If it feels like there hasn’t been that much sizzle around Saturday’s June 6, 2015 HBO battle at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY between WBC and Ring Magazine Middleweight World Champion Miguel Cotto (39-4, 32KOs) and former Two-Time World Champion Daniel Geale (31-3, 14KOs), generally if it walks like a duck and squawks like one… well, usually it is one. True, it’s hard to get excited about Cotto vs. Geale as in Geale’s last fight, he was reduced to quitting on his stool in no less than two rounds against Gennady Golovkin (33-0, 30KOs), who has been all but begging for the chance to win all of the marbles or die on his sword fighting the likes of a Cotto or a Canelo Alvarez (45-1-1, 32KOs), incidentally someone else that wanted a fight against Cotto, but due to somewhat murky mix ups and etiquette faux pas around contract signage was rejected by Cotto. All of this possibility, yet after a stunning win over Sergio Martinez (51-3-2, 28KOs), to earn that World Championship title, we have Cotto versus Geale. Nothing against Geale, but their were just sexier juicier opponents that undoubtedly went via death by politics. And politics are often the death of entertainment. Perhaps if this particular game of musical chairs were the only non-fan friendly issue going into this match, there would be a bit more fan interest and goodwill going into this fight. But when you add the fact that this fight isn’t even for the title, but at a catch weight of 157 versus 160, a move favoring Cotto as the naturally smaller man, something just isn’t entirely kosher when it comes to revving up that old team spirit.
It’s a bit of a difficult space that Cotto finds himself in with the details surrounding how he became the top man on the hill in the middleweight division. Publicly the spin has been that Cotto, now with seasoned Hall of Fame star trainer Freddie Roach is a rejuvenated fighter. As it has been spun, a fighter, especially one that means to exist in the rarefied air of the A list crew, needs a village to stay on top – i.e. a trainer with a plan and the ability to improve his fighter – not simply maintain the talent he or she already possesses. Before Roach, Cotto really had no village and was for all intents and purposes his own coach. Only because of his superior talent, Cotto was able to survive at the top of the division as long he had in this way. However, much like the phrase, “a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client, ” Cotto eventually learned this lesson as it applies in the professional fight game. Cotto learned it first against Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38KOs), then against Floyd Mayweather (48-0, 26KOs) to be followed quickly by Austin Trout (29-2, 16KOs). It seemed like Cotto was done, however Cotto turned around and did a very smart thing. Cotto found the humility to align himself with Freddie Roach, the very man who trained Manny Pacquiao against him. From that point on, the magic of team Miguel Cotto/Freddie Roach was born and in suitable Camelot fashion beat the hell out of the then monster of the 160 division in Sergio Martinez. But even in fairy tales, rebirth can be a sticky business so it would seem. Sergio Martinez, a natural 160 pounder, was revealed to have already been a diminished fighter when he fought Cotto. Martinez hasn’t fought since that fight, and has admitted that preexisting physical issues hindered him in that battle, making it anything but the confidence boosting David beating Goliath type of a feat Cotto surely believed it was at the time. As such, Cotto finds himself in the predicament of being a smaller man in a division full of undiminished bigger power laden opponents (Golovkin and Canelo, to name the biggest threats) looking to have his head. So Cotto, wisely unsure of his actual fortitude in the division against it’s more formidable challengers, is a cautious champion – something that is an unfortunate reality given his great skills, power and legacy.
Hopefully the lack of excitement going into tomorrow’s match proves misplaced. Geale is a talented and dangerous fighter. Perhaps the magnitude of his loss against Golovkin was simply not his best night and he proves a real enduring test for Cotto. Conversely, one hopes Cotto performs in such a way against Geale – the naturally bigger man, but not someone known for devastating power – that he feels more confident in his ability to fight at 160 against the bigger public draws in the division. This would be a great night of fighting and something that the fans can really jump up and shout about.
Written by Kylie Krabbe
Photos by Rich Kane - Hoganphotos/Roc Nation Sports/Miguel Cotto Promotions
June 5th 2015