Miguel Cotto is back, or at least that's going to be the hype coming out of tonight's win over Delvin Rodriguez. Recalling the young Cotto of old, the Puerto Rican iceman with the ferocious body attack who made for a scary opponent, Cotto ripped through Rodriguez tonight in just over two rounds, scoring a TKO-3 victory and looking sharp and sensational in the process.
Cotto (38-4, 31 KO) had a pep in his step that hasn't been seen for a while now, and it appears that owes to the new professional relationship with trainer Freddie Roach. Roach, as someone said in the live thread, has his flaws like all trainers do. But when it comes to maximizing a fighter's offensive ability, Roach may have no peer. He said he wanted to see the old Miguel Cotto back, throwing vicious left hooks to the body and wearing out his opponents. He brought that monster back out of the 32-year-old veteran tonight in Orlando.
Rodriguez (28-7-3, 16 KO) is certainly no elite opponent or top contender, but he's always been a tough, solid fighter who could put up a fight in there. He landed some decent shots on Cotto, but again like the Cotto of old, we saw Miguel take those shots and walk through them. He was not deterred at all by return fire. His goal was clear, and written all over his face. This was a seek and destroy mission for Miguel Cotto tonight. Even if you can argue that Frank Santore's stoppage was a bit premature, the referee likely only sped up the process for the rapidly approaching inevitable.
When Rodriguez, 33, returned to his corner after round two, he looked dazed, confused, and a bit in shock. This was not the same Miguel Cotto we've seen train under Joe Santiago, Emanuel Steward, or Pedro Diaz. He used his jab plenty, but used it to set up nasty power shots, including the left hook to the rib cage that had been his trademark, and then got lost in the shuffle after parting ways with Evangelista Cotto, his uncle and former trainer.
Roach was impressed by the performance, and credited Cotto's work ethic. "From day one until now, he has just become so confident and so ready. He worked so hard. He put the hours in. I'm really happy to be here with him. We're gonna have a lot of big fights after this."
Max Kellerman asked if Roach thought Cotto was ready for the top fighters again, and Roach quickly replied, "Yeah. Line 'em up."
Cotto has no immediate plans that he made public tonight, other than to rest, spend some time with his family over the holiday season, and go from there. The Miguel Cotto we saw tonight is an attractive opponent for a lot of fighters. He's still worth money, and he looked great in the ring tonight, generating some buzz after two straight losses. And realistically, he's also still a 32-year-old, somewhat shopworn fighter.
HBO has wanted to make a fight between Cotto and middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, which is a fight that Martinez has said he wanted to make in the past. That would seem the safest big fight bet for Cotto's next move, but something else could always come up. Whatever it is, Cotto has our attention again.