Depending on how you viewed the recent press conference, you may have Ricardo Mayorga (29-7-1-1, 23KO’s) ahead in the pre-fight build up against WBA Light Middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (35-2, 28KO’s) perhaps accepting that “El Matador” is in the Puerto Rican’s head already. Though inversely you could view Cotto refusing to do the nose to nose, eye to eye stare down as Cotto declining to play by Mayorga’s rules, though one things for sure, both men will feel they have the mental upper hand prior to the weigh in later today. From the outside looking in Miguel Cotto is a big favourite, he’s 9 years younger, a lot fresher, despite a series of difficult fights including losses to Antonio Margarito and Manny Pacquiao he’s still by far the man with the most left in the tank. Cotto, with new trainer Manny Steward will almost certainly be a different man in the ring than he has been in the past, a more rounded fighter perhaps. Steward may also act as the foil for Mayorga, in fact the usually mild mannered Steward has been on the one showing frustration from the Cotto team.
Whatever you think of the pre-fight shenanigans it what happens in the ring that matters. You almost expect the pre-fight hoo-ha from Mayorga no matter who he fights, the guys a bit of a hype machine creating hype for an event from nothing. At 37 though Mayorga is a fighter well on the slide , he’s gone 4-4 in his last 8 and has been stopped by Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad in those 8 fights, his career dates back over 17 years and he’s never been the type to think defence first. Compare this with the all round skill of Cotto and an improved version of Cotto who has had a proper trainer working with him and corrective surgery on a long term arm problem and you’re looking at a somewhat easy win for the popular Puerto Rican warrior.
Although you can expect the macho Mayorga, who has been very confident about stopping Cotto to go out there and try and beat-up Cotto. In fact he has gone so far as to tell Cotto to contact Ricky Martin about becoming a back up dancer after losing. You can’t help but think Mayorga is trying to win the bout before entering the ring, getting into Cotto’s head and mentally breaking him because he knows in a level fight he stands no chance. Yes Mayorga is known for his smack talk, his pre-fight trash talking is somewhat legendary in the sport, though this seems over the top. Thankfully Mayorga has yet to drop a comment about Cotto’s father or things really could erupt at any moment. As long as Cotto is as mentally with it as we are assuming it’s difficult to imagine him losing. A Mayorga that that swings wildly will be broken down over the middle rounds whilst a Cotto that looks like the old man he is will be broken down even quicker. Cotto’s accurate, hard body punches, which made a welcome return against Yuri Foreman in his last fight, would be the hurtful type of shots that Mayorga will feel for a while.
With Manny Steward behind Cotto though and Mayorga a slightly dangerous and powerful opponent we may well see a slightly re-invented Cotto. Cotto has always been an aggressive fighter, very fan friendly and braze, though with Steward in his corner the plan may be to box first rather than brawl, he may be fighting cleverly rather than just fighting. A Cotto with his jab going, opening the doors for the rest of his arsenal could well turn out to be the dominant fighter in the Light Middleweight division. Though if Mayorga has managed to break him mentally and really wind him up this could end up being a brawl. A brawl would favour Mayorga who is naturally bigger and stronger and I think Cotto and Steward know it, they know they may win a shoot out though will certainly win a boxing contest, so Cotto will start by boxing. After a few rounds Cotto, who has been out of the ring for 9 months, will start to show more interest on his punches by the mid way point he’ll have started to dishearten the challenger to his WBA Light Middleweight title and continue and slowly break him down from there.
Yes Mayorga may have a chance, a slim one, to land a blow that drops Cotto, though this is unlikely. The fighters Cotto has really struggled with haven’t been the crude wild sluggers with a dodgy chin but the relentless opponents that won’t back away, the type like Margarito and Pacquiao who grind him down in a mass of hard punches not hard single blows. I personally can’t see Mayorga doing much to discomfort Cotto through the fight.
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