Image: Top Rank

Rolling Thunder: Miguel Cotto TKO3 Delvin Rodriguez


****

“What do you expect, one is what one is, partly at least.” – Samuel Beckett, Malloy

Miguel Cotto got off the schneid at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday night, steamrolling Delvin Rodriguez in three rounds before a crowd of nearly 12,000.

After suffering consecutive losses to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Austin Trout, Cotto faced questions regarding how much he had left, and, perhaps more important, just how much he wanted to give. Trainer Pedro Diaz was given his walking papers, replaced by A-lister Freddie Roach, who, like Cotto, has watched his own heyday disappear in the rearview mirror. The marriage of the offensive-minded Roach and the shopworn Cotto has injected some life into the fighter’s twilight run. After Manny Pacquiao ran him through a wood-chipper in 2009, Cotto, Caguas, Puerto Rico, become increasingly reliant on his boxing skills to win fights, tempering the ferocity that typified his destructive craft with some cuter tricks. Was there a seance or two, maybe some dark hours with a Ouija board to go with the mitt work to help conjure up Cotto’s past as he prepared for Rodriguez? Whatever tactics Roach employed, they worked. Roach wanted Cotto to fight. Cotto fought, and Rodriguez suffered the consequences.

Inspired by Roach’s refurbishing wizardry, Cotto, 153, stalked Rodriguez from the opening bell, lashing him with hooks to the body while dismissing Rodriguez’ half-hearted shots with disdain. Never a big puncher at junior middleweight, Cotto’s power also suffered from a lack of conviction: he stopped sitting down on his punches when avoiding damage became nearly as crucial as producing it. Against Rodriguez, however, Cotto brought the heat.

Working to the head and body, Cotto kept Rodriguez, Danbury, Connecticut, a beat behind the abusive rhythm, and drummed whatever flesh Rodriguez conceded. And Rodriguez conceded everything; even a blindfolded Cotto could hit Rodriguez so long as he mixed up his attack. Rodriguez wanted nothing to do with Cotto, who sensed reluctance and went gunning for the kill. As the second round came to a close, two wicked hooks upstairs had a stupefied Rodriguez blinking and shaking his head as he waited for his stool and the one-minute respite.

Unable to evade Cotto, and with the torrent of blows pouring in from every angle, Rodriguez was, to borrow from Armor for Sleep, “in a car underwater with time to kill.” He got off his stool for the start of the third, but a mere 18 seconds into the round was bludgeoned by a right hand and left hook that convinced referee Frank Santore, Jr., to stop the fight. It was a surprising stoppage, but Rodriguez, 154, offered little protest, having done nothing in the previous two rounds to justify fighting more.

The question now is what to make of Cotto’s performance. Following his loss to Trout last December, TCS had this to say about him: “Cotto’s reputation exceeds his ability, and equilibrium between the two is merely a sound beating away.” In shellacking Rodriguez, did Cotto actually widen the gap between his reputation and ability? He impressed under Roach’s tutelage, yes, but he blew out a journeyman. All the talk of Cotto’s phoenix routine is premature—he hit a homerun in batting practice. Granted, that is grounds for lionization these days, and HBO will trumpet this apparent rejuvenation because Cotto, a guaranteed draw, is back under their banner. But no one knows what Cotto, 38-4 (31), has left. Rodriguez barely touched him, let alone hurt him, and the fight was over before any improvements in Cotto’s conditioning were revealed. Cotto is no scavenger, though. He will face a top shelf opponent in his next fight, the type of fighter who will weigh how much of his past he has recaptured, and how much is lost forever. History says the scale should be expected to tip for the latter.

That top-shelf opponent could be middleweight Sergio Martinez. Martinez has been crying about smaller stars not fighting him for years, and he will surely weep tears of joy if presented with a stationary, cash-grab Cotto. If he isn’t spent, Martinez remains too big, too fast, and too powerful for Cotto, who will take the fight despite its hazards because that is what a professional prizefighter does. Cotto is as professional as prizefighters come.

The same can be said of Rodriguez, 28-7-3 (16). He will continue to rough up his peers while coming up short against the best; sweating and bleeding in pursuit of a best case scenario that ends with him being well compensated for getting beaten up.

****

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Tags: Delvin Rodriguez Miguel Cotto SERGIO MARTINEZ

  • Dennis Wise

    Carlos,
    I agree with your take. Despite what we saw Saturday Cotto surely will still mark up and swell up very easily against a better opponent, and he’ll still fade late. I think I said this before, but I’m still surprised how much he does have left. Given the two major beatings he’s taken, the fluctuations in weight and all the rest of his issues over the years, its a shock he isn’t completely shot.

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi Dennis,

      Like you, I’m surprised Cotto has anything left, and I lean toward his next stern test giving him hell. He’s an old 32, no matter what Rodriguez lead us to believe. And despite Roach’s confidence, I imagine Cotto will revert to his more recent form as soon as someone hits him back.

      There’s a chance Martinez is cooked, and if so, Cotto might be able to take him, but I’d still make Martinez a prohibitive favourite. The other possibility could be Marquez moving up to 154 if he beats Bradley. That’s a better fight for Cotto, for sure.

      As a big Cotto fan, I have to admit it was great watching him tear Rodriguez up. The guy Evangelista had to smack sense into when Cotto was going life and death with Torres, the guy who pulped Zab Judah, who destroyed Kelson Pinto and Carlos Quintana, was what it’s all about.

      • Dennis Wise

        JT, my bad. Great recap.

        I agree its hard to see Martinez being far gone enough. And I expect him to get healthy and have another good-enough-performance in him. Marquez at 154 is an interesting, if bizarre thought. I assume he’ll go full action figurine physique for that.

        Like you, I think, I’d really just like to see Cotto retire happy and healthy.

  • scott christianson

    Good recap JT.

    I, like most everyone else, expected a Cotto W, but to starch a solid chinned guy like Delvin was awesome. What I liked most about it was how determined and focused he was, even though it wasn’t an A level opponent like he usually faces. Shows me Roach did his job and has me excited for his next fight. Wouldn’t mind Zoo, Canelo (TR-GBP war aside), or JMM-Bradley winner for him and although he may be a significant underdog to some or all of those, it feels much more relevent that it would have 6 months ago. I just want one more big MSG fight, missed out on Cotto-Margs 2.

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi Skillz, thanks dude.

      How great was it to see the old killer version of Cotto again? Maybe being more offensive minded gets him drilled against Serge, or even Marquez, but whatever. That version of Cotto is so exciting I’d rather he go out swinging. Relevant’s the right word, I think. And the connection between relevance and excitement can’t be ignored.

      I want Serge to man up and face Golovkin, but that probably isn’t next for him. Sure, Martinez-Cotto holds some appeal, but honestly, I’d rather see him face Marquez. The opportunity to win the middleweight championship of the world is probably too much for Cotto to pass up though.