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Knockout Nation: Cotto-Foreman Preview, Malignaggi at Welterweight? Vitali-Haye, Marciano vs. Holyfield Mythical Matchup!

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Cotto-Foreman for WBA 154 Title June 5

Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto (34-2, 27 KOs) will strive to prove to critics and fans that he is still a force when he faces junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman (28-0, 8 KOs) this Saturday (June 5) at Madison Square Garden.

The fight is intriguing as it serves as Cotto’s first appearance in the ring since taking a prolonged beating in a 12th round TKO loss to Manny Pacquiao last November. Also, it is the first time Miguel Cotto has ventured up to junior middleweight, seeking a title in his third weight class.

Yuri Foreman is coming off an easy 12 round unanimous decision over a faded Daniel Santos, which was on the undercard of Pacquiao-Cotto. The Jewish pugilist and studying rabbinic scholar was briefly considered as a backup opponent for Pacquiao in March once the Floyd Mayweather super fight fell through. However, Pacquiao’s camp nixed the idea due to Foreman’s difficult style.

That style is a methodical but highly effective mix of movement and quick 1-2 counters. With only 8 KOs in his 28 wins, Foreman lacks significant punching power but has decent speed, and has been able to stun opponents who attempt to crowd him. This can be seen below in his last outing with Santos, who suffering a flash knockdown while trying to press Foreman in desperation for a last round KO.

 

Despite his penchant for backpedaling with in trouble or gassed, Miguel Cotto prefers to stalk after opponents and breaking them down with hard hooks on the inside and from mid-range. Cotto mostly plods forward, and Foreman with his better footwork should look to constantly turn Miguel to prevent him from getting set with power punches. Inside battles should be kept to a minimum.

Based on their last fight, Foreman appears to have an edge in hand speed and reach (72 to 67 inches), which should serve him well in getting off first. If Foreman keeps this fight on the outside, it would highly difficult for Cotto to land any effective punches and secure a decision.

For Miguel Cotto to win, he’ll have to apply the same bruising, bullying pressure we saw in his vintage bouts against Carlos Quintana, Gianluco Branco, and Zab Judah. Cotto has an excellent jab, and that can serve well to disrupt Foreman’s countering attempts and force him to the ropes. There, Cotto’s shorter arms can become an asset in exchanges. In addition, Foreman is not known for his strength despite being naturally bigger. Cotto has weighed as much as 10-15 pounds more than the weigh-in on fight night, so it’s possible there won’t be much of a weight disparity between the two.

This will not be an easy fight for Cotto, and may turn out to be a disaster if he’s diminished greatly from the Pacquiao beating. He’ll be chasing Foreman all night, and expect Cotto to be briefly stunned several times with counters while rushing in.

But in the end, I expect Cotto to come away but a competitive, sometimes ugly, but clear unanimous decision. Miguel won’t have to be concerned too much with Foreman’s power, and the defending champion doesn’t possess the attributes that have proven to be Cotto’s kryptonite, which is pressure combined with speed or power as seen in the Pacquiao and Margarito bouts, and to lesser extents in the Mosley and Clottey fights. Also, I feel Miguel Cotto is inspired to honor the memory of recently deceased father with a memorable performance.

Miguel Cotto vs. Yuri Foreman begins at 10:15PM this Saturday (June 5) on HBO.

 

 

Malignaggi Moves to Welterweight

Following the worst loss of his career to Amir Khan 2 weeks ago, former 140 pound titlist Paulie Malignaggi has decided to test the waters 7 pounds up in the welterweight division.

The 29 year old Brooklynite is looking to start slow by competing overseas for fringe European titles before testing the waters against the elite of the division. The target country is Italy, where Malignaggi holds dual citizenship.

“Now that I need a fight for my comeback, why not do it in Italy? I know a lot of people want to see me fight in Italy,” Malignaggi told ESPN.com. “This would be a chance for people there to see me live. Maybe I can get the Italian welterweight title, make it interesting.”

Despite not being over 30, Malignaggi has taken poundings in most of his big fights. Aside from the May 15 TKO loss to Khan, where he was pummeled slowly over 11 rounds, Malignaggi has taken beatings from Miguel Cotto (UD12) and Ricky Hatton (TKO11). The latter fights both have had a lasting impact on Malignaggi’s career. Although he gained respect and many new fans for his courageous stand, he suffered permanent nerve damage to his face as a result of the Cotto clash. From the Hatton bout, Malignaggi has endured constant neck problems which he said were exacerbated in the Khan fight.  

Even with his body breaking down and his once sharp reflexes eroding, Malignaggi is confident he has enough in the tank for one last run.

“Financially, I don’t have to fight again. I’ve done well for myself. I don’t have to fight, but you wonder what will you do with yourself? I’m a fighter,” he explained. “That’s what I do. I am a fighter to the core. It’s something you miss if you stay away from it, so while I still have the option, let’s see what I can do. It might be fun to go the European route.”

 

I have a lot of respect for Paulie Malignaggi. Win or lose, every fight was going to be a tough battle since he has zero power. Essentially, at the elite level he had to fight a perfect fight every time out, as he had no hope of a come from behind victory. Even with these limitations, he was able to not only consistently get high-profile fights, but even secure a title.

The European run is smart. It keeps him active and slowly builds back confidence without compromising the already small amount of TV dates available. If he’s able to win the European strap (currently held by Matthew Hatton, brother of Ricky), it can lead to a final cash out payday against a welterweight Top 10 guy like Andre Berto, Luis Collazo, or maybe Timothy Bradley if he’s moved up by then.

 

Vitali Klitschko Calls Out David Haye After Win

Right after knocking out unheralded contender Albert Sosnowski last night, Vitali publicly called out rival David Haye for a heavyweight unification bout.

Last summer, Klitschko and Haye failed to come to terms for a proposed bout after Haye pulled out a fight against Wladimir Klitschko due to a back injury.

Since then, each side has alternated taking public swipes at each other.

Vitali renewed the hostilities, claiming Haye has done more talking than fighting throughout his career.

“I am very happy about my performance. I think everyone should applaud Albert [Sosnowski] because he did his best, but I was in great shape and I saw his mistakes and I took advantage of them,” Klitschko said. “I would like to fight either David Haye or the Russian Giant [Nickolai Valuev]. I would really like to fight Haye next because I want his title. All he does is talk trash about other fighters. I would really like to get him in the ring to shut his big mouth.”

Haye’s last outing was in April, when he TKO’d long-time contender and former champion John Ruiz to retain his WBA heavyweight title. Vitali Klitschko currently holds the WBC strap.

Albert Sosnowski was no match for the bigger and more skilled Klitschko, who punished him with hard hooks before getting the stoppage in round 10.

 

Boxing Online

Tonight at 9PM EST my friends over at The Boxing Truth Radio (www.theboxingtruth.com) will be blasting off their weekly show. Check them out for great boxing dialogue and opinions. You can also call in (562)219-3603. Special guest tonight is HBO’s Larry Merchant!

Live TV : Ustream

 

 

News and Notes

-          Zab Judah is teaming with Main Events to fight sometime in July at Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center. Judah’s last fight was a 2nd KO over journeyman Ubaldo Hernandez last November.

-          Tomasz Adamek (41-1, 27 KOs) will continue his heavyweight campaign against former heavyweight title challenger Michael Grant (46-3, 34 KOs) August 21 at the Newark Prudential Center. Standing at 6’7, Grant is being used as a litmus test for Adamek to gauge his chances against the Klitschko brothers. In April, Adamek beat Chris Arreola by decision in an entertaining bout.

-           Librado Andrade (29-3, 22 KOs) made a successful comeback on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights with an 8th round TKO over Eric Lucas (39-8-3). This fight was Andrade’s first since suffering his first TKO loss to Lucian Bute last November.

-          IBF and WBC junior welterweight champion Devon Alexander (20-0, 13 KOs) will face Andreas Kotelnik on August 7. Alexander had been attempting unsuccessfully to secure a unification fight with WBO champ Timothy Bradley.

-          Manny Pacquiao is recovering well after being hospitalized with a mild stomach ulcer. At press time, his promoter and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum is doing a preliminary talk with Floyd Mayweather for a November 13 fight.

-          Alexander Povetkin has requested Olympic style drug testing for a potential bout against Wladimir Klitschko. Wladimir’s camp has stated they are willing to agree to the stipulation.

-          If Miguel Cotto beats Yuri Foreman, Bob Arum will seek rematches with Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito.

 

 

 vs.

Throwback Fantasy Matchup of the Week: Evander Holyfield vs. Rocky Marciano

When you think of sheer determination and heart, not many fighters can rank above Rocky Marciano and Evander Holyfield. Numerous times throughout their careers, both men were labeled undersized for the weight class and made underdogs against larger and sometimes more skilled opponents. And yet, each man consistently defied the odds and carved out memorable Hall of Fame careers.

Rocky Marciano is no stranger to most boxing fans. As the only undefeated heavyweight champion in history (49-0, 43 KOs), the Brockton Blockbuster holds a distinction over other undefeated champs like Sven Ottke in having fought and beaten the best fighters of his era. Initially dismissed as a crude, clumsy, and defense-deficient contender on his way up, Marciano began turning heads when he knocked out promising contender Rex Layne in 6 rounds in 1951.

The performance led to a showdown with his boyhood idol Joe Louis later that year. Louis was far past his prime but still dangerous, having won his last 8 bouts. Marciano dominated the contest and scored a 8th round TKO that served to be the end of Louis’s career. From there, Marciano went on to win the heavyweight title in a classic come from behind KO against Jersey Joe Walcott, and made 6 defenses (5 by KO) before retiring on top in 1955 at the age of 32.

Evander Holyfield began his career as a cruiserweight, making his mark as possibly the best fighter ever at that weight with wins over Dwight Muhammad Qawi (2X) and Carlos De Leon. Bulking up, he moved to heavyweight in 1988 and scored impressive wins over lower tier names Michael Dokes, Alex Stewart, and Pinklon Thomas.

An early heavyweight showdown with Mike Tyson was not be, as Iron Mike was upset by Buster Douglas in 1990. Holyfield went on to defeat Douglas in just 3 rounds and made 3 successful defenses before being losing to an undefeated Riddick Bowe in 1992. He avenged that defeat in 1993, but lost the title right back in 1994 in an huge upset to southpaw Michael Moorer. The Real Deal’s career seemed to be at a close when he was knocked out in 8 rounds in the rubber match with Bowe in 1995.

But only a year later, Holyfield secured his signature win by outmuscling Mike Tyson to an 11th round TKO, and winning the rematch by DQ. He held the title until 1999, when he lost to Lennox Lewis.

For the past 10 years, he has continued to fight past prime to mixed results, but is still a top 20-25 fighter despite being 47 years old.

 

In a proposed matchup between them, two words come to mind: pain and bloodshed. By today’s standards Marciano was a small heavyweight, weighing no more than 189 in his prime and standing at 5’11 with a 67 inch reach. But pound for pound, Rocky was one of the hardest punchers in history. The majority if his opponents were never the same afterward, either retiring (Walcott, Louis) or posting losing records over their remaining bouts (Charles, LaStarza).

Marciano was great at cutting off the ring and forcing fighters into dangerous exchanges. With immense stamina, Rocky would routinely throw over 100 punches per round, with the majority being power shots. Most fighters were simply overwhelmed. Roland LaStarza for example, suffered busted blood clots in his arms for simply trying to cover up against the ropes.

While not a defensive marvel, Rocky Marciano was also better than given credit for. Many opponents stated afterward that he was not as easy to hit clean as he looked. Marciano fought out of a crouch, and Muhammad Ali noted this point after their stimulated computer fight, praising how well Marciano was able to slip his jab in spots.

 

With Holyfield, Marciano would have an opponent that wouldn’t be afraid to brawl in the trenches with him. Marciano, whose shorter arms were an huge asset in trench warfare, would seek to make the entire fight a prolonged brawl and prevent Holyfield from having any space to box. A good example of this would be the first fight with Ezzard Charles, who was the only man to go 15 rounds with Marciano. Charles did very well early, but could not continue to sustain Rocky’s pace and was definitively overworked in the crucial later rounds.

 

At 6’2 and over 210 pounds, the always in great shape Evander Holyfield has 2 skills necessary to beat Marciano; being able to equally brawl and box. For the Real Deal to win, these skills must be matched evenly. As seen in fights with Ray Mercer, George Foreman, and Riddick Bowe (rematch), Holyfield can box well off the back foot and with his jab. That will be essential to piling up points as Marciano wades in.

Too much movement will tire him out, so when Rocky does breach mid-range distance, Holyfield will have to fire off combos and hold as he did to Mike Tyson. Evander is one of the stronger heavyweight champs, so it’s likely he’ll be able to control Marciano in the clinches and of course land those rough, illegal head butts of his to open cuts or disrupt Rocky’s game plan.

 

This fight essentially comes down to how smart Evander Holyfield chooses to be. In the past, we’ve seen Holyfield’s strategy go out the window once he’s hit hard (Bowe I and III). If that happens with Marciano and he tries to wage a battle of machismo, Holyfield gets taken out by about the 8th round. But I believe Holyfield will respect Marciano’s ability as he did Tyson, and combine the best elements of that fight with his boxing ability as seen in the Bowe rematch. And Evander has taken shots from the division’s biggest punchers in George Foreman and Lennox Lewis, so it’s likely Holyfield’s chin will see him through the rough spots.

After 12 brutal and career shortening rounds, I see Evander Holyfield emerging victorious with a majority decision, with scores resembling 114-114 and 115-113 twice.

QuestionsView Results

 

Evander Holyfield Highlights

 

Rocky Marciano Highlights

 

 

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