Cotto faces tough challenge with Clottey at Garden
Miguel Cotto the WBO welterweight champion defends his title at Madison Square Garden Saturday evening against Joshua Clottey with the IBF title also up for grabs and there are those in the boxing community who give Clottey a chance to dethrone the champion.It is one of those intriguing fights that could go either way and much of the speculation is how Cotto has adjusted to his new trainer, Joe Santiago. The challenger Clottey is set to confront a pro Cotto crowd at the Garden that will be sold out and the question is, will he be able to take an onslaught of Cotto punches to the body?Cotto was very quiet and recently not offering much comment about his headlining a boxing card at the Garden for the fourth time in five years on the eve of New York’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade. He focused and trained hard with Santiago down in Tampa Florida.And until Wednesday, when the two fighters appeared at a final news conference at the Garden, Cotto had not said much There, were no Clottey appearances in the Bronx, where he now resides coming from his native Ghana while Cotto, the native of Caguas Puerto Rico, greeted the public twice in the past week at a Puerto Rican festival in the south Bronx and at a local AT&T store.I love the people here,” said Cotto about greeting the vastly popular Puerto Rican community in the Bronx. The fighter has become their ambassador in and out of the ring though in Puerto Rico they say former four-time champion Felix Trinidad still has the popularity.Clottey who is finally getting his opportunity, and a long awaited championship bout at the Garden, has also been quiet since their initial press conference a few months ago. The fight televised on HBO Sports is also not on pay-per-view. Cotto wants his fans to see him without paying the $50.00 going rate for boxing PPV bouts.And this, the words from promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, who promotes both Cotto and Clottey tells the story about Cotto and New York City. “Cotto has returned home,” he said with a gleaming smile. The truth is Cotto hopes to return home to Puerto Rico with two thirds of the welterweight championship.And Clottey, (35-2, 21KO’s) wants the public to finally know what he is about/and respects the opportunity that Cotto granted him. “Cotto is giving me an opportunity and I respect him for that,” said Clottey. “They make him the favorite. Favorites don’t judge the fights. That’s their opinion.”But Cotto is the favorite in just about every fight. Except this time Clottey is getting the accolades and a majority of boxing media are looking at Cotto heading to another defeat. Distractions prior to training camp, Cotto and an altercation with uncle and former longtime trainer Evangelista, and an ugly loss to Antonio Margarito that resulted in a WBA title loss may be the reason.Cotto has put that all on the past, won’t discuss the previous problems and as Santiago said, “All of my work will show in the ring Saturday night.” A different strategy or approach, perhaps going for a quick knockout could be what we see.In line for Cotto, assuming he wins could be a return bout with Margarito who is under suspension for using tainted hand wraps under his gloves when Margarito lost the WBA welterweight title to Shane Mosley last year. The speculation is that the same wraps were used when Margaritio defeated Cotto by TKO last July in Las Vegas.Or Cotto could at 140, challenge Manny Pacquiao, considered the best pound-for-pound fighter by the experts. Pacquiao will be attending the fight at ringside and a Cotto-Pacquiao fight can be a marketing bonanza for Arum who also promotes Pacquiao.To the controversy that has surrounded Cotto and for future fights he says, “I am at peace with myself.” He leaves his future options to Arum and part of his reason as to avoiding questions from the media also stemmed from rumors that he has been seeking a way to break his contract with Top Rank that runs through next year.On Margaritio, Cotto said “If we put everything together I will make a deal.” And he is open to a Pacquiao fight or any of the other top fighters in the welterweight division including Floyd Mayweather Jr. the former champion who recently came out of a brief retirement.“I can’t talk about something I don’t know,” says Cotto about the Margarito incident that left him battered in the ring after 11 rounds. “I respect him though,” he said. Though the talk was Cotto became very angry and aggravated that Arum, who also promotes Margarito, played two sides perhaps a reason why Cotto wanted out of his Top Rank commitment. .“I am not looking ahead, I never do. I never say no to anyone. I am here for the new fighters and the real fighters. The welterweight division is real and good for boxing. On Saturday we are going to leave everything in the ring and we are going to win.”Cotto has never lost a fight at the Garden since his debut there in 2005 and has sold more tickets than any other fighter at the Mecca of Boxing this millennium. And if were up to Cotto he would prefer all of his fights take place in New York at the famed Garden arena.But Clottey, even with all of his respect for Cotto has his own agenda. “Guys don’t want to fight me and I thank Miguel for giving me the chance,” he said. If I hit him then he has a lot of problem and if I hit him and he is still standing then I have problems,”Cotto (33-1, 27KO’s) is a three-time champion in two different divisions and Clottey had his biggest career victory, a 10-round technical decision over former three-time world champion Zab Judah August 2 of last year..In addition Clottey, an aggressive puncher with power is on a two-year five-bout winning streak. He also has wins over the late Diego Corrales the two division champion, undefeated contender Shamone Alvarez and two-time world title challenger Felix Flores.But all of that won’t matter when they touch gloves around 10:30 Saturday evening. The pick here is Clottey by TKO in round 11.