Cotto: Kirkland is the best and most dangerous fighter
By Dan Ambrose: Miguel Cotto’s fight against James Kirkland (32-2, 28 KOs) on February 25th next month is perceived by the boxing public as a dreadful mismatch, and not worthy of being televised on HBO PPV. Cotto, 36, doesn’t agree, because he’s saying that Kirkland is the best fighter.
Kirkland hasn’t shown himself to be the best though. He’s not ranked in the top 15 at 154, and he’s coming off of a 3rd round knockout win over Saul Canelo Alvarez from 2015. Kirkland opted not to fight in 2016, which isn’t surprising because he didn’t fight in 2014 either. Kirkland is one of those fighters who rarely sees action.
The boxing public would rather have seen Cotto fight someone a little more active and a lot more talented than Kirkland, especially given that the fight is being televised on HBO PPV. The fans wouldn’t have had any problems if Cotto and his promoters at Roc Nation Sports had announced that he’ll be fighting Jermall Charlo, Gennady Golovkin, Demetrius Andrade or Erislandy Lara on HBO PPV.
Charlo would be the optimal choice, because there would be a very high chance of Cotto being knocked out by him. When you have the boxing public believing that a popular fighter has a chance of losing, they usually respond by purchasing that fight in high numbers on PPV. When the fans see a mismatch on paper, they stay away and save their money. Cotto-Kirkland is perceived as a mismatch. That very likely means low PPV totals.
Cotto said this to fightnews.com about his believe that the 32-year-old Kirkland is the best fighter:
“James is a tough fighter, he is the best and most dangerous fighter, he’s going to go to work with victory on his mind. It has been typical in my career that we look to fight the best. I have always fought the best and that’s what I want the people to know 20-30 years from now,” Cotto said.
Cotto can say he always fights the best, but the reality is much different. Cotto has fought a lot of easy opponents in the last eight years of his career. Let’s look at the easy fights that Cotto has had:
– Sergio Martinez – He had a bad knee when Cotto fought him. This was an easy fight.
– Yuri Foreman – Another mismatch involving Cotto fighting someone with a bad knee. Cotto chose to fight Martinez for his WBC middleweight title rather than taking on Gennady Golovkin for his WBA strap. Golovkin had already established that he was the best fighter in the 160 pound division at the time, and he was seen as THE BEST. Did Cotto fight him? No. Why didn’t Cotto fight Golovkin if he always fights the best? Only Cotto knows the answer to that question.
– Ricardo Mayorga – He was over-the-hill and his 40s at the time Cotto fought hi in 2011.
– Antonio Margarito – When Cotto fought Margarito in their rematch in 2011, he was far from “the best” in the junior middleweight division. Margarito was coming off of three eye surgeries and a year-long layoff when Cotto chose to fight him again. This was not a fight involving the best for Cotto
– Daniel Geale – He was just a contender, and not the best.
– Delvin Rodriguez – This was a fringe level contender that Cotto fought in 2013. I would hardly call Rodriguez one of the best.
– Saul Canelo Alvarez – This was a good choice. You can call this guy one of the best.
– Austin Trout – This was another good choice. Cotto fought him and lost in 2012.
– Floyd Mayweather Jr. – Cotto lost to Mayweather in 2012. This was a fight where Cotto actually fought the best.
– Joshua Clottey – This turned out to be a really tough fight for Cotto. I wouldn’t call Clottey the best though.
– Michael Jennings – This was a mismatch. Jennings was a domestic level fighter from the UK.
– Manny Pacquiao – You can definitely call this a fight where Cotto fought the best and lost badly.
So out of Cotto’s last 12 fights, he only fought the best in 4 of those fights. The other 8 opponents that Cotto fought were not the best. They weren’t the worst, but they definitely weren’t the best.