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Miguel Cotto looks to win WBO title against Kamegai on Sat.

Miguel Cotto

By Dan Ambrose: Miguel Cotto will be looking to win the vacant WBO junior middleweight title this Saturday night against Yoshihiro Kamegai at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Unless Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) has lost his boxing skills in the 20 months he’s been out of the ring since his last fight, he should have an easy time defeating the 34-year-old Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs) this Saturday night on HBO Championship Boxing.

The start time for the Cotto vs. Kamegai fight is 9:45 p.m. ET/PT this Saturday, August 26 on HBO. The location of the Cotto-Kamegai fight is at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Unfortunately for the 36-year-old Cotto, Golden Boy Promotions picked a lousy date for him to fight Kamegai. On the same night, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be fighting Conor McGregor. That’s the fight the casual boxing fans want to see. The hardcore fans will likely flip the channels back and forth from the Mayweather-McGregor fight to the Cotto-Kamegai match. The real problem Cotto and Golden Boy have is Kamegai was a terrible choice for him to be fighting for the vacant WBO 154 lb. title. Picking Kamegai to fight doomed Cotto’s fight to be ignored by the boxing public.

Cotto hasn’t fought in a long time, so likely wanted no part in facing someone that could give him problems. Cotto needs to be happy HBO agreed to televise this fight, being that this is such a terrible match-up. Kamegai was beaten by Robert Guerero, Alfonso Gomez and Johan Perez not too within in the last 4 years. Kamegai was also held to a 10 round draw against Jesus Soto Karass in their first fight on April 15, 2016. Kamegai did come back to defeat Soto Karass by an 8th round knockout in their rematch on September 10 last year, but it was still a very hard fight for the Japanese fighter.

Cotto plans on retiring after December, as he feels wants to spent time with his family now in retirement. Cotto is down to his last 2 fights of his 16-year pro career. Like with any boxer retiring, you have to take a wait see approach to know if Cotto is serious staying retired. With all the money Cotto can make by staying on beyond 2017, it’s hard to believe he won’t come back. However, Cotto still has to defeat Kamegai on Saturday, and then whoever he’s matched again in December. Cotto could lose both fights.

Even if he gets past Kamegai, he figures to have a really tough fight on his hands in December if he fights the winner of the Gennady “GGG” Golovkin vs. Saul Canelo Alvarez fight. Cotto is expected to fight the winner of that fight. David Lemieux’s name has been mentioned as a possible opponent for Cotto in December, but it’s hard to believe Cotto would take that fight. It’s very dangerous for an older shorter fighter like Cotto.

If he’s going to take a dangerous fight, he needs to face the winner of the Golovkin vs. Canelo fight. That’s where the money is. Getting pulverized by either of those fighters is a heck of a lot better than getting smashed by Lemieux for less money.

Not only will the payday be smaller for Cotto in a fight against Lemieux, but he also won’t have a good excuse to use with the boxing media afterwards. Cotto can’t exactly say he was beaten by the best fighter in the 160lb division in Lemieux, because he’s not viewed as the best or even the second best fighter in the division. Lemieux might be little more than fourth or fifth best fighter at middleweight.

“I think that 16 years is enough, and I have other things to do in my life,” Cotto said via “You know, I’m taking care of my family better, and that is the biggest and only reason that I have to stop boxing and quit boxing and retire after Dec. 31st this year.”

Cotto might not get past Kamegai. This is still a very hard fight for the 5’7” Cotto. It would have been a hard fight for Cotto even in his prime, because he’s so small. Cotto will need to get in the trenches and slug with Kamegai for him to win this fight, and that means he’s going to take punishment. Kamegai can be out-boxed by smart fighters that use their jabs. Cotto has a good jab, but he rarely uses it for any length of time before he goes after his opponents in looking to knock them out.

Cotto has been in the ring with a high number of talented fighters during his career. In some cases his opponent shave been injured with bad legs in his fights with Sergio Martinez and Yuri Foreman. Cotto beat Antonio Margarito in rematch with him coming off of 3 eye surgeries. The fight was stopped because of Margarito’s eye swelling up on him. Unfortunately for Cotto, he never came through to win his toughest fights against guys that were uninjured and still in their prime. Cotto lost against the best fighters he went up against that weren’t faded or injured.

Here are the top guys that Cotto fought during his career:

Yuri Foreman – Injured with bad knee

Sergio Martinez – Injured with bad knee

Antonio Margarito – Cotto lost to him in the first fight, but then won a rematch when Margarito’s surgically repaired eye swelled up on him, causing the ringside doctor to stop the fight.

Manny Pacquiao

Shane Mosley

Zab Judah

Saul Canelo Alvarez

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Austin Trout

Ricardo Mayorga

Daniel Geale

Michael Jennings

Oktay Urkal

Carlos Quintana

Paulie Malignaggi

Ricardo Torres

Gianluca Branco

DeMarcus Corley

Randall Bailey

Lovemore Ndou

Victoriano Sosa

Cotto has faced a lot of good but not great fighters, but he’s lot to the best guys he’s faced that weren’t injured or over-the-hill. There’s nothing wrong with Cotto losing to the best. It just shows that he probably was at his best weight when he was at 140. Once Cotto moved up to 147 and 154, he wasn’t the same fighter. He was still good, but definitely not the guy he’d been when he was fighting in the light welterweight division.

“I enjoyed my whole career,” said Cotto. ”I believe that if anything from the beginning didn’t happen in my career, I wouldn’t have the career that I’ve had. I don’t want to point to any opponent, to any fight. I think that my whole career has been great for world boxing.”

Cotto has had things pretty easy in the last 3 years. He beat an old an injured Sergio Martinez to win the WBC middleweight title by a 10th round stoppage on June 7, 2014. Had that fight taken place 2 years earlier in 2012 before Martinez suffered a bad knee injury in his fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in September of that year, Cotto would likely have been with ease by Martinez. He was a great fighter when he had 2 good legs working for him. By the time Cotto fought Martinez, he wasn’t the same guy he’d been.

Cotto and his trainer Freddie Roach chose to fight Sergio Martinez for his WBC title instead of facing the perceived best fighter in the 160 lb. division in Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Cotto took criticism for the decision to steer around Golovkin and take the fight against the injured Sergio Martinez. It was difficult to give Cotto credit for beating Martinez, being that his injured right knee could barely keep him on his feet. It’s a surprise that Martinez took the fight with Cotto in the first place, in view of the fact that he was handicapped by his knee injury. Martinez would later retire from boxing without ever fighting again.

“I enjoyed everything. The victory against Mosley, the rematch against Margarito, but at the end of the road, I’m really proud of the kind of career that I’ve had,” said Cotto.

Cotto defended the WBC title once successfully in knocking out Daniel Geale in the 4th round in a catch-weight fight on June 6, 2015. Geale was none too happy about having to fight at a catch-weight for a title shot. It’s unclear what Geale had done for him to be picked out by Cotto for the title shot. Just 2 fights earlier, Geale has been knocked out in the 3rd round by IBO/WBA middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. That should have been enough for Geale not to have been considered as a worthy opponent for Cotto.

On the undercard of this Saturday’s Cotto vs. Kamegai card, WBC World super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas (29-0, 22 KOs) will be making his first defense of his title against #3 WBC Ronny Rios (28-1, 13 KOs). This fight hasn’t received much attention from the boxing fans, but it easily could be the best fight on the entire career. If Cotto obliterates Kamegai, who at best is a fringe contender, the more entertaining fight for the fans will be the Vargas vs. Rios fight. Vargas, 26, has a ton of talent and great boxing skills. He could become a star someday if he can keep winning and not get beaten anyone like Guillermo Rigondeaux.

Vargas recently easily beat Gavin McDonnell by a 12 round majority decision on February 25 to win the vacant WBC World 122 lb. title. It was a great performance by Vargas from start to finish. Boxing News 24 scored the fight for Vargas by a 10 rounds to 2 score. The scoring for the fight was quite bad by the 3 judges.

Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto

Miguel Cotto

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