Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cotto whips adversity for shot at Pacquiao, then revenge

By Norm Frauenheim
Special to CBSSports.com

Adversity, Miguel Cotto's stubborn foe for the past year, never had a chance. He looked it in the eye, stared it down and countered with poise in the face of lingering questions about his lone loss to Antonio Margarito, a nasty split with his ex-trainer and a bloody night that ended in a tough decision over Joshua Clottey on June 13.

Cotto has overcome, although I'm not sure he can all over again in a pound-for-pound showdown, possibly on Nov. 14, with Manny Pacquiao. There were moments in the split decision over Clottey when adversity's toll -- wear and tear and Sugar Shane Mosley -- began to display some inevitable symptoms on Cotto's bloodied-and-beaten face. He might be a step beyond his prime. We'll see soon enough. But I won't bet against him, simply because of his evident courage and versatile ability to think through a very tough fight.

However, plans for the second fight in the post-Clottey stage of Cotto's career makes me stop and pause. His Top Rank promoter, Bob Arum, wants a rematch with Margarito, when and if Margarito can get a new license after it was taken from him by California for trying to turn his gloves into a loaded weapon before a January loss to Mosley in Los Angeles.

Yes, Cotto said after his narrow victory over Clottey at New York's Madison Square Garden, Margarito is "a possibility."

For Arum, it is a financial windfall or two more than just that.

"Huge," said Arum, who also promotes Margarito.

The marketing angle is undeniable. Revenge sells. Cotto has repeatedly said he doesn't know whether Margarito's gloves were altered a year ago in Las Vegas. But the public suspicion, right or wrong, is that they were.

After what I saw in Cotto against Clottey, I'm more convinced now than ever that Margarito's gloves were loaded with fatal potential. With blood streaming into one eye after a head butt in the third round, Cotto fought on against Clottey. From the fourth through the 12th rounds, there was never any sign of surrender. Cotto is no quitter, yet he quit in the 11th against Margarito. It was out of character. It makes sense only when placed within the context of what was later discovered before opening bell in Margarito's loss to Mosley.

A rematch would be Cotto's chance at some payback. On the flip side, it is a way for Margarito to prove his upset was no fluke or felony.

My problem is this: It doesn't matter whether you believe Margarito when he says he didn't know what was being applied to his hands. The questions are there and always will be. In a rematch with Cotto, he would be rewarded for suspicions that sell. Arum has backed off his earlier plans to have Margarito fight in Mexico.

Instead, he said he would go through the California process, which includes an appeal. That's good news. If Arum had tried to sidestep California regulators with a Margarito bout in Mexico, suspicions would only have deepened.

But it's safe to say that there will plenty of controversial headwinds in Margarito's attempt to regain a license in California or any other state subject to regulation. There will be more than a few rival promoters and fighters -– you know who they are -– bound to object.

But in an eye-for-eye, mano-a-mano culture, that kind of controversy sells, too. There's a chance to get filthy rich, which all too often is the only thing that matters.

Notes, quotes and oddservations

• I believe Floyd Mayweather Jr. when he says damaged rib cartilage forced the postponement of his July 18 fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. I also believe he was relieved at the injury's timing. Reports indicate that early ticket sales for Mayweather-Marquez were slow. After Cotto-Clottey, Arum was skeptical about a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight because of Mayweather's mindset. "Psychologically”, Arum said, Mayweather can't risk defeat. For the last couple years, Mayweather has proclaimed himself as the pay-per-view king. Psychologically, he might also not be able to risk a box-office bust.

• A solid card is scheduled for Desert Diamond Casino south of Tucson next Friday, June 26. The Golden Boy card, its second at Desert Diamond this year, will feature New York middleweight Daniel Jacobs and junior-middleweight Ersilandy Lara, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist from Cuba. Heavyweight Deontay Wilder, who won America's only boxing medal -- bronze -- in Bejiing, is also on the EPN2-televised card.

• Pacquiao has been showing up everywhere, even Forbes. The magazine puts him on list that includes Tiger Woods as one of the world's high-paid athletes. After pay-per-view receipts were counted, he collected a reported $12 million for his victory over Ricky Hatton. According to the Filipino media, that's just $4 million short of the $16 million in foreign investments in the Philippines for February. No wonder they call him a national treasure.

• And the Los Angeles Times reports that Bernard Hopkins is interested in celebrating his 45th birthday in January with a fight, either against super-middleweight champion Carl Froch or cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek. Reaction: Wondering who Hopkins will fight when he turns 50.

Source: http://www.cbssports.com/boxing/story/11872781 (June 19, 2009)

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