not make it, and a palpable fear gripped the arena, but Clottey swallowed the pain after a brief time out and got back into the fight landing some withering jabs, even participating in a wild inside fight with Cotto to close out the round.
In round 6 Cotto trapped Clottey against the ropes and won the inside fight by battering and jabbing Clottey against the ropes congealing a very defensive minded ear muffed Clottey who absorbed these shots occasionally exploding out with left hooks, uppercuts and wild rights to break out of the near minute long trap.
Clottey came back strong in rounds 7, 8 and 9 stalking Cotto, seemingly closing the gap between them as he chased a backtracking, circling and fast moving Cotto around the ring stretching and firing precision lead rights at the eye of the weakening Cotto, who persistently pawed at his streaming eyes with his gloves, but managed to explode against Clottey who was against the rope near the end of the eight and for a minute in the ninth with both guys swinging at each other to close out that round.
In rounds 10 and 11 Clottey seemed to have slowed down from chasing the somewhat recovered Cotto around the ring, Clottey’s unrushes were slower and his strafing shots were less accurate and he received some withering left hooks snapping his head back near the end of both rounds.
“This is the last round” “you need to win the last round” both corners could be heard rallying their wearied but focused fighters for the round were Clottey tried but was unable to corner down Cotto for more straffing bombs while Cotto picked Clottey persistently with jabs as Clottey rushed in, and during a brief scuffle Cotto landed a punch behind Clottey head, a no no in boxing, but it was ruled accidental in this case, Clottey flurried but was unable to land flush to end the round.
The judges scored the bout 116-111, 114-113, 115-112 for Cotto. The flag draped Puerto Rican crowd went berserk as their hero had won the fight and a disappointed Clottey stated post fight “I did not expect this, I was the active guy I chased him, “I want a REMATCH”.
As is perhaps common with most people I usually rout for the underdog and clearly thought that Clottey won the fight, and comparisons of scores with other ringside writers showed the difficulty in scoring this chess match.
In addition, the final punch stat numbers from Compubox.com handed out to me post fight showed that Clottey connected with 222 of his total punches compared to 179 for Cotto, and Cotto landed 124 power punches bested by the 168 for Clottey. During the fight I had a flash back to Trinidad vs. Oscar De La Hoya were Oscar won the first couple of rounds before back pedaling during the championship rounds refusing or unable to engage and making Trinidad miss most of his shots – the judges favored the more aggressive Trinidad in that fight despite Oscar slipping his punches and negating his offense – however in this fight Cotto returned fire and was fully in the fight to the end and given the cut he suffered were blood flowed directly into his eye it is a amazing that he finished the fight on his feet – and so on reflection I can understand the decision after watching a replay of the fight.
But despite the decision, both guys are winners as the elevated their game and are now both recognized as the top welterweights in the world with clear mandates for a mega fights against fellow welterweight champions Andre Berto, Shane Mosley and the golden goosed red hot and popular Manny Pacquaio for boxing’s unofficial pound for pound championship.
Being at the wrong of the decision is hard for fighters and Clottey would feel he would have walked away with the belt if the referee had taken off points for the many Cotto infractions I noted during the fight.
However, Bob Arum the CEO of Top rank who promotes both fighters stated at the post fight press conference that he was not particularly interested in a rematch as a more economic fight with Pacquaio loomed on the horizon, he was contradicted by Clottey who made an appeal to sport fans to urge Bob Arum for a rematch.
So Fight Fans listen up - “The gloves are in your corner.”