Usually when I get up the next day after a fight and read Scott's wrap-up, I agree with him in tone and fact. He beats me to saying what I would have said. But last night was different. Unlike Scott, who stressed what he saw as Cotto's dominance in the match, I saw this as a close fight that could have gone either way (I'll explain what I mean in a sec). Moreover, I thought this was the most exciting, aggressive, and satisfying fight that I have seen in a really long time.
Barrera vs. Marquez was closer on the cards, but this fight had more tension and more exhilarating moments than that outstanding fight. De La Hoya vs. Mayweather was more hyped (obviously) and drew in more casual fans. And while I felt it was an overall solid fight in which Oscar, who certainly lost, nevertheless did himself right and came out looking good, this fight was light years better. It had almost everything: some serious back and forth action, the unfolding of two very different and interestingly matched strategies, blood and guts, a display of heart from both men that impressed even the ever-stoic Manny Stewart, and the victory I wanted. As Scott noted, Cotto is now a legitimate superstar, and while I doubt the opinion of some random guy posting at a blog matters much, he is now clearly my favorite boxer in the sport.
Judah rocked Cotto several times throughout the fight, rocked him pretty hard, stunning him twice and forcing him back. And while I agree with Scott that Cotto's relentless pressure ground Judah down, I felt that up until the very last minute or so, he was always in the match and had the capability to take Cotto out. I never had the chance to relax, knowing that Cotto was going to win. Judah seemed to be biding his time, watching for that opening that would allow him to swarm Cotto. Judah was fighting for the knockout. Hell, both men were fighting for the knockout, and you just knew after a round or two that this one wasn't going to go the distance. I was surprised it lasted as long as it did.
In a way it was like the Malignaggi fight. I really disliked both Malignaggi and Judah as men and as boxers coming in to this match. But when it was over, I saw them in a new light. I still don't like Zab Judah, but I respect him now. And I want to see the rematch. I want to see Cotto fight as often as I can until he hangs up the gloves. This guy is the real deal--a boxer who is not only talented and devastating, but who consistently transforms the matches he's in into the kind of spectacle that make me love this sport.
There were several people in the room with me who weren't really boxing fans and were really there for the party. But everyone in the room was glued to the screen, and everyone who walked out of the room was a fan who would come back for more.