The Shakedown from Last Night

Last night, while not an ideal night of boxing, offered a lot of excitement for boxings fans. It was one of those nights when you realized that yes, it is essential to have both Showtime and HBO, and yes, Showtime continues to improve its line up of fights. Scott already gave you a good rundown in the post below. I mostly agree with his assessment, but I want to add a few thoughts.

First, Cotto vs. Urkal was indeed bizarre, but I feel less charitably toward Urkal and his camp than Scott seems to. Wily? Sure, but also a real asshole in the ring. The headbutts were repeated and deliberate. I've seen boxers disqualified for less. And his manager's whining complaints afterwards really rubbed me the wrong way. Illegal body shots from Cotto? Please. After watching someone like Sam Peter get away with what he does, Cotto seems like a paragon of accuracy and sportsmanship. Plus, you don't watch your boxer ram his head into someone over and over (at one point even forcing Cotto into a southpaw stance) and then complain like that about phantom illegal blows. If I never see that guy again, it won't be too soon.

Cotto, to his credit, handled it gracefully, with no complaining and a gesture of comradeship at the bout's end. Cotto's stock continues to rise. He is already a Pacquiao-like deity in Puerto Rico and from what I've seen, his reputation around the various boxing forums has risen considerably this year.

He's sort of the anti-Mayweather. A brutal boxer without lip who fights the toughest opponents possible and works hard to knock 'em out. His biggest strength--his terrific power, especially with body blows--is in some ways the opposite of Floyd's--whose greatest strength is his elusiveness and who scores more points with jabs to the head. Likewise, Cotto's weakeness--his occasional lapses in defense and sometime penchant for taking unnecessary punishment--are not Mayweather's, whose "great weakness," as seen so far, is probably his personality.

It's no surprise that Cotto is rapidly developing a massive fan base (including recent coverts such as yours truly); nor is it a shock that Mayweather wasn't exactly showered with love during his recent, much-hyped press tour with Oscar.

Marquez vs. Vasquez was, as Scott suggests, shaping up to be the "fight of the year" candidate that it was supposed to be, and I was profoundly disappointed by the outcome. I had this feeling in my gut that Vasquez was going to dig deep and find his man again sometime later in that fight. And with Vasquez, that often means game over. It may be a bit premature to call this the next great rivalry in boxing, but on the other hand, I wouldn't bet against the proposition either.

Miranda is a brute force, but he has a lot to learn before he should take his first big money fight. The elite in his weight class will likely beat him with his current skill set, though with that kind of strength, Miranda, like Vasquez, will always have a chance.

I expect Klitschko to soundly beat Ray Austin, so the next really outstanding fight on the horizon is Marco Antonio Barrera (63-4) v. Juan Manuel Marquez (46-3-1). That doesn't mean I won't be watching and talking about the fights in the meanwhile, but this is the next battle that gets my blood pumping.

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