By Lee Payton
The fight lived up to expectations. Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey both fought through adversity to make a legitimate case for themselves after 12 tense rounds of boxing. They pushed hard during every stanza in search of a working margin that would never really materialize.
It was a tight contest that saw the combatants battle for center ring in the first half and take more pronounced approaches during the final six rounds. Clottey pressed the action, moving forward steadily behind his responsible guard. Cotto circled on the outside to keep out of harms way, while also looking for the right times to explode with a flurry. In the end, both men thought they had done enough to win, and it's hard to argue with them after their efforts under pressure.
Cotto was handicapped by a clash of heads which produced a long, nasty gash over his left eye in the third round. It was the kind of cut that could have easily ended things early. And perhaps it was the cut, and not his opponent's hunger, that made him shift into reverse for large portions of the fight.
Clottey was the victim of a very slippery canvas. He was tossed off balance in the middle of an assault on more than a few occasions because of the slick advertisements under is feet. In the 5th, a nifty little shove sent him down awkwardly and seemed to damage his knee. It was awhile before he had his legs back, which cost him at least a round on the cards.
He also gave up a 10-8 in the first when he was knocked down by a Cotto jab. The punch didn't hurt, but the early deficit made getting a decision victory even less likely than most assumed going in. The fact that he was clearly winning the round was salt into an already annoying wound.
In the ring, neither man was done any favours. It turned out to be a different story on the ring apron however.
Judges Don Trella (116-111 Cotto) and John McKaie (115-112 Cotto) did not have great nights. Trella's card is particularly bad. No, not just bad, inexcusable. I'm not familiar with his past work,and I don't want to become familiar with anything he does from here if that is his honest opinion of the fight. We don't need to see him for some time.
In my opinion, if that fight was 8-4 or 7-5 for anyone, it was for the man from Ghana. The fact that he didn't have a chance of winning the fight with a 10-9 12th round is unfair. Period.
Honestly, the only reason 6-6 is acceptable to me is because Cotto did more in what I thought was going to be a crucial final round. Even though it didn't matter, he did a very good job of keeping his man handcuffed with movement while getting off first, but that isn't what happened for the majority of the night.
When one guy lands more punches, does more damage, presses the fight and lands the cleaner punches on a retreating opponent... I usually give him the fight. And if Clottey didn't do enough to win the fight, I don't see how Cotto did either.
We all knew it was Miguel's house. We knew he would be a little busier and that the crowd was going to make a lot of noise whenever he did anything, but those things shouldn't come into play with professional judges at this level. Crowd noise isn't part of the criteria they are supposed to use, and clean punches should get the nod over those taken on forearms.
Just because a round could be scored one way doesn't mean it should. I don't know why, but I expect better.
While I was disappointed with the final tally, the guys between the ropes came out of this elevated, in my mind. Clottey showed everyone that he belongs. Cotto showed that he's moved on from the Margarito nightmare. It's probably on to something bigger for the winner, but damn, it would be a shame not to see these two do it again at some point.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009
By Lee Payton