Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33KOs) captured the WBO super welterweight title to become a six-time world champion after a fiery 12 round unanimous decision over a ridiculously brave Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-5-2, 24KOs) on HBO.
Once the smoke cleared inside StubHub in LA, the Puerto Rican all-time great made it clear that he wants to go out with a bang.
“Come December 31, I will retire. I've done it all. I'm 36 going on 37 and I think I've come to the end of my career,' said Cotto. “I will fight once more in December. I'll let Freddie tell you who I want.”
With that, legendary trainer Freddie Roach immediately called for the ultimate finale. “We want the winner of Canelo-GGG,” bottom-lined Roach.
Roach was, of course, referring to the September 16 superfight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady GGG Golovkin at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Judging by the choice of the relentless Kamegai, it would seem that Golden Boy and Oscar De La Hoya have the same thing in mind.
Just as Alvarez tuned up for Triple G with a watered down version of Golovkin in Julio Cesar Chavez Jr on May 6, Cotto seemingly prepped for the possibility of Kazhakstan's middleweight enforcer via Kamegai. Though crude and limited in technique, the Japanese stalker, like Golovkin, has an iron chin and intestinal fortitude made of steel.
Cotto won virtually every round, but labored every second of each, as Kamegai forced Cotto to empty shells at will while exacting a physical toll on the victor. It was actually exhausting to watch, while difficult to understand how Kamegai could endure such massive artillery from a classic striker.
We saw the type of deft foot movement and head snapping shot variety from Cotto not seen since the infamous first fight with Antonio Margarito. He didn't have Roach back then, but now, under the tutelage of the Wild Card Gym wizard, Cotto has become a solid package of motion with nuanced aggression.
COTTO'S LAST STAND
Methodical in almost every way, Cotto knew what he wanted prior to a difficult divorce from ROC Nation, as a potential rematch with Canelo or a bout with GGG under proper guidelines played a key role in signing with Golden Boy.
Understanding adjustments needed if faced with Canelo again, Roach knew Cotto would need a high work rate and plenty of movement to defeat Golovkin. The very forward, robotic nature of Kamegai provided all of this in spades. Would it work?
Miguel Cotto is far away from his best work at 140, where he put away murderous punchers Randall Bailey and Ricardo Torres in their respective prime. Though rated a head scratching #6 by the WBO, Kamegai would've been thrashed by Erickson Lubin, who rightfully should've been opposite Cotto on Saturday night. To say that Kamegai represented cherry picking is a vast understatement.
This underscores how Cotto's showing under Roach has been a bit misleading, highlighted by work done against damaged fighters. Delvin Rodriguez and Daniel Geale were sanitation workers by the time Cotto got to them, and Sergio Martinez basically had a torn ACL. Canelo was solid. But the Mexican superstar is a better, stronger fighter than the one Cotto faced in November 2015.
As for Golovkin, it would be unwise to believe he's not a world apart from Kamegai (or perhaps, Alvarez). Unless he suddenly developed the bad knees of past victim Yuri Foreman, GGG would simply annihilate Cotto. But hey, the man has earned the right to go out on his shield.
Whatever happens on December 31st, it won't change the fact that Miguel Cotto is perhaps the greatest Puerto Rican fighter of all-time.
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