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Cotto vs. Kamegai: Miguel expects good fight

Miguel Cotto

By Dan Ambrose: Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) will be looking to win another world title this month when he fights for the vacant WBO junior middleweight belt against Yoshihiro “El Maestrito” Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs) on August 26 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Cotto is expected to retire at the end of the year. We’ll have to see about that. With all the opportunities for big fights for Cotto, it’s difficult to picture him walking away from boxing at the end of 2017.

There hasn’t been a lot of attention from the boxing media placed on the Cotto-Kamegai fight, despite the fact that the fight is only 10 days away. It was Golden Boy Promotions’ bad fortune that Floyd Mayweather Jr. chose the same date to fight UFC champion Conor McGregor in their mega-fight on August 26 on Showtime PPV. It’s thought that the boxing fans will likely purchase the Mayweather-McGregor fight instead of tuning in to watch Cotto come off a 2-year layoff to beat a struggling fighter like Kamegai, who arguably doesn’t deserve to be ranked #6 by the World Boxing Organization.

Kamegai is ranked above unbeaten Erickson Lubin. That’s a real head-shaker. The WBO has Lubin ranked #10. Few people in the boxing world would rate Kamegai above a talent like Lubin, and yet that’s what the WBO has done with their odd rankings. Just going by Kamegai’s recent record, he probably doesn’t deserve to be ranked in the top 15 at all, period. In Kamegai’s last 6 fights, his record is 3-2-1. The losses have come against Alfonso Gomes and Robert Guerrero. Those guys aren’t exactly the murderer’s row.

There’s a chance that if Cotto defeats Kamegai, he’ll be facing former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux later this year on HBO pay-per-view. That’s a fight that a lot of boxing fans are buzzing about. However, there are many fans that believe that if Cotto does fight Lemieux, it’ll be at a catch-weight at 156 in order to gain an advantage over him. Lemieux is probably not going to be strong if he has to boil down to 156 to make weight to fight Cotto. If Lemieux isn’t weakened by making weight, Cotto would have a real problem on his hands in facing the hard hitting Canadian fighter. Personally, I can’ see Cotto winning unless Lemieux is weight drained significantly from the catch-weight. Like a lot of boxing fans, I’m hoping that Cotto doesn’t choose to fight Lemieux at a catch-weight.

We’ve already seen Cotto using catch-weights in his last 3 fights against Saul Canelo Alvarez, Sergio Martinez and Daniel Geale. It’s good that Cotto won’t be using a catch-weight for his match against Kamegai on August 26, but he’s not fighting a good opponent. We are talking about a fighter that was beaten by Roberto Guerrero and Alfonso Gomez. Kamegai is deeply flawed. If Cotto would need a catch-weight against Kamegai, then what’s the point in taking the fight? If Cotto can’t beat Kamegai, then it’s a sign that his career is pretty much over. I’d like to see Cotto finish out his career on a high without using handicaps to try and win fights by using catch-weights.

Cotto scouted out the 34-year-old Kamegai ahead of time and approved him as his opponent for the vacant WBO 154lb strap. Cotto didn’t reveal which other fighters he scouted to fight for the WBO belt. But it looks like Cotto picked wisely, because Kamegai is about to turn 35, and he’s lost 2 out of his last 6 fights. Cotto, 36, should be able to beat Kamegai unless the 2 years of inactivity has sapped the remaining talent from his game.

Coto vs. Kamegai will be televised on HBO World Championship Boxing.

”When we were looking through our options, he was one of the first names that popped up,” said Cotto about Kamegai. “Kamegai is the best opponent for me…He is a warrior in the ring. I don’t really worry about what or how my opponent trains.”

It’s too bad Cotto didn’t say which fighters he ruled out for his quest to win the vacant WBO 154lb title. Ideally, the WBO should be the one that selects which fighters are going to contest for their vacant titles instead of the fighters themselves. If Cotto was able to handpick his opponent for which to fight for the vacant WBO 154lb title, then how is it really an accomplishment when he winds up winning? For it to mean anything, Cotto should at least fight the best talent for the WBO belt. Lubin or Julian “J-Rock” Williams would be perfect. With that said, the 154lb division is incredibly weak right now with the top fighters like Jermall Charlo and Saul Canelo Alvarez moved up to 160 in search of much bigger paydays. Cotto is essentially fighting for a paper title at 154. Even if Cotto beats Kamegai, it’s not going to register in the boxing world. With the divisions watered down with multiple world titles, it only means something to win a world title when you’re facing a quality opponent with a big name. Kamegai, who was recently beaten by Guerrero and Alfonso Gomez, is not a quality fighter in my opinion.

“I have proved my whole career that I have been ready for anyone,” said Cotto. ”I have no doubt that I can match anyone. I am proud of the legacy I have built. I think one of the more satisfying fights I’ve been in was my victory against Antonio Margarito — I got my revenge against him then.”

Well, I disagree with Cotto that he can match anyone. He already lost to Canelo, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Austin Trout. Obviously, Cotto can’t match against anyone. He can fight anyone due to his popularity, but I don’t see him beating the talented fighters at 154 like Jermell Charlo, Erickson Lubin, Erislandy Lara or Jarrett Hurd. A fight between Cotto and Kell Brook would be a nice fight. I could see that as a 50-50 affair. If Brook’s eyes hold up, I think he would beat Cotto.

Cotto’s 9th round stoppage win over Antonio Margarito in their rematch in on December 3, 2011, was kind of a tainted win in my view. The fight was stopped by the advice of the ringside doctor after the 9th round due to Margarito’s surgically repaired right eye swelling up. Margarito was coming on at the time in taking the fight to a tiring Cotto in round 8 and 9. Previous to the fight, Margarito had been out of the ring for 1 year after he’d suffered a fractured orbital bone in his right eye in his 12 round unanimous decision loss to Manny Pacquiao on November 13, 2010. Margarito had 3 eye surgeries on his right eye before he fought Cotto. Margarito didn’t test his eye out by taking a tune-up fight before facing Cotto. Many people in the boxing world felt that Margarito’s right eye would be a problem that would lead to a stoppage against Cotto, and they turned out to be right. Cotto’s win over Margarito was really more related to his previous eye injury than anything that he did in the fight. The eye started swelling up immediately in round 1. I don’t know how Cotto can feel a sense of accomplishment in beating Margarito under those conditions.


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