On March 12th Miguel Cotto will return to the ring when he defends his WBA junior middleweight crown against crude brawler Ricardo Mayorga at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. There will be a press tour to officially announce the bout tomorrow in New York and people fully expect Mayorga to poke and prod and Cotto, given his history for verbal theatrics over the years.
The 37-year old Nicaraguan is one of this generation’s most brazen trash talkers, a huge contrast from the subdued Cotto. Mayorga has faced the likes of Fernando Vargas, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and countless others during his tenure as a prizefighter and he has had derogatory things to say about each of them. People fully expect him to test Cotto’s patience but the champion from Caguas, Puerto Rico seems to know what he is getting into.
“We know what Mayorga is capable of,” Cotto said recently during an interview with Jose Sanchez. ” We know very well. He’s like a book and we’ve already read it. I will do my job as I’ve always done. I will not allow him to take away my peace.”
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Cotto is expected to win the contest but he is far from a lock, given Mayorga’s penchant for landing wild bombs and his willingness to lay his neck on the line. Cotto was looked at as one of the game’s top pound-for-pound stars three years ago but suffered a horrible TKO loss to Antonio Margarito in July of 2008 that set back his career. In that contest Cotto started fast before seeing his Tijuana foe seize momentum in the mid-rounds and eventually scoring enough punishment to halt the action in the 11th.
Cotto would also be stopped by Manny Pacquiao in November of 2009 and his career seemed in question after suffering his second destructive stoppage defeat. But to his credit he regrouped and looked fresh and strong in his last fight, a ninth-round TKO over then-champion Yuri Foreman at Yankee Stadium this past summer. Cotto is now trained by respected veteran Emanuel Steward and seems to have a newfound focus as he heads into somewhat of a twilight phase in his career.
Earlier today I had a talk with former junior welterweight champion Randall Bailey, a man who knows Cotto very well as he suffered a rough sixth round TKO loss to him in December of 2004. The South Florida slugger feels that Miguel should come out on top but realizes how risky a fight with Mayorga is.
“Anybody who steps into the ring you have to be weary of,” Bailey stated. ” Anybody can get knocked out if they get hit right. He just has to continue to do what he’s doing. Stay focused, don’t take nobody for granted, and train hard.”
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at Trimond@aol.com