Last night, Miguel Angel Cotto (24-0-0 with 21KOs), although the current WBO 140-pound titlist, took the step from highly touted prospect, to full-fledged contender as he stopped the game, and iron-chinned Mohamad Abdulaev in nine rounds. This was the first fight in which the Puerto Rican national took on a true 140-pound fighter that was strong, and had very solid skills. In the first round, Abdulaev (138 Â¾ pounds) came out and tried to impose his will on the younger Cotto (138 Â¾ pounds). The Uzbek shot combinations and raked Miguel with a couple of short, stiff right hands, in an attempt to repeat his Olympic victory.
Although Mohamad did well, he quickly found out that the boy he had defeated in the 2000 Olympic Games was now a full-grown man. Both fighters held a high guard, so many of the punches in the early part of the fight were landing on gloves, arms, and elbows, but Cotto’s artillery just seemed a little heavier. Abdulaev showed great heart, and a very solid set of whiskers as he stalked Miguel, taking heavy shots for his trouble, while relentlessly pressing the action. Cotto’s ring generalship was a thing of beauty as he fluidly moved around the squared circle, constantly turning Mohamad, and keeping the Uzbek off balance. By the sixth round of the fight, Abdulaev really started to take some heavy leather to the head and body, as it seemed that Miguel had taken the level of the fight a step higher than Mohamad was capable of reaching. Still, the Uzbek pressed forward, kept the pressure on the young champion, and was hoping to land something that would sway the fight in his favor. That just never happened, so a dejected, broken, beaten Adulaev, with his right eye completely swollen shut, decided to pack it in and allow Cotto to gain revenge of their Olympic past.
It truly signaled the arrival of the newest beast in a division which is home to monsters like “Vicious” Vivian Harris, Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, Arturo “Thunder” Gatti, “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather, Kostya “The Thunder from Down Under” Tszyu, Junior “The Hitter” Witter. Also coming into the division are such terrors as Jose Luis “El Temible” Castillo and Diego “Chico” Corrales. Yes fight fans, Miguel Cotto is definitely a welcome addition to boxing’s deepest division.
Sergio Martinez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org