In a seriously relieving piece of news for hardcore boxing fans, the June 5 fight at Yankee Stadium between 154-pound titlist Yuri Foreman and former 140- and 147-pound beltholder Miguel Cotto has been picked up by HBO, and will not be shown on pay-per-view, according to BoxingScene.com.
Mostly, Foreman-Cotto is a fight I genuinely like (as an idea, anyway; as a fight, I think it runs a high risk of stinking something fierce). Cotto's going to be a seriously tiny junior middleweight, but he's a better all-around fighter than Foreman, who has in the past shown a real dislike of getting hit. Lucky for him, he hasn't been hit much in his career, but for Cotto this is something of a shot at redemption, and I expect the Puerto Rico to come out with guns blazing, targeting the taller, bigger Foreman's ribcage and getting back to what made him Miguel Cotto in the first place.
But as a pay-per-view main event, this was a mediocre fight at best. Foreman isn't exciting and most of his name value is built around his story (he's training to become a rabbi, if you've never heard), and it's a story mostly known to major boxing fans and Jews. He's gotten some solid mainstream press coverage because of his unique life outside the ring, but as good as those stories are for his career, I don't think they've ramped up interest in his career that much, certainly not so much that a $40-50 PPV was going to sell like hotcakes or anything.
They both last fought on November 14. Cotto, of course, was beaten by Manny Pacquiao that night, while on the undercard, Foreman dominated another Puerto Rican, Daniel Santos, to win the WBA junior middleweight title. It was something of a coming-out performance for Foreman. Even though Santos was clearly past his prime and out of shape for the fight, Foreman took it to him and left no doubt who the better fighter was that night.
Cotto has lost just twice in his career, to Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito, the latter disputed today by many because of Margarito's hand-wrapping controversy last year. After he lost to Margarito, Cotto took an easy comeback fight against Brit welterweight Michael Jennings and thoroughly dominated him, then jumped back into the fire with Joshua Clottey, followed by Pacquiao.
But this time, he's going right back into a very stern challenge. Foreman isn't destined to become boxing royalty, but he's in his prime and again, he is much bigger than Cotto, who was pretty small at welterweight all things considered. Height-wise he's about on par with Manny Pacquiao, and there are other guys in that same range. Not all welters are 5'9" like Shane Mosley or 5'10" like Oscar de la Hoya was. But Cotto doesn't have the big frame that a Clottey or Andre Berto has, either. He's lean in his upper body. Against Pacquiao, he looked absolutely no bigger than his opponent.
Foreman is 5'11" and carries 154 well. It's a real risk for Cotto. If he loses -- which is very possible -- he's at a major career crossroads. He's already talked retirement, and I think if he loses to Yuri, it'll at least be a long while before we see him fight again. But let's get back to the real topic at hand for right now.
The fact that we'll get to see this on normal HBO World Championship Boxing is a blessing. Boxing promoters are already asking a lot of fans. After a great 2009 where the only major PPV offerings were for the three biggest fights of the year (Hatton-Pacquiao, Mayweather-Marquez, Cotto-Pacquiao), boxing is teetering on getting back into the habit of sticking too many fights behind the BUY button on your remote. There's already a PPV on Saturday, then one on April 3 (Hopkins-Jones II), and May 1 (Mosley-Mayweather).
Another show on June 5 not only risked being overkill, but because it was at best the third most interesting PPV fight being offered in a fairly short period of time, suffering from a lack of interest from fans whose wallets were starting to feel drained.
An official announcement of the fight will be made on March 22 in Tampa, where the New York Yankees hold spring training.