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Cotto Will Not Be Tough For Mayweather

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MayweatherHatton HOGAN 233Can you imagine if the events in the movie “Groundhog Day” really happened? Can you imagine having to live the same day, over and over and over? Boxing fans could be mistaken for thinking they were actually living the real life version of “Groundhog Day,” having to tolerate the Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao negotiations, which to no surprise after repeated back and forth jockeying, have failed yet again, for about the millionth time.

As an alternative, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will now face Miguel Cotto on May 5th at the MGM in Las Vegas, in the junior welterweight division, with Mayweather moving up from welterweight.

On paper, the fight appears captivating. Cotto will be at his optimum weight, 154 pounds, he is coming off the back of a three fight winning streak, which has seen him defeat Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga and his arch-nemesis Antonio Margarito, all at 154 pounds. Miguel Cotto also gives the impression that he has improved under the guidance of Pedro Diaz and Emanuel Steward before him, adding what appears to be better movement and a solid jab to his arsenal.

And so we get to Floyd Mayweather Jr. He will be 35-years-old come fight night, an age that does not normally bode well for a defensive based fighter, who relies a lot on speed and reflexes. Floyd will also be moving up from 147 to 154, further evidence that Mayweather will be up against it on “Cinco Di Mayo.”

One does not have to be a “student of the game” to realize that Floyd Mayweather is taking a huge risk here, right?

Wrong.

When it comes to boxing, Floyd Mayweather is THE “student of the game.” Despite the fact that one of his favourite quotes is that he doesn't watch footage of his opponents prior to fights, Floyd Mayweather will know exactly how Miguel Cotto operates. He will have watched hours of footage, taken in every Miguel Cotto habit, and come May 5th, will have a blueprint on how to capitalize on them. Make no mistake, Floyd Mayweather's boxing IQ is as high as anyone in the sport, if not higher. This not only includes thinking boxers like Juan Manuel Marquez and Bernard Hopkins, but trainers like Nazim Richardson and Freddie Roach. It's one thing knowing what to do, but another thing entirely to apply it in the ring. Floyd Mayweather also has cheetah speed and reflexes to go with his brain and craft. It is merely an illusion that Mayweather is taking a risk against Cotto.

The biggest problem Miguel Cotto will have on fight night is the fact that he is a converted southpaw. More specifically, his power hand, his left hook, will be his lead hand, not the usual rear hand. Cotto's best chance to win the fight is to land his left hook, in particular his left hook to the body. In there lies the problem. Floyd Mayweather is a master at negating lead hand power punchers, such as Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and even Ricky Hatton. Floyd's defense is designed to neutralise wide looping punches. In order for Miguel to land his left hook, he will have to be squared up to Floyd, and within close proximity. There is no way Mayweather's defensive unit allows for such a wide telegraphed punch. The only shots I've seen land flush on Mayweather are disguised straight punches, from Zab Judah, Chop Chop Corley, and Mosley.

Another problem for converted fighters is their footwork. It is one thing training your upper body to go against your natural directional movement, but to get your upper body in sync with your legs is another thing. If you watch Miguel Cotto fight, he seldom throws punches whilst moving. He moves….stops….then lets his hands go. Floyd Mayweather will have picked up on this. One can see Floyd waiting for the signal, and getting off first every time. Also, if you watch his movement on defense, he backs up in straight lines. This is because his upper body is not linked to his lower body, which leads to him being unable to turn his opponents or utilize head movement. Have a look at the very first punch Mayweather threw in his last outing against Victor Ortiz. Straight right hand, then a step away from the power punch, the right hook. Victor, a converted southpaw, is slow to move because of the confusion between upper and lower body.

If we go, a few years back Floyd Mayweather fought another Puerto Rican fighter named Henry Bruseles, a fighter who bears more than a resemblance to the style of Miguel Cotto. In this fight, we saw Bruseles try and close the distance and land his left hook, much like Cotto will try and do, only to find Mayweather's right arm positioned in such away that his elbow is covering his torso, whilst his right glove is guarding his chin. Cotto will experience this early in the fight, his left hook to head and body taken away and put in the back pocket. After a few rounds of Mayweather making sure that his opponents' primary weapon is eliminated, Mayweather will start and let his straight right hand go, one punch at a time. By the middle rounds I can envision the fight to be all but over, with Mayweather moving laterally, keeping the converted Cotto moving against his usual direction. If Mayweather starts landing clean shots at will, you can expect him to start walking Miguel down. This is Cotto at his most vulnerable, backing up, offering no head movement. While I feel the fight will end up a clear decision win for Floyd, I would not be overly shocked if Mayweather scores the late KO. He has enough power to keep any fighter honest.

Floyd Mayweather is the most versatile, adaptable fighter in boxing, no question. Should Miguel Cotto bring a Plan B or C to the table, you can guarantee Mayweather will have them worked out within a few moments. His A game is to negate his opponent's A game.

Despite the promotional work that will soon be commencing, this fight will not be competitive in this writer's opinion. Floyd Mayweather's skill level does not match his desire for a challenge. He does not take risks in or out of the ring. Every aspect of his boxing world is carefully thought-out. That's why he has selected Cotto, big box office, small chance of winning. Some people say this fight should have happened in 2007 after Mayweather defeated Ricky Hatton. In reality, the result would be the same.

Like Max Schmeling once said about Joe Louis, “I see something.” Floyd Mayweather will have already said the same words whilst looking at Miguel Cotto.

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Denny and Crocker Win in Birmingham: Catterall vs Prograis a Go for Aug. 24

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Matchroom was at Resorts World in Birmingham, England today with a card topped by an EBU European middleweight title fight between Tyler Denny and Felix Cash. Denny was the defending champion and had home field advantage, but Cash, undefeated heading in (16-0, 10 KOs) went to post a consensus 9/4 favorite.

A member of the Irish Traveler community, Cash was making his first start in 18 months. As noted by Tris Dixon, he had a number of distractions during his hiatus, including a bitter divorce. Tonight, he looked rusty and he never did get the chance to establish a rhythm.  In the second round, he suffered a cut on his right eyelid from what was ruled an accidental clash of heads. The cut deepened, and in round five the referee stopped the action and had the ringside physician inspect the wound. On his advice, the bout was stopped.

Owing to the derivation of the cut, the bout went to the scorecards. Tyler Denny was ahead on all three cards: 49-46 and 49-47 twice.

Denny, who improved to 19-2-3, won his second straight inside the distance, an oddity as every one of his first 17 wins went to the scorecards.

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, Belfast welterweight Lewis Crocker advanced to 21-0 (11) with a unanimous but unpopular 10-round decision over Wolverhampton’s Conah Walker (13-3-1). The judges had it 95-94 and 96-93 twice. There were no knockdowns, but Walker had a point deducted in round nine for low blows.

The crowd’s dissatisfaction with the decision (Walker was clearly the busier fighter) was tempered by the fact they got to see a doozy of a fight. At times, notably in the last two rounds, the action was furious.

A rematch is in order, but all indications are that Crocker’s next fight will come against Paddy Donovan who was in attendance. A Top Rank signee from Limerick, Ireland, Donovan is 14-0 as a pro after a decorated amateur career.

Before the main event, Matchroom honcho Eddie Hearn announced that he had come to terms with Jack Catterall and Regis Prograis who will lock horns on Aug. 24 at the new Co-Op Live arena in Manchester, England. In his last assignment, Catterall comprehensively out-pointed former unified 140-pound world champion Josh Taylor while avenging the lone “L” on his record, a highly controversial setback to Taylor two years earlier in Glasgow. Regis Prograis, a two-time world title-holder at 140, has had only bad showing, but that came in his last start when he was thoroughly outclassed by Devin Haney.

Photo credit: Mark Robinson / Matchroom

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Results from Las Vegas where Rafael Espinoza Retained his WBO Title in Grand Style

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Top Rank made its first foray to the newest Las Vegas Strip resort, the Fontainebleu, tonight. Topping the bill was an all-Mexican featherweight title fight between Guadalajara’s Rafael Espinoza and Oaxaca’s Sergio Chirino. The lanky Espinoza, at six-foot-one the tallest featherweight world title-holder in history, was making the first defense of the title he won with a shocking upset of Robeisy Ramirez and tonight he looked sensational.

Espinoza, who advanced his record to 25-0 with his 21st KO, had his countryman on the canvas in the very first round, the result of a counter left uppercut. Chirino wasn’t badly hurt, but it quickly became apparent that he was out-gunned. In round three, Espinoza sent him to the canvas again with a four-punch combo climaxed by a short left to the liver, and Chirino would be down once again in the following round, hunched down from a series of punches that caught only air. At this juncture, referee Raul Caiz Jr wisely stepped in and stopped the fight. The official time was 2:45 of round four. Chirino, who came in riding a 13-fight winning streak, declined to 22-2.

Espinoza is expected to have a rematch with Ramirez, provided that Robeisy gets past his Mexican opponent later this month in a match that, on paper, looks like an easy win for the Cuban southpaw. In their first meeting, the unheralded Espinoza was a massive underdog. Based on his showing tonight, he looks no worse than “pick-‘em” in the sequel.

Co-Feature

In a 10-round junior lightweight fight, North Las Vegas native Andres Cortes scored a unanimous decision over former world title challenger Abraham Nova. The scores favored the local fighter by scores of 96-94 and 97-93 twice.

Cortes had the crowd in his corner, but the reaction when the verdict was announced was one of surprise. Nova, who was credited with throwing and landing more punches, was in better condition and seemingly had the best of it in the late rounds. It was the twenty-second win without a loss for Cortes. Nova (23-3), a class act,  was diplomatic in defeat.

Also

In a true crossroads fight (a “pink slip” fight in the words of ESPN commentator Mark Kriegel),Troy Isley, a former Olympian and stablemate of Terence Crawford, out-worked Javier Martinez to win a unanimous 10-round decision. The judges had it 96-92-and 97-91 twice.

The middleweights were well-acquainted, having split four fights at the amateur level. Isley, from Alexandria, VA, improved to 13-0 (5) Martinez, born in Milwaukee to immigrants from Mexico, was 10-0-1 heading in. Both fighters lost a point for low blows after repeated warnings from referee Tony Weeks.

Other Bouts of Note

In an 8-round bantamweight fight that turned zesty after a slow start, Floyd Mayweather Jr protégé Floyd “Cashflow” Diaz improved to 12-0 (3) with a unanimous decision over Tijuana’s Francisco Pedroza (18-12-2). The judges had it 78-73 across the board. Diaz was making his second start under the tutelage of Brian “Bomac” McIntyre. Pedroza lost a point in round six for hitting on the break.

Steven Navarro, a hot prospect from a prominent SoCal boxing family, won his second pro fight with a 6-round shutout over rugged but outclassed Juan Pablo Meza (7-4), a 33-year-old Chilean.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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Will Eumir Marcial be the First Filipino Boxer to Win an Olympic Gold Medal?

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Will Eumir Marcial be the First Filipino Boxer to Win an Olympic Gold Medal?

Over the years, some of the world’s best boxers have been Filipino. Long before Manny Pacquiao there was Pancho Villa (Francisco Villaruel Guilledo) who became a national hero at the age of twenty-one when he captured the world flyweight title with a one-sided beat-down of Jimmy Wilde in 1923, knocking the legendary Welshman into retirement. But one thing is missing from the Pinoy boxing catalog, an Olympic gold medal. There have been eight medalists in all, four silver and four bronze, but the coveted gold has proved elusive.

Eumir Marcial came close in Tokyo. He advanced to the semi-finals in the middleweight competition where he lost a razor-thin decision to his Ukrainian opponent. Two of the judges favored him, but that was one short of what was needed.

“It took a long time for me to get over it, but I came to accept that God had a different plan for me,” says Marcial who gets another crack at it next month. He survived the qualifying tournaments and is headed to Paris where he will carry the flag of the Philippines into the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad.

Eumir (you-meer) Marcial grew up in Zamboanga City in the southern region of the archipelago, a two-day trip to Manila by ferry. He was introduced to boxing by his father Eulalio Marcial who besides being a farmer and a jitney driver is also the head coach of the Zamboanga City (amateur) boxing team.

Eulalio’s son is a big wheel in his native habitat, one of the more urbanized areas of the Philippines. This past October, when Eumir returned to Zamboanga City with his silver medal from the Asian Games in China, a motorcade awaited him at the airport and he was whisked to City Hall where he was feted in a ceremony organized by civic leaders.

In Las Vegas, where he was been training for the Olympics, he’s anonymous. No one genuflects when he walks into the DLX Gym in the company of his attractive wife Princess. He’s just another face in the crowd and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Marcial had one pro fight under his belt before the Tokyo Games. In December of 2020, he won a 4-round decision over a 3-1 opponent from Idaho on a card in Los Angeles. Not quite two months before that fight, while training at Freddie Roach’s gym, Marcial, who has two sisters, received the devastating news that his only brother Eliver had died in the Philippines of a sudden heart attack at age 39. Despite the age difference, the two were extremely close.

Marcial has had four more pro fights since then, advancing his record to 5-0 (3 KOs). In two of those fights, he had anxious moments.

In his second pro fight, he was knocked down three times in the first two frames, but gathered his wits about him and stopped his opponent in round four. In his next outing, a 6-rounder on the undercard of a Showtime PPV, he fought through a bad gash over his right eye, the result of an accidental head butt.

“I learned a lot from those fights,” says Marcial, “and they will make me a better Olympian than I was in 2021.”

Marcial spent nearly 10 years in the Philippines Air Force, but as somewhat of a civilian employee, spending little time around aircraft. He attracted a lot of attention after winning the AIBA world junior championship as a 15-year-old bantamweight in Kazakhstan in 2011. The Air Force seized on his growing fame to make him a recruiting specialist.

The word icon is over-used, but not when applied to Manny Pacquiao who overcame abject poverty to become an international superstar. “He was an inspiration to me,” says Marcial who references “PacMan” as Sir Manny or Senator Manny when he speaks about him.

The two would become well-acquainted. Pacquiao co-promoted Marcial’s last pro fight in Manila which was nationally televised in the Philippines and billed as a homecoming for Eumir who hadn’t fought in a Manila ring in five years. (He knocked out his Thai opponent in the fourth round.)

Marcial recalls some advice that Pacquiao gave him: “He said to me, ‘the higher you get, the more humble you should be.’”

Humbleness comes natural to the affable Marcial who is unstinting in his praise of those who have helped him along on his journey. “I would not have gotten through the qualifying tournament for the Paris games if not for my coach Kay Koroma,” he says.

Nowadays, whenever a Filipino boxer appears for a photo-op, Sean Gibbons is certain to be standing close by. Gibbons, who has homes in Las Vegas and the Philippines, has had an amazing ride since the days when he plied the Oklahoma and Midwest circuits, driving hundreds of miles each month to small shows in the sticks, transporting carloads of journeymen boxers with him. “[Sean Gibbons] helps us with accommodations, rental cars, whatever we need, and I am so grateful to him,” says Marcial of the man (pictured above on the left) who wears many hats but is perhaps best described as a facilitator.

Making matters more daunting for Marcial going forward, his weight class was eliminated when the governing body of the Olympics added a new weight category for women, subtracting one from the men. A middleweight (165-pound ceiling) in Tokyo, he will perform as a light heavyweight (176-pound ceiling) in Paris.

Eumir Marcial will return to the pro ranks regardless of what happens in France, but lassoing that elusive Olympic gold medal would likely bring him more joy than anything he may accomplish at the next level.

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