Cotto: A Yankee Stadium Redemption

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[BoxingGlove Notes]

The story here is not so much the courageuos losing effort which resulted in a knockout loss for Yuri Foreman, but the highlight was the resurgence of a "new" Miguel Angel Cotto.

From the very first round Saturday --from the short 8 weeks under the expert tutelage of Emanuel Steward-- he displayed a controled but savage discipline in his quest of Foreman's  W.B.A. Super Welterweight title.

We were excited in anticipating this new or era of professional boxing in the new Yankee Stadium after an over 34 year hiatus, this past Saturday, June 5, 2010.  We were not prepared --although advertised in that fashion-- for the actual slugfest that we witnessed, under the great tropical breeze of the Stadium.

Cotto fooled the skeptics-- the brutal manner is what left us stunned when we saw a determined former 3-time world champ begin his initial brutal offense by jabbing at Yuri Foreman with such force that by the end of the second round Foreman's face was a red mask with blood beginning to streak down from his nose. Of course, Foreman moved as is his style from side to side, staying out of harm's way; but Cotto moved constantly forward and cut off the ring. That's how he caught Foreman and punished him.

In the second round Cotto hit Foreman with a right hand that actually staggered him which in a sense began to paint the picture of the outcome of the fight.

The skeptics who felt that Cotto was a shot fighter soon realized that they were in for a surprise; Foreman (now 28-1, 1 k.o.) was forced to give up ground to the well prepared, strong, determined Cotto while trying to figure out how to stop this "raging bull."

By the fourth round, it was apparent that Foreman's corner was in a desperation mode, advising him to side step and move to his right to avoid the destructive avalanche of Cotto. He was cut in both eyes; his nose bled profusely, and his body reddened. 

Without a doubt this Championship fight was not a complete shutout. It was indeed a slug fest as advertised; Foreman fought back courageously, hitting Cotto with combinations of punches, and then moving away, especially in the seventh round when Foreman fell down on a suspected wet canvass and severly reinjured his right knee.

This was the result of an old injury forcing him to enter the ring with an elastic knee brace. Not wanting the fight to be stopped, Foreman moved forward throwing punches in bunches, hitting Cotto repeatedly; but it was for naught since you could detect the he was in severe pain which caused him to fall down a second time.

This time the pain was agonizingly registered on his face prompting the referee Arthur Mercante, Jr., to halt proceedings; oddly enough he told Foreman he would give him time to recover, as if he had been fouled. He also encouraged him to continue, saying: "Suck it up kid; you're the champ. I give you five minutes."

To add to the confusion, a towel of surrender was thrown in from the Foreman corner, which Referee Mercante immediately threw out refusing to let the fight end in a surrender.

He asked Foreman if he wanted to continue, which was ridiculous, because a fighter's will to continue will always prevail, especially in the case of a champ like Foreman. The ring was a mad house of confusion until order was restored. The fight continued into the ninth round, when a severly injured Foreman was knocked out by a vicious left hook to his liver by Cotto, prompting the Referee to finally end the fight at 42 seconds of the round.
Cotto's patented punishing left hook was back.

It is mind boggling to me. How could a veteran referee --and the son of a hall of fame referee, the late Arthur Marcante, Sr.-- encourage a fighter already in pain to risk more pain or quite possibly career-ending injuries,  to continue to fight when Foreman could not fight anymore?

I thought a referee's responsibility was to give the fighters their instructions as per the Marquis of Queeensbury Rules, protect the fighter, and also stop the fight when the fighter is injured and cannot continue, as was the case with Foreman's right knee severely injured. Foreman was defenseless from punches. Yet, Mercante, who obviously evidently was not in any pain himself, kept encouraging Foreman to "suck it up" and continue.
I am curious as to what opinion the Boxing Commissioner would render in this troublesome and somewhat questionable situation by the referee.

We were later advised that the surrender towel was thrown by Joe Grier, Foreman's trainer at the behest of his wife Leyla Leidecker. Referee Mercante was within his right to reject the towel. There is a rule in the Boxing Commission dockets that stipulates that only the referee can stop a fight.

Yet we've had history of ring fatalities. If there is a belief that a fighter's life needs to be protected, a fighter's corner, the ring doctor, a Commission Inspector, the Boxing Commissioner, all should have the authority to stop the fight.

This great fight was marred by this controversy which will be talked about for years to come and actually and hopefully, studied for improved measures as to when to stop a fight; fighters should always be saved from further injury or death.

Yuri Foreman 's courageous efforts won many fans. Yet he was already losing in the Judge's score cards, since both Judges, Donald Ackerman and Steve Weisfeld, scored the fight, 79-74 in Cotto's favor; Judge Tony Paolillo, scored it, 79-74 also for Cotto. I gave Foreman only the 4th round.

Cotto (now 35-2, 28 k.o.s) earned a $2 million dollar purse while Foreman earned $750,000.

Could Cotto and Bob Arum with his Top Rank Promotion be plotting a rematch with Manny Pacquiao? With Antonio Margarito? Maybe a challenge for W.B.O. 147 pound champ, Andre Berto's crown?

As for Foreman--a long rest to help him plan his options and to also give his knee enough time to recover completely and of course he'll continue his Rabbinical studies. If he decides to continue to fight and not retire, he will be welcomed back in the ring.

End Note: There is talk that Jerry Jones' Cowboy Stadium may host Manny Pacquiao on November 13, 2010 for the world-awaited mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather.


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