The leverage of Cotto

Ben Thomsett
07/06/2015 10:50am

Being champ gives you leverage. This is common knowledge. In last night’s Miguel Cotto vs Daniel Geale showdown for the WBC middleweight title, we found out what that leverage meant and, more importantly, what it shows us of the future. 

Cotto had forced a catchweight on Daniel Geale of 157lbs - to show us he's still not confident, even as champ, at 160lbs - which the Australian was finding tough going barely a week prior to their bout.

Rumours surfaced that he was at least 15lbs too heavy, prompting someone in the Geale camp to say they weren't concerned and would ‘get Aboriginal’ to lose the excess before the weigh-in. Whatever it meant, and however you feel about that kind of rapid weight loss, Geale tipped in on the scales without issue.

Cotto was never going to worry too much about making the weight, but there were raised eyebrows when he registered 153.6lbs, looking as ripped as he ever has, prompting some to argue for a Geale victory by sheer weight advantage alone. But they were wrong, my friends, and bookmakers welcomed them with open arms and sharpened teeth.

On fight night, Geale checked in at 182lbs and, as Michael Buffer started drawing every ounce of pain from every vowel in English and Spanish, there looked to be an even wider weight margin between the two fighters. This was less of a catchweight and more of a demonstration in what a human body is capable of enduring. And before the end, Geale would endure much more than a few sweaty hours in a sauna.

From the start of the bout, Cotto showed us that working with Freddie Roach had sharpened him up and given him some discipline. He was tight, focused, compact and landed some great left hooks to Geale's body. For his part, Geale seemed to be caught between plans, never seeming settled despite trying to take the fight to the Puerto Rican. "Don't give him momentum," Roach said at the end of the first round. "Don't let him come to you." 

The Australian never looked comfortable against a really patient Cotto - who offered his best counter-punching in recent memory - and as the second round closed it was clear he hadn't troubled his opponent in the slightest. The Barclays Center crowd - never knowingly unpartisan - had been fairly lethargic right up until the moment when Gennady Golovkin's face appeared from ringside on the big screens, which sparked a loud chorus of booing. 

At the end of the third, Geale had still not formulated a working plan, prompting his corner to tell him to, “Frustrate him....look more aggressive." Geale obliged early in the fourth until Cotto ate a jab, ducked in with his head under Geale's chin, sent a short right to his body, then smashed a left hook home to a raised jaw. The Australian dropped through the ropes but made the count.

Thirty seconds later - after managing to duck the worst of the incoming Cotto fury - Geale beat another count but declined to carry on. He staggered back to his corner under his own steam, just. A jubilant Miguel Cotto punched the air.

Post-fight, Cotto heaped praise on Freddie Roach, "I feel like the Miguel from 2004. Roach is the best thing that happened to my career." And then talk turned to that age-old boxing question: Who's next? There is, of course, an obvious answer this time - it's the second biggest money-spinner in boxing - Canelo. The worst matchmaker in the world could put that fight together in five minutes. "Canelo is just another chapter in my career," said Cotto. "Let's do it." 

Cotto-Canelo is likely to be another catchweight; thrashed out and negotiated by unblinking lawyers aiming to get the weight just right for their man - the truth is, both men are not natural middleweights. 

What of GGG? "Why not?" Miguel answered, but he didn't look convinced. In his shoes, and at 160lbs, neither would I...