There's Antonio Margarito at the press conference after Miguel Cotto stopped Ricardo Mayorga this weekend. The body language isn't terrific. Friend of the site JasonTO came up with this rage comic to illustrate the situation:
Since Margarito is probably next for Cotto, that seems like a good enough intro into this edition of Weekend Afterthoughts.
- Next for Sergio Martinez. The best reporting out there on what might happen next for the middleweight champ other than moi (strut strut, I'm so pretty) is from ESPN's Dan Rafael, here. The names are the same as those I'd collected -- Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Alfredo Angulo, Dmitry Pirog and Peter Manfredo -- but he's got a bit more detail on how it would go down or wouldn't. If I had my choice, it would go as follows: Mayweather at 154 (he's bigger than Pac so a bit more viable, to me); Pacquiao at 154 (see what I said about Mayweather); Pirog (the most viable opponent at 160, and an interesting match-up of herky-jerky guys with power); Kirkland (he can take a shot and hits as hard or harder than anyone else on this list, and is relentless enough to use it); Angulo (like Kirkland with a better chin but not as powerful, slower and less skilled); Cotto (which I'm only moderately interested in because it would be an attraction, since I think Cotto would get murdered); and Manfredo (which also would sell some tickets in the Northeast, I suppose, but would be something worse than a murder).
- Post-fight interviews. Because I had to write it fast, I didn't respond in this blog entry to the claims of various post-fight interview subjects in my piece, the way I did at the weigh-in. But others did. It's true: HBO's Kery Davis is a bit off-base for wanting Pirog to be more exposed to an American audience before fighting Martinez, when Pirog has been on HBO once and Serhiy Dzinziruk had been on it never; and promoter Lou DiBella is being a touch un-self-reflective by criticizing Bob Arum for lining up some of his top guys with bums.
- Miguel Cotto's performance. From what I'd read, Cotto's stoppage victory over Mayorga was the final nail in his coffin as an elite fighter. But I've caught up to the fight and don't see it that way. Maybe I'm too biased in favor of Cotto -- and make no mistake, he's a huge favorite of mine -- but I didn't see a shot or particularly faded fighter. Yes, he probably should have stopped Mayorga, a 10-1 underdog, sooner, but overall he looked a lot like the Cotto I know. What I do think is that he's not as powerful at junior middleweight as he was at welter and junior welter, and although he's improved his defense and a few other things, on the balance he's overall a worse fighter now than he was during his days at 140 and 147 because of it. He does still make for good action bouts, though, with this Mayorga bout being another one -- not in his upper echelon, but still good.
- Next for Cotto. It's that Margarito fellow, almost certainly. Given recent form prior to this weekend, I would have picked Cotto, but I think Margarito's more comfortable at the higher weight than Cotto. Our Corey Erdman also suggested to me that Margs would have the mental edge. I still lean Cotto, but not as decisively as I once did. And, should Cotto make it past Margs in the rematch, Arum wants to line him up for a totally useless rematch with Paquiao. By the way, this was the smallest audience for a Cotto fight in forever. I'm not entirely sure why Arum put the fight in Las Vegas. I know he's been wanting to do some kind of charitable/save Vegas thing, but this fight sells better in the New York region, no? Maybe Mr. Grassroots got himself some nice casino money?
- Ricardo Mayorga's retirement. Double meaning! No, Mayorga isn't retiring from the sport after this loss, apparently, despite some sentiment he might. And even though he lost most every round, I thought he fought reasonably well for 11 rounds, actually -- his defense was better than usual, for sure, and he appeared to wobble Cotto in the 7th. That ending, though, was suspect. One, the replay showed nothing, absolutely nothing, that would have indicated he hurt his thumb in the sequence prior to him dropping down and looking at his hand following a short counter left hook from Cotto. Two, he only had a couple more minutes to go with that injured thumb, but he quit anyway. If he was concerned about taking a beating, why not stay down after the knockdown? I don't understand what happened at all there. Still, when you take into account his big mouth, this was a good enough performance to make him a viable opponent for another meaningful fight, I imagine.
- Pawel Wolak vs. Yuri Foreman. This one was a surprise, but in retrospect, if I'd thought about it a little harder, I probably should have seen it coming. As Showtime's Al Bernstein noted, with Foreman coming off knee surgery and a long layoff, a pressure fighter like Wolak was a very tough match-up. I didn't see Foreman taking such a hellacious beating to warrant the corner pulling the plug, as he was still getting some work done, even though he was clearly losing. Still, Wolak was putting it to him, and it's hard not to love a fighter who goes full bore like the tenacious Pole. This was by far his best win, over a top-10 caliber junior middleweight, and maybe this points to him being both good AND fun. Or else Foreman was overrated, but I don't think so. It was very bizarre to see Wolak beat Foreman easier than Cotto, which also could be filed under "Cotto's no good anymore." There are a lot of moving, interconnected pulleys and levers on making sense of this one, but at the end of it is Wolak kickin' some ass for a night. More Wolak soon, please.
- Miguel Vazquez vs. Lenny Zappavigna. Of the fights this weekend I'm still catching up to, this lightweight bout is the last on my list. I'll try to update this section once I watch it. In the meantime, feel free to discuss it in lieu of me giving you my opinion. I believe in you.
- Odds and ends. Heavyweight Michael Grant got a win Friday over Tye Fields that should line him up as another "opponent" fight, since he's on an uptick of viability as a respectable foe combined with this and his competitive showing against Tomasz Adamek. Good for him. And as much as I wasn't hating on the fight, I'd love to see the pay-per-view numbers for Grant-Fields -- they have to be limbo champion-low... Did Roy Jones not mention God on this week's HBO broadcast? I didn't hear anybody complaining... Mayorga's mom's hair was awesome -- it was like she was imitating the fuscia look from her son for the Felix Trinidad fight. Fuscia was the color of the weekend, too, since female heavyweight Sonya Lamanokis wore it this weekend... There are a lot of great observations in the latest boxing piece by Hamilton Nolan here, even if I disagree with 65% of them... The Foxwoods venue is indeed a good one. The theater doesn't appear to have a bad seat. But the media operation had some deficits; there were no microphones at the news conference, ringside seating was extremely limited and attendance figures weren't given out anywhere that I could tell (although, on the final issue, I failed to ask)... Ran into super middleweight prospect Edwin Rodriguez at the fight this past weekend. He said he could be back as soon as May... Someone from the crowd shouted at referee Steve Smoger toward the start of the Andy Lee-Craig McEwan fight, "Don't stop the fight prematurely, ref!" It's hard to think of something stranger to yell at Smoger, of all people... Here are the rest of the weekend's results, via Rafael.
- Knockout and highlight videos. If you haven't seen any of this stuff, now you will. Unless YouTube deletes it, which in some cases it might.
Somebody's gotta explain the negative attitudes toward Cotto to me. Is he at his peak? No. Is he pretty close? I sure think so. He lost to loaded gloves and the best fighter in the sport. That's it. And he was more competitive with Pac than anyone since Marquez. I hope the writers who dismiss Cotto aren't the same ones who complain about promoters and networks dismissing fighters because of a loss. He's not as strong as he was at 147 but he's become a better boxer, and I continue to insist that his jab is a highly underrated weapon. He knocked down Clottey with it and he snapped Mayorga's head back all night with it. The couple times in the fight he got in trouble I noticed him rely heavily on the jab in the following round to regain control of the fight. I personally think he outboxes Margarito pretty easily if they do fight, even at 154. Margarito's arm punches don't quite have the same impact anymore.
@Scott_Kraus I dunno. I think if you're looking for signs he's on his way down, then there's evidence to be found. There are also alternative explanations, though.
I've been waiting for your take on the Cotto fight, while understanding that your coverage for the HBO card would obviously be more thorough. :) Good job on that, BTW.
I'm also biased heavily in favor of Cotto. I thought he looked good. He handled Mayorga's power well enough to stay on his feet even when wobbled. Correct me if I'm wrong, by Mayorga does have dangerous power that could wobble anyone, right? I like Cotto at 154 for the same reason I like Pac at 147: It's a weight where he's not sunken in at the weigh-in. But if his power isn't moving up as well, that's a problem. Cotto is also short for the division. He's not exactly tall at 147.
I've resigned myself to the Margarito fight for Cotto. I didn't buy the fight when it was Pac, and I'll stand by that when it's Cotto in the ring. It will be harder to resist. I honestly feel that if you compare Cotto's performance against Pac to Margarito's that Cotto will have no trouble beating Marg in a FAIR fight at any reasonable weight (147-154). In fact, watching those 2 fights alone - and more-so when when taken together - is further evidence for the case that Cotto was in against loaded gloves when he fought Margarito. He's that much better than Marg and he's survived against worse.
I'd like to think Cotto has put the Marg fight in perspective inside his own head, thereby nullifying the psychological disadvantage. It's difficult to hold it against anyone if they lose to Pac, and he must know that, too. Cotto fought better against Pac than anyone since I don't know when. I don't need to see a re-match with Pac, but I wouldn't automatically say Cotto would lose that fight, either. Cotto has a real trainer now, Pac is more distracted now. Those two things, plus the first 4 rounds of their first fight, make me think it could end differently. I still don't need to see it.
Martinez, OTOH is a different story. He's too much bigger, IMHO, for Cotto to have a chance at dealing with the other assets Martinez brings to the ring. With size being an issue, I'll say ditto for Pac. If Marg hurt Pac, how on earth does he survive Martinez who is bigger, faster, more skilled, etc, etc, etc.
One last thing: I disagree w/ you about Foreman's corner. I was relieved when the fight ended. He was getting the crap beat out of him. and for what? He needed a KO to win. Foreman's talent isn't his punching power... Why put him through more punishment? I thought it was a good call.
@beccapooka I'm usually all about stoppages on the early side. You make a good case. He wasn't going to knock out Wolak.
I honestly don't think Cotto was having much trouble making 147. He just wanted to win a belt in a new division, I think.
Thanks for the kudos on the HBO coverage.
Good thoughts here, all.
@tstarks I think Cotto *can* make 147, no problem. But looking at the weigh-in photos, he does have to weight-drain to a degreeto do it. Almost every boxer has sunken abs and protruding hips in weigh-in photos, so I wouldn't necessarily say it's a disadvantage in most fights. But to be both ripped *and* not sunken at 154 says to me that the weight is more natural. The problem then becomes that he's fighting guys who are naturally bigger and drain themselves down to 154 for the weigh-in.
It's a question of who is stronger: The naturally bigger fighter who doesn't eat/drink on the day of the weigh-in OR the fighter who is naturally at the weight limit and doesn't need to starve/dehydrate the day before the fight? With the exception of extreme situations, I'm not sure how to answer that question.
You may recall that I was extremely annoyed w/ the HBO broadcast team talking about Pavlik's advantage in the ring over Martinez because he rehydrated 18 pounds after the weigh-in. My immediate thought was that he was more likely to be weak from making weight. Prior to that fight, I picked Pavlik to win, and I said I didn't think there was any way he'd lose. The second the HBO guys said he'd added 18 pounds since weigh-in, I literally thought, "Shit, I guess there is a way for him to lose this fight."
Still harping for 154-division fighters eh, must be terribly poor sales in the higher divisions eh? Can you DEFINE based on professional reference of division weights in what class is Sergio and his top-two listers of so-called next available fighters? But I can't blame somebody who is nobody crying out for top-notch fighters to fight him, and CROWNING himself in the ring just to get such attention, eh Sergio? Pity, pity, pity......
@dpg You should hear the Kid Cudi version. Go watch his video or "Make Her Say." Much funnier take on the song.