Mancuso: Cotto returns to New York with more than one question

New York:  Miguel Cotto is home again but not at Madison Square Garden. Saturday night he defends his lineal portion of the middleweight championship at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the arena which has stolen some thunder from big time fights at the Garden.

Not that it matters to Cotto that he is fighting in another borough, and a few subway stops away from the Garden. His New York contingent of fans will still be in his corner when he steps in the ring defending against former champion Daniel Geale at a contested catch weight of 157 pounds.

The catch weight issue has become a subject of debate, not with Cotto but with Gary Shaw the promoter of Geale, who will be a tough opponent for Cotto,  Regardless of a catch weight debate, which has been a part of championship fights over the years, the two fighters will hopefully make weight Friday.

But as everyone knows, a Friday weigh-in does not necessarily mean that Cotto and Geale will come in the ring Saturday night on HBO at 157, or for that matter at 160, or the middleweight requirement. It could be 165, or even 170 because rules of the sport are stubborn when it comes to changing the weigh-in schedule to the day of a fight.

That is another question. The real answer will come after the fight. Cotto won 9 of his 10 fights at the Garden over the years which always sold out, and grossed more than any single event in the arena, good enough to draw over 145,000 paid customers.

His last fight, and what looks like could be his final appearance at the Garden last June, he stopped Sergio Martinez and became the first fighter from Puerto Rico to win titles in four different weight classes. This is his first fight since leaving longtime promoters at Top Rank and signing a multi-million promotional deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports. There is a difference this time because Cotto is not doing that usual New York City promotional tour and going about business to prepare for this fight which has major implications.

Cotto is looking to make a statement as a dominant middleweight, and that is the answer the boxing world will seek because the division could have one or two good possible fights in the making, assuming Cotto gets the win.

There is that lingering and possible fight with Canelo Alvarez, again fought at a catch-weight. But those around the Cotto camp, and those in the know are aware the next opponent could be the dangerous knockout artist known as “GGG”, Gennady Golovkin.

To that Cotto says, “I will not look past Saturday.”  He has always been cautious over this decade or more of a title run, more so when approached about the next opponent. And that approach came because his longtime promoter at Top Rank, Bob Arum, was the key negotiator for the next Cotto mega fight.

The other question is, and assuming Cotto gets by Geale, how much longer will the eventual Boxing Hall of Famer continue to take punches? Cotto has notched a lucrative and historic career, and it is known if he stepped away from the ring tomorrow there is financial security for he and his family.

The new promotional deal with Roc Nation Sports assures that Cotto will continue to have that financial security. So with or without a bout with Alvarez, or Golovkin, either one would be lucrative, Cotto is financially secured for the remainder of his life.

But for Cotto it is more than just the money. He has that following and despite what may be known, he has overtaken the popularity of Felix Trinidad and is the number one fighter in Puerto Rico. Ask the boxing fan with Puerto Rican heritage in New York:

“Cotto-Cotto-Cotto”, is the chant they say when the question of most popular fighter now from Puerto Rico, Arum, and Top Rank was responsible for that marketing aspect for Cotto as they made sure there was that annual presence at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City, and it coincided with a fight at the Garden on the eve of the parade.
At a Tuesday afternoon final press conference before the fight at the popular B.B.King Blues Club and Grill in New York’s Times Square, Cotto was as always the usual and calm fighter counting the days, The renowned trainer, Freddie Roach is back in his corner and was by his side.

“Freddie brings the confidence back to Miguel,” commented Cotto as Roach smiled.  And that duo has worked well together with reports from training camp saying that the Cotto aggression and power were at an all time high.

Perhaps, they say, Cotto may have a more powerful combination of punches for Geale than he had with his stoppage over Martinez. Cotto, who went to battle twice a year, said he took a year off to give his body some extra rest after 14-years in the sport.

The timing is right for Miguel Cotto, He is a fight or two, maybe three from calling it quits. But this is not the Garden, a different venue and the New York boxing fans will cheer him on. That question never has to be answered because a Miguel Cotto fight in New York always seems to see the fighter at his best, with the lone exception of that unanimous decision loss to Austin Trout in December of 2012, and dethroned of the super welterweight title.

But something says the answer will be the same Saturday evening. A different venue it will be, but a loud crowd and another win for the Cotto legacy in New York City.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso  Twitter@ Ring786

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich has covered countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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