Saturday, June 13, 2009

Watch Cotto VS Clottey, the battle of the champions

Watch Cotto VS Clottey, the battle of the champions. There is no fight that has been fought this year, or likely will be fought this year (and that includes any of the proposed Manny Pacquiao fights) that promises to be such a battle at the highest levels of skill, speed, and power as does the Miguel Cotto/Josh Clottey fight scheduled for this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden (HBO, 10:30 p.m. EST). It is a tradition of sorts for Cotto, a Puerto Rican, to fight at the Garden on the eve of New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade, an event that always creates a unique, New York-madhouse environment.

Cotto’s WBO welterweight belt is on the line against Clottey, and yet that is only the tip of the iceberg as far as what is at stake in this bout. You have a superstar in Cotto who stands to gain a potential superfight with Manny Pacquiao and all of the ridonkulous money that such a bout entails. And you have a long underrated hardass in Clottey who is looking to finally make a splash on the big stage after toiling for years in relative anonymity among the general public.

This is effectively a comeback fight for Cotto, his first legitimate test since his first and only loss, a brutal beating suffered at the hands of Antonio Margarito last July (who has since had his license revoked for having plaster-of-Paris in his wraps for a fight with Shane Mosley, leading many to feel his victory over Cotto is tainted). Since then, Cotto has fought only once, a bout with British champion Michael Jennings in February that he won easily in a fifth-round stoppage. He won the WBO belt that night, and yet on the whole Jennings looked as if he probably didn’t pose as stiff a challenge to Cotto as one of his lighter sparring sessions in the gym.

Josh Clottey will be no such soft touch. In the grand tradition of Ghanaian champions (Azumah Nelson and Ike Quartey, to name the most famous), Clottey is as tough as the nails that all the other nails think are tough. He shares a few notable aspects with Tony Margarito, Cotto’s only conqueror, in his predilection for relentless assaults to the body and his possession of a superhuman, cast-iron jaw. You do not step into the ring with Josh Clottey expecting to knock him out. If you do, you’re in for a very long night

One major difference between Margarito and Clottey is that Clottey has legit, A-level handspeed, and will be able to match Cotto in the boxing as well as the banging on Saturday night. These guys are so evenly matched across the board in terms of speed and pop that, as I recently pointed out at No Mas, I honestly can’t believe that the oddsmakers are favoring Cotto almost unanimously to the tune of 3-1. In my book, this is a pick-em fight. I see Cotto as having a definitive edge in defense, and Clottey with the advantage of being able to withstand more punishment. In terms of handspeed and power, I think it’s a push.

What it adds up to is something I am almost certain will be a very special fight. All the elements are in place, with two elite welterweights squaring off for a title belt and potentially lucrative future considerations. In Clottey, you have a rugged, talented, hungry fighter eyeing long-sought respect, Clubber Lang at 147. In Cotto, you have the once-supreme and untouchable matador coming back from a violent goring. Hemingway used to say that matadors either became better or much, much worse after their first taste of the bull’s horns – it all depends on the mettle of the man, and it’s something that no one, not even the matador himself, can know until his next trip to the ring.

And so it will be on Saturday night, as Cotto wades into the Garden fray to face one hell of an ornery bull. One, in fact, who bears a decided similarity to the bull who gored him last July.

Miguel Cotto vs. Joshua Clottey Tale-Of-The-Tape

Joshua Clottey
From: Brooklyn, NY via Ghana
Ht. 5’8”
Wt.: 147
Age: 32
Reach: 70”
Style: Puncher\Counterpuncher
Best Punch: Left Hook
Rounds Fought: 236

Marchetti Skill Ratings 1-10

*Power: 7 (* indicates x200%)
Size: 8
Speed: 8
Stamina: 10
Defense: 9 (*indicates x200%)
Chin: 10
Cuts\Injury: 6
Heart\Killer Instinct: 9
Legs: 6
Jab\Reach: 8
In-Fighting: 9
Punch Output: 8
Ring IQ: 8

Miguel Cotto
From: Puerto Rico
Ht. 5’8”
Wt.: 147
Age: 28
Reach: 67”
Style: Puncher\Boxer
Best Punch: Left Hook
Rounds Fought: 214

Marchetti Skill Ratings 1-10

*Power: 9 (* indicates x200%)
Size: 8
Speed: 8
Stamina: 8
Defense: 8 (*indicates x200%)
Chin: 6
Cuts\Injury: 6
Heart\Killer Instinct: 8
Legs: 8
Jab\Reach: 9
In-Fighting: 10
Punch Output: 7
Ring IQ: 8