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Knockout Nation: Cotto Escapes Clottey, Mayweather-Marquez Postponed, Klitschko

Cotto Wins Controversial Decision

With a gushing, cut eye and a determined foe walking him down nearly every round, Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs) escaped Madison Square Garden Saturday night (June 13) with a disputed split decision win over Ghana’s Joshua Clottey (35-3, 20 KOs).

The Ghanaian asserted control in round one behind a stiff jab that repeatedly broke through Cotto’s guard. The Puerto Rican champion struggled to land any significant shots early, but hit bank as the round concluded with a short, counter jab that scored a balance knockdown on Clottey.

The challenger cursed himself for his mental mistake, knowing that the 10-8 round could possibly cost him a decision. In rounds two and three Clottey went to work, clipping Cotto constantly by doubling and occasionally tripling the left hook to the body and head. Cotto attempts to retaliate were unsuccessful, as he could not break Clottey’s guard even with short, flashy hook combinations. Further compounding Miguel’s problem was a hard accidental headbutt on the inside which opened a jagged, bleeding cut over his left eye.

By the 4th, Clottey was regularly utilizing the uppercut, the main punch that proved to be Cotto’s downfall in his sole loss to Antonio Margarito. As a confused Cotto continued to flurry at his challenger’s guard, Clottey would time him with chopping overhand rights on the bleeding eye. Another left uppercut from Clottey seemed to seal the round, but the Ghanaian allowed Cotto to flurry in the last 30 seconds which may have swung the card for judges swayed by the raucous Puerto Rican crowd.

Disaster nearly struck for Joshua Clottey in the fifth. After bloodying Cotto’s eye again and forcing him to retreat, Clottey was pushed hard to the canvas following an awkward corner tie-up. The challenger hit the canvas and immediately complained to the ref of knee damage. Aware that a retirement would result in a TKO loss, Clottey gingering walked off the injury but favored it the rest of the way. Despite this, the blood flow from Cotto’s eye prevented him from capitalizing, as this time Clottey flurried hard to close the stanza.

The six proved to a great comeback round for Cotto. Perhaps due to fatigue or the leg injury, Clottey surprisingly channeled Ali for his version of the rope a dope, and lay in the corner while Cotto unloaded an obscene amount of power shots to the head and body. Referee Arthur Mercante, Jr watched closely, since at times it appeared Clottey was being hurt by the punches. However, once Clottey’s face was visible it was apparent he was waiting for an opportunity to strike with counter shots. Once, he succeeded with a sneaky right that briefly stunned Cotto. However, the wounded champion had overwhelmingly outworked him with punch output to take the round.

Clottey took over again in rounds seven through nine, as Cotto’s bleeding eye made him a sitting duck for right hands. The champion’s attempts to run occasionally elicited scattered boos, but Cotto bravely kept throwing on the inside despite getting the worst of it. Clottey’s uppercuts and rights hands were visibly slowing down the cahmpion, and the crowd began to murmur nervously with Cotto in damage and demeanor reflecting the beaten warrior seen in the Margarito fight.

The tenth round was slow for both men, since Cotto took to running the majority of the round. Clottey’s bad leg prevented him from sustaining any prolonged pursuit, and Cotto effectively protected his eye with flickering punches before dancing away. Clottey’s attempt to steal the round in the last 30 seconds backfired when Cotto perfectly timed him with two counter left hooks. Clottey snickered at the shots, but the round was close enough to have gone either way on those last two punches.

The remaining championship rounds favored Cotto, who at least regularly threw punches while Clottey was content to follow him around. Although the majority of Cotto’s shots were being picked off, he controlled distance and prevented Clottey from enacting any type of significant offense to close the bout.

As expected, each man felt he did enough to win the decision after the final bell sounded. Still, their faces showed much concern with how the judges interpreted their performances. The final scorecards read 113-114, 115-112, and an absurd 116-111 for Cotto, who retained his WBO welterweight title.

“I just think I need to rest a little bit,” Cotto explained to HBO in his post-fight interview. “[After] nine weeks of training, I just want to rest a little bit. And then we can talk with the company [about who I should fight next].”

Clottey was disappointed in the verdict, and felt he was the victim of a hometown decision against a bigger, more viable star.

“I don’t expect this decision. I fought my heart out,” Clottey stated. “I’m chasing him, he’s running…So what does a guy have to do to win the fight? I won the fight. As soon as the decision went long [to score], I knew something was going to happen. I want a rematch.”

When questioned about his sudden low punch output in the later rounds, Clottey rationalized that he was being cautious of getting caught again for a flash knockdown.

“Cotto is a tough fighter, I have to take my time,” he stated. “He’s throwing one shot at a time, so I have to be careful when I’m coming in. So it’s not like I’m not throwing punches. Whatever he’s throwing to me I’m blocking.”

Although exciting, the fight was likely frustrating for fans of both men. In Cotto, we saw the same issues that have beleaguered him recent bouts such as bad defense when moving backwards (especially against uppercuts) and becoming somewhat shellshocked when faced with educated pressure. With Clottey, we again saw a lack of killer instinct down the stretch. A rematch is definitely warranted (I had Clottey winning), but likely won’t happen as their promoter Bob Arum is still fixated on pairing Cotto with Manny Pacquiao, in part to avoid having to work with Golden Boy for a Mayweather-Pacquiao megafight.

But with the damage Cotto took on Saturday, it’s unlikely he’ll be ready by October or November to face Pacquiao. And to his credit, Pacquiao has made it clear he wants Mayweather by the end of this year.

For Clottey, he’ll likely have to look at a fighter like Luis Collazo or Carlos Quintana to get his name back in the mix.

Mayweather-Marquez Off for July 18

The highly anticipated return of Floyd Mayweather Jr has been pushed back due to a rib injury the former champ sustained in training camp.

The unfortunate news was verified on Sunday (June 14) by Mayweather himself from his Las Vegas training headquarters.

“I am extremely disappointed that this fight has to be postponed,” Mayweather explained. “I was training very hard and looking forward to getting back in the ring on July 18th.”

Lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez was not happy with the news, but remained hopeful that his showdown with the six-time champion would come off soon.

“I was very disappointed to hear the news about the fight being postponed,” said Marquez in a statement from his Mexico training camp. “I will remain focused, in shape and ready to fight whenever the fight is rescheduled for.”

At press time, neither HBO nor the fighters could confirm a proposed reschedule date.

Hopefully, fans may win out and see this fight rescheduled for regular HBO instead of PPV.

Klitschko- Chagaev This Weekend

Due to challenger David Haye pulling out with a back injury, HBO has decided not to broadcast the heavyweight unification match between WBO and IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko, and WBA titleholder Ruslan Chagaev.

Many expect the new fight to be another mundane Klitschko title defense. However, David Haye will be in attendance in hopes of enticing either Vitali or Wladimir to face him.

Unfortunately, neither fight would come off this year if either Klitschko agrees. Wladimir is obligated to make a mandatory defense in September against Alexander Povetkin, while the WBC organization has scoffed at the notion of letting Vitali defend their belt against Haye.

With that said, David Haye represents the most lucrative fight for either brother in the 2009 heavyweight division. No other fight will give them much recognition outside of their native Germany, so I fully expect David Haye to eventually get his shot.

In the meantime, he’s made it known that he’s looking to get back in the ring by September. To further build his heavyweight credentials, he’ll need to seek out a “safe” name like a James Toney to build himself in the States. The press conferences alone would be classic.

Throwback Fight of the Week: Lennox Lewis vs. Andrew Golota (October 4, 1997)

In honor of Lennox Lewis’ recent induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame, we’ll take a look at one of the most dominant performances of his ring career.

In 1997, “Foul Pole” Andrew Golota was seen as the premier contender of the heavyweight division. He had effectively ended Riddick Bowe’s career as a top fighter 1996, courtesy of two prolonged, vicious beatings. But amazingly, Golota lost both fights simply because he could not stop landing low blows.

He would get a chance to prove his worth with a WBC title shot against Lennox Lewis. Many experts viewed this fight at 50-50 because of Lewis’ knockout loss in 1994 to Oliver McCall.

The fight itself was a massacre, as Golota froze in fear after tasting the power of Lewis’ right hand. Lewis easily blinded Golota with hard jabs before dropping him at the 2:00 mark with a combination of right and left hooks to the head.

Golota made it to his feet, but cowered in the corner before surrendering to the canvas after a series of right hands.

Lennox Lewis would go on to make 8 more defenses of the heavyweight title, and post wins over Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, and Vitali Klitschkko before retiring in 2003 with a record of 41-2-1, 32 KOs.

Andrew Golota continues to fight to this day, but has never been able to overcome the best fighters of his resume, losing to Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson, John Ruiz, Lamon Brewster, Michael Grant, and drawing with Chris Byrd. After losing a November 2008 fight against Ray Austin, Andrew Golota’s record is 41-7-1, 33 KOs.

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