BRONX, NY – Although the history of boxing goes back in time to the first year, 1923, of the original Yankee Stadium, the sport of pugilism will be making its debut in the current Yankee Stadium on June 5. The show called “Stadium Slugfest” will be headlined by a 12 round encounter for the WBA Super Welterweight Championship. Yuri Foreman (28-0, 8 KO’s) will be defending his title against Miguel Cotto (34-2, 27 KO’s), a three-time world champion.
The fights that night will be the first bouts fought in a Yankee Stadium ring since September 28, 1976 when Muhammed Ali won a 15 round decision over Ken Norton. Forty-five boxing shows were held at the venue during its first 36 years of existence, but the June 5th show will only be the second in more than a half-century (June 26, 1959). The names of boxing legends that fought at the Bronx venue include Joe Louis, 11 times, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson and Jack Dempsey.
Miguel Cotto, the challenger on June5, held a Spanish language press conference on Wednesday, May 19, to help promote the event. Cotto expressed his pride when asked to describe his feelings of boxing in this historic site, “It’s a legendary place. It’s very emotional for me. If we give a good performance our names will be connected to the greats of the past.”
Without denigrating his upcoming opponent, Cotto expressed confidence that his preparation will be sufficient to ensure him a victory in the bout, “I’m prepared for this fight. I have great plans. I’ve worked for the past 7-8 weeks. We will try to implement what we have learned [of Yuri Foreman].” When asked if fighting at 154 pounds will be more difficult than his previous championships, 140 and 147 pound weights, Cotto responded, “I feel very well. I don’t think it’ll be a big difference.”
Cotto has headlined shows at Madison Square Garden in mid-June during four of the past five years as part of the festive events held during the week preceding the National Puerto Rican Parade on Fifth Avenue. Cotto, a native of Caguas asked if he formulated this tradition. He said the idea was that of his promoters, Top Rank.
Cotto was asked if his new trainer, Emanuel Steward, will make a difference in the bout. The former champ said of the legendary and experienced trainer of many champions, “Who wouldn’t be happy to have him in his corner?” Steward explained to reporters his methods of training his new fighter, “We use a lot of music and dancing to improve his balance. It’s been fun. He’s like a new boxer.”
The two boxers are both 29 years old, but Cotto has much more experience, especially competing against highly rated boxers. Although the two never faced one another, Foreman fought on the undercard of three shows headlined by Cotto.
As the New York Yankees are part of the promotion, Jason Zillo, the director of media relations for the team was asked to comment on the fight being held at the new home of the Yankees. He stated, “This is a facility that should not be dormant when the Yankees are on the road or during the winter and early spring months. This stadium can transcend the sport of baseball. There are endless opportunities here and I know our ownership will pursue them.”