By Scott Christ
Miguel Cotto returns to action on Saturday night’s HBO card.
Record: 40-5 (33 KO) … Streak: L1 … Last 5: 3-2 … Last 10: 6-4 … Stance: Orthodox … Height/Reach: 5’7″ / 67″ … Age: 36
Thoughts: One of the top fighters and draws of his era, Miguel Cotto has been out of the ring for nearly two years following a loss to Canelo Alvarez, a loss he and a vocal minority have fiercely debated since that November night in 2015. Now, he returns in semi-obscurity on a night where an HBO main event will barely make a dent on the media landscape at large, as Mayweather-McGregor overshadows everything.
Maybe it’s for the best. Cotto-Kamegai is a pure “comeback fight,” carefully chosen for the reason of getting Cotto back and active as he winds down a decorated career that has seen him win titles at 140, 147, 154, and, officially, 160. He’s a surefire Hall of Famer.
Before losing to Alvarez, Cotto had won three straight from 2013-15, beating Delvin Rodriguez, a hobbled Sergio Martinez, and Daniel Geale, all by stoppage. Those wins followed back-to-back losses to Floyd Mayweather and Austin Trout in 2012.
Cotto is nearing his 37th birthday, and no doubt is not near the fighter he was at his peak. In fact, I’d say he hasn’t been that for a long time, and would even argue he never really fully recovered from his 2008 loss to Antonio Margarito, which he avenged in 2011 when Margarito had one working eye. Even a quality win in 2009 over Joshua Clottey didn’t show Cotto at his destructive best. And even if he had gotten over the Margarito loss, his 2009 thrashing at the hands of Manny Pacquiao may have done him in for good, at least in some respects.
He’s still quite a good fighter, though, and was the last time we saw him, competing well with Alvarez, though I thought Canelo did, indeed, deserve the win. Unless Cotto is completely gone now, which seems unlikely, he should win this fight going away. He’s been beating guys like Kamegai forever.
Record: 27-3-2 (24 KO) … Streak: W1 … Last 5: 3-1-1 … Last 10: 6-3-1 … Stance: Orthodox … Height/Reach: 5’9″ / 71″ … Age: 34
Thoughts: Kamegai is a scrapper, you’ll get no argument on that. A tough, tough man, one we’ve seen take some major beatings and fight through it all.
He is also, to put it delicately, painfully average. He has a great KO percentage, but most of his victims have been mediocre fighters, at best. His best win came last September, when he defeated a shopworn Jesus Soto Karass, stopping him after eight rounds. They’d gone to a draw five months prior. Good fights, yes, but not world level fights.
Who else has he been in against? Robert Guerrero in 2014, when he fought valiantly and lost, and Alfonso Gomez in 2015, losing a wide decision. In all candor, I thought the Gomez fight was a reality check after the inspiring performance against Guerrero. But Kamegai has hung around, and he has been expertly selected as chum for Miguel Cotto’s return this Saturday night.
Matchup Grade: D+. The best thing this fight has going for it might be StubHub Magic. We’ve seen some wild wars at that venue in recent years, and maybe something will be in the air. On paper, though, this is a skill mismatch, plain and simple. Cotto is two levels above Kamegai, even if he’s rusty, unless he’s totally shot.
- Rey Vargas vs Ronny Rios: The better of the two fights on paper, and possibly the best matchup across the major cards on Saturday night. Vargas (29-0, 22 KO) is defending the WBC super bantamweight title, a vacant belt he won on the road in England last July against Gavin McDonnell. Rios (28-1, 13 KO) suffered a horrible loss to Robinson Castellanos back in 2014 — not bad as in Castellanos can’t fight, he can, but Rios looked lost in that fight, pitiful even. He’s come back to win five in a row, though, and put himself back into mix, moving down from 126 to 122 along the way. Look, it’s not great, but it’s solid. Matchup Grade: B-
Source:: Bad Left Hook