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Miguel Cotto: Boxing’s Whipping Boy?

by Paul Magno

I’ve been racking my brain to remember a time when a defending world champion with as much credibility as Miguel cottobeaten2Cotto has been treated so dismissively by his opponents, the sanctioning body he represents and the very promoter who is supposed to have his best interests in mind.

The disrespect tossed at Cotto has been a lesson for all those “good soldiers” in the sport who tow the company line and keep their mouths shut.

The first “dis” came following Cotto’s brutal beatdown at the hands of Antonio Margarito.

As everyone knows, Margarito was found to be wearing hand wraps coated with a “plaster-like” substance prior to his bout with Shane Mosley. When people put two and two together many put a big question mark over all of Margarito’s wins, most notably his brutal destruction of Miguel Cotto and the grotesque manner in which he battered Cotto’s face.

Top Rank honcho and alleged member of Team Cotto, Bob Arum, spent most of the “Plaster Gate” scandal defending Margarito and denying the loaded wrap claims…at the expense of the feelings of probable victim, Miguel Cotto.

Cotto sat back and remained the strong silent type, only occasionally giving voice to the anger he felt inside for the possible cheat and the frustration of having his own promoter defend the fighter who may have, literally, stolen millions from him when his loss ruined the chance of a showdown with Oscar De la Hoya.

Then, after suffering a beating that may have been caused by an illegal substance and having his promoter turn his back on him, Manny Pacquiao jumps in and claims the glory that could very well have been his by knocking off Oscar.

Cotto is forced into a nothing fight with Michael Jennings and a tough battle with Joshua Clottey for a fraction of the pay he would’ve received from a De la Hoya bout.

All this leads to an eventual big money showdown with Manny Pacquiao where despite being the reigning champ, he is forced to give in to every one of Pacquiao’s demands, including an arbitrary 145 lb. limit.

While the blame for this weak negotiating falls squarely on Team Cotto, it should be pointed out that the intermediary, Arum, never once lifted a finger to argue on Cotto’s side of the table…despite having just lured Cotto to a two-year extension on his Top Rank contract.

Now, the latest indignity for Cotto is that he’s being told to either put up his WBO Welterweight title for the Pacquiao fight or be forced to vacate.

Cotto’s take on this and, in my opinion, the correct one, is that since a world Welterweight title is fought between 140 and 147, it is against the organization’s rules to be forced to fight at an arbitrary catchweight for the title.

The WBO, of course, cares little about fair play and professionalism and decided to counter Cotto’s correct assertion by making Pacquiao their number one contender at 147 despite only one win at Welter, against an unranked De la Hoya.

Like it or not, Cotto will put up his hard-earned title and, without a doubt, it should be made clear that he’s being forced to. If Cotto balks, he will find himself without the title and it will be Pacquiao’s to win, anyway.

How’s that for respectful treatment of a veteran champion?

Beaten with illegal wraps, Your cheating conqueror defended by your own promoter, your promotional company allowing you to be raped in negotiations and the sanctioning body you represent forcing you to ignore their own bylaws and put the belt on the line…Geesh!

It’s no wonder guys like De la Hoya and Mayweather opted to be on their own as soon as they reached the top…there’s just no loyalty among thieves.

The best revenge for Cotto is to come into the Pacquiao fight, saddled with every possible psychological disadvantage, and stop the insanity right then and there with a big win…but, even then, he has to contend with the officials, who are always up for a good screw job, especially if it’s in favor of a fighter “about to make history” with seven titles in seven weight divisions.

Miguel Cotto deserves better.

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Boxing’s Prospects Fail to Make It to the Promised Land

by Paul Magno

Something’s been happening to boxing’s young prospects.

Actually, something’s not happening to them: They’re not winning.

The latest example was in this past Saturday’s Latin Fury 10 PPV, which saw highly-regarded Lightweight prospect, acosta-antillonUrbano Antillon, taste the canvas, and defeat, for the first time against the unknown Venezuelan stylist, Miguel Acosta.

On a personal note for Antillon, he failed in his attempt to win the vacant Interim WBA Lightweight title and failed to live up to the hype that had him regarded by Larry Merchant of HBO as a “can’t miss” future superstar.

However, in the big picture, Antillon’s inability to cope with simple lateral movement spoke of a greater problem behind the scenes of the sport. It spoke of a future generation of star athletes who are simply not being taught the skills to go along with their athletic promise.

The list of failed prospects in recent weeks is almost comical:

*Well-regarded amateur stand-out, Juan Carlos Velasquez, is defeated by Mexican journeyman, Jose Beranza, on Friday Night Fights. Velasquez actually seemed to be shocked and surprised that Beranza would fight back.

*Colombian banger, and destroyer of fellow prospect, Amir Khan, Breidis Prescott is outpointed by Miguel Vazquez, basically, because he had no idea how to deal with Vazquez’s head movement.

*Golden Boy’s Victor Ortiz is battered and psychologically torn down by Marcos Maidana, the first fighter with the nerve to actually keep fighting when confronted with the force of a “future superstar.”

*Alfredo Angulo is bested by Kermit Cintron because of his utter inability to deal with lateral movement, even when that lateral movement comes from a non-speedster like Cintron.

*Deandre Latimore is out-slugged by, of all people, a flat-footed and immobile Cory Spinks. deandre_latimore

One by one, the prospects are falling from contention and they’re not being replaced by veteran stars like in the case of Bernard Hopkins’ one-sided schooling of Kelly Pavlik.

Many of these young talents are being beaten by the products of hardcore boxing gyms in Latin America. They’re being beaten by fighters who, 10 or 20 years ago, would’ve been little more than a snack for talented athletes on their way to titles.

So, what’s the problem? What’s happening to our young lions?

Part of the problem rests in the fact that “old school” boxing trainers are mostly a thing of the past in the United States. For every Freddie Roach, there are a couple dozen trainers who would be better-suited working an aerobics class.

Serious boxing gyms are disappearing and the quality trainers are literally dying off.

There simply aren’t enough of the blood-and-guts Teddy Atlas-types who will take the time to teach their kids solid fundamentals and the value of being mentally prepared as a professional.

Instead, they are fed into an amateur system which now values arm-punches and “back-foot” fighting over a professional defense and a workable inside game.

In the modern amateur game, points are valued more than power and a light jab is a bigger asset than solid body punching.

It’s no wonder young fighters seem to be lacking a certain degree of mental toughness these days.

The second reason for this apparent failure of the young prospects has to do with our culture.

We are in a culture of instant gratification where anything worth having better be had right now.

It takes a lifetime to become a fundamentally solid professional boxer. It’s something that takes blood, sweat and tears. Hour after hour is spent going over one basic move, until it’s perfected.

Unfortunately, in a prize-fighting world of flailing, crude UFC brawls and “extreme” instant gratification, many young people simply don’t have the patience or dedication to sweat for hours at a time on something as mundane as learning how to walk the ring.

The scary part is that, at some point, those boxers who have taken the time to learn their craft, will retire, leaving behind this crop of talented, but not fundamentally sound pretenders.

Then, what will boxing look like?

Discuss This Topic on the BTBC Message Board!

Monthly Awards, June ’09

Hey, better late than never, right?

Fighter of the Month-

Marcos Maidana: He was being brought in as a stepping stone for Golden Boy’s Victor Ortiz, one small obstacle on Ortiz’s path to stardom. The Interim WBA 140 lb belt practically had Ortiz’s name on it already and the 8,000 plus fans who came to the Staples Center were mostly coming to see the new phenom who would carry the Golden Boy banner into the future.

It would’ve been so easy for Maidana to give up. There were several opportunities for the tough Argentinan to take the payday, relish the memories and go back home.

The hard knockdown in the first gave Maidana his first chance to quit, but he came back strong and ended up knocking Ortiz down in the same round.

Two knockdowns in the second surely would signal the end. After all, he had already shown his toughness by surviving a tough first round and leveling Ortiz. But Maidana fought on and survived the round.

Then, while still absorbing punishment from the heavy-handed Ortiz, he fought on, grinding down Ortiz until he was able to seriously stun him at the end of the 5th.

Beaten down and demoralized, Ortiz was pushed around the ring by the aggressive Maidana in the 6th until he got knocked to the canvas. When Ortiz got up, he clearly wanted no part of Maidana and waved off the fight before the referee did the same, officially because of the cut that Ortiz had sustained.

For defying the odds and snatching the glory during another fighter’s coming out party, Marcos Maidana is The BTBC’s Fighter of the Month.

Bum of the Month-

Ruslan Chagaev: Now, imagine the exact opposite of Marcos Maidana.

Chagaev was regarded as the #2 ranked Heavyweight by the BTBC and no lower than #4 by all other sources. He was coming in as a replacement when David Haye pulled out of the fight and was thought to be a tough test for Heavyweight champ, Wladimir Klitschko.

Chagaev walked into Klitschko’s home turf, among 60,000 fight fans, and promptly rolled over without even the slightest hint of defiance.

From the very beginning, Klitschko used his outstretched arm to mark the distance at which he wanted Chagaev to stay…and Chagaev dutifully obeyed, staying at the perfect distance for Wlad and offering no desire to work his way inside.

Chagaev sustained a beating for 9 one-sided rounds until a cut over his eye forced his corner to throw in the towel.

For entering a ring with absolutely no desire to win the fight, Ruslan Chagaev is our Bum of the Month.

The BTBC Thread of the Month-

Pacquiao okays Cotto as next foe



This was a debate involving Pacquiao, Cotto and Mayweather; Plus, Pacquiao’s proper ranking at 140 lbs. How could this one not generate heated debate?

Madcow’s Standing 8 Count (6/29/09)

by Madcow

Aside from actually being written, this week’s column will be a little different.

Last week, as you all know, Michael Jackson died. I have had a special relationship throughout my life with madcow11Jackson. No, I never got to visit Neverland ranch as a child and I was never able to share a can of Jesus Juice with the “one-gloved-one.”

My connection with Jackson isn’t even about music. Actually, I’m luke warm to his talents.

No. My link with Jackson goes directly through Lori C, Madcow’s first love and a very fine looking High School Junior with bubble gum lip gloss and a teddy bear backpack.

I had taken “Ms. C” to the Junior Prom and, to spare all the details, that was the night your favorite bovine became a man.

On the way home, I turned on the radio in my clunker in absolute glee and the first song on the radio was “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. Not my type of music, but on that particular night, it was the greatest song I had ever heard.

So, this column is dedicated to Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean,” and beautiful Lori C, who was more woman at 17 than all 3 of my wives put together. But enough with this sappy crap.

In a “Thriller,” Marcos Maidana overcame knockdowns and all obstacles to force Victor Ortiz into submission. Now, after an embarrassing quit job and a non-fighter-like post-fight interview, Ortiz has to seriously take a look at the “Man in the Mirror” and decide if he really wants to continue fighting or if he just wants to “Beat It.

Smooth Criminal,” Oscar De la Hoya desperately tried to spin Ortiz’s quit job into something quite the opposite, but nobody is buying it. Overall, it hasn’t been a good time to be a Golden Boy prospect. Abner Mares split, Ortiz was just crushed and “King of Pop,” James Kirkland is eating bologna and mayonaise sandwiches behind bars.

Remember the Time” when PPV dates were reserved for only the elite fights, the best of the best? The Latin Fury show this Saturday was just, plain “Bad.” I would like to run into the chump who paid 35 bucks to see this suck-fest so I can sell him some bumper car tickets at Neverland Ranch. Wake me up when Juanma Lopez starts fighting someone with a pulse.

Arthur Abraham defended his title against some guy named Oral on Showtime Saturday. I’m sorry, but the only thing I’m watching with the name “Oral” on it is a PPV movie from The Spice Channel.

Everything else this Summer has been a big let-down. Cancelled or postponed fights, combined with weak matchups. Boxing is in a serious “Jam” and needs to fix things fast or, maybe next year, there won’t be anyone buying these shows for broadcast.

Well, seeing that its been a slow news Summer and that I’ve exhausted my Michael Jackson references, I think I’ll end this special edition of Madcow’s Standing 8 Count.

Besides, I’ve just called the escort service and told them to send their best; Doesn’t matter if they’re “Black or White,” I just “Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’.” Now, “Leave Me Alone.”

RIP Michael


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