On a normal Saturday in June, Yankee Stadium is home to one of the best offensive teams in baseball. However, last Saturday, the fairly new ballpark may have boasted more hitting than all the Yankees' games thus far.
Miguel Cotto (35-2, 28 KOs) squared off against Yuri Foreman (28-1, 8 KOs) in the first fight at the new Yankee Stadium, the first at a Yankees park in 34 years.
Entering this fight, many believed Cottoâs best days were behind him and Foremanâs awkward style would win out (this writer included). Instead, Cotto looked like the fighter of old — the fighter that used to chop down his opponents with a vicious body attack, cut off the ring and suffocate his victim with punishment. Foreman did what he usually does — dance, change direction and get off in quick bursts — but he just didnât have enough to keep the power-punching Puerto Rican off him.
Cotto had control from the opening bell. He cut the ring and he was scoring regularly with his jab, and he was successful landing hard-thudding shots throughout the night.
Foreman slipped in the seventh round and got up hobbling. According to The Associated Press, he tore his meniscus and stretched ligaments in his right knee.
His corner decided to continue with the fight into the eighth round only to suddenly have a change of heart partway through, throwing in the towel. In a strange twist, referee Arthur Mercante Jr. decided that the towel was unjustified and the fighters could continue. So after ushering the crowd out of the ring, the fight went on.
It was a strange move — but not as surprising as when referee Frank Santore Jr. counted Kermit Cintron out against Sergio Martinez and waved off the fight. Then he had a change of heart and called the fight back on after saying it was over. At least Mercante didnât change his mind at any point.
It was a foregone conclusion in the end. Cotto crumbled Foreman with his signature left hook 42 seconds into the ninth round. At that time, Mercante decided it was a good time to wave off the action, awarding Cotto with his third title in as many divisions.
With that thunderous left hook to the body, Cotto changed the landscape of a division.
If Cotto decides to stay at junior middleweight and defend his title, then that left hook officially made the division one of the hottest in boxing. Paul Williams (39-1, 27 KOs), Kermit Cintron (32-3, 28 KOs), Alfredo Angulo (18-1, 15 KOs) and Antonio Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) are just a few of the names that fight in the division regularly. Sergio Martinez (45-2, 24 KOs), who just took the middleweight crown from Kelly Pavlik, fought at 154 most of his career. Iâm sure he would have no problem coming back down for the right money.
Letâs not forget the guys that are seven pounds south that could easily make the jump to junior middleweight. Shane Mosley (46-6, 39 KOs) campaigned in the division for a bit. A move up — and perhaps a rematch with the new champion — shouldnât be scoffed at. Lou DiBella mentioned via Twitter that he would be interested in matching WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto (26-0, 20 KOs) against Cotto at the junior middleweight limit.
Letâs not forget about James Kirkland (25-0, 22 KOs), who looks to be getting out of jail in October. He may have some built-up aggression he needs to take out on some poor soul in the ring.
And last but not least, we all know Manny Pacquiao (51-3, 38 KOs) is going to go for his eighth title in his eighth division at some point, so why not a rematch? Bob Arum was interested in matching the Philippine wonder against Foreman, which would not have been an exciting affair. A second fight against the new WBA champion would be welcomed with open arms.
Overall, Saturday night was a big hit, pun intended. HBO got its best ratings of the year. Yankee Stadium got another event to mention in the record books. Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman guaranteed their names will be mentioned in at least one Hall of Fame (the Baseball Hall of Fame requested memorabilia from both fighters). And boxing fans were able to see a pretty good scrap.
So while the Yankees were losing a close game to the Toronto Blue Jays this past weekend, their home stadium — and a heavy-hitting fan favorite named Miguel Cotto — were hitting an inside-the-park home run for boxing (sorry for laying it on a little thick — I couldnât resist).
To hear Bryan Brennan talk more about Miguel Cottoâs big win and the outlook for the 154-pound division, tune into The Mouthpiece Boxing Show on 1510 AM on Saturday, June 12 from 9-10 p.m. Theyâll also talk heavyweights, the venue battle for Pacquiao-Mayweather and some local boxing action. E-mail him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.