Cotto-Mosley: Who is fast and who is Furious?

By George Kimball


Cotto-Mosley: Who is fast and who is Furious?

Sometime between last week’s conference call and his arrival in New York for the pre-fight press gathering at BB King’s, somebody evidently put a muzzle on Jack Mosley.

We’re assuming that it wasn’t promoter Bob Arum or his Golden Boy partner Oscar De La Hoya who said “Shut up, Jack!”  Unless we miss our guess, in fact, the message delivered was more like “Hey, cool it, Dad!”

Gentlemen that they are, we knew better than to expect any trash-talking from Miguel Cotto or Shane Mosley, so when the press assembled downstairs at BB’s our hopes were riding on Jack to produce the fireworks.

In the same blues club six weeks earlier, after all, Emanuel Steward had derided Kelly Pavlik in predicting an “easy fight” for Jermain Taylor. In moving up to face the world champion would be “like jumping from junior high school to college,” said Steward, who forecast a Taylor knockout.

This in turn promoted Arum to respond that “with all due respect to Tommy Hearns, Kelly Pavlik is the best puncher I’ve ever seen in the middleweight division – and unlike Tommy, he has a chin to go with it.”

On that occasion, Arum and Steward both predicted knockouts. And they were very nearly both right.

So after Poppa Jack went off the rails in his telephone hookup with the press last week, most of us were hoping for more of the same, if only to see what it might bring out in Arum, who has brought the Cotto Gravy Train back to Madison Square Garden for the fourth time in the past 30 months with Saturday night’s WBA welterweight title fight.

A few days earlier, in addressing many of the same people who were in attendance in Times Square Wednesday, Mosley’s father/trainer had dismissed Cotto in much the same terms Steward had used to describe Pavlik. Miguel, according to Mosley pere, was an overrated champion who would be unmasked by his son on Nov. 10.

"Certainly Cotto is not as fast as Shane, and Cotto certainly don't hit as hard as Shane. Cotto is worried sick about fighting Shane,”  said Jack. “You can look in his eyes and tell. He knows he's not as strong as Shane, he knows he's not as fast as Shane. Shane hits just as hard, if not harder."

Anyway, that was the Bad Jack. When the Good Jack showed up at BB’s Wednesday, the thrill was gone.

You’ve probably noticed that it’s invariably the non-combatants who talk all this smack, and not the guys who are actually going to hit each other. And for probably the same reason Shane told his father to put a sock in it, Mosley’s cornerman Cassius Greene, who had made a lot of noise when this fight was announced back in September, was pointedly excluded from the dais this time around.

(The affable Jack Mosley did reveal that Jimmy Glenn would also be working the challenger’s corner Saturday night, providing an embarrassment of riches for Team Mosley: Shane will have the services of one cut-man who talks and another cut-man who actually fixes cuts.)

In the absence of anyone willing to diss the opposition, the best you could get out of the two fighters was Mosley’s prediction of “fireworks” and Cotto’s assurance that he would be returning to Puerto Rico still in possession of his WBA championship belt.

Cotto brings a record of 30-0 to the Mecca of Boxing, while Mosley is 44-4. From the moment this fight was announced we’ve leaned toward Cotto on the basis that he was the younger fighter and performing at what was for him a more comfortable weight, and while the fact that we’re now having second thoughts has absolutely nothing to do with Jack Mosley’s undiplomatic provocation, we have to admit that he does have a point. Line then up beside each other and it is clear that Mosley is easily the bigger man. 

And no matter how many scenarios we come up with for this fight, we have yet to conjure up one in which Cotto knocks Mosley out. We can come up with several, on the other hand, in which the reverse might happen.

His resiliency has been Cotto’s forte. Think back to the times you saw him wobbled, by Chop-Chop Corley, by Ricardo Torres, even by Zab Judah. On those occasions he not only survived, but eventually stopped his tormentor. None of those guys was the finisher Mosley is. Somehow one suspects that Sugar Shane might not let him wriggle off the hook like that.

Cotto’s other asset has been speed, but not only is Mosley bigger, but even at 36, he’s also quicker than Cotto. Unless he’s slipped badly, it says here that if this one goes the distance, Mosley wins that way, too. (Hey, Jack Mosley revealed that Shane had been working on his “general ringship.”)

In the absence of controversy, you might wonder, was there any real news emanating from the news conference? That depends on how you categorize HBO exec Mark Taffett’s characterization of Cotto uncle/trainer Evangelista Cotto as “Miguel’s Dad.”

Let’s see: De La Hoya ticked off the list of Cotto-Mosley sponsors (which includes the Hollywood film “Beowulf”), and even ceded talking time to one of them, Carlos the Tecate Guy.

Co-promoters Arum and De La Hoya were joined at the head table by Golden Boy partner Bernard Hopkins. The Executioner made no mention of his proposed (by him) Yankee Stadium fight against Joe Calzaghe, but he did beat the 30-second over/under when he invoked the memory of his 2001 fight against Felix Trinidad fifteen seconds into his otherwise brief address.

“History,” Bernard said with a nod toward Cotto, “has a way of repeating itself.”

Although they didn’t occupy seats on the dais, several undercard performers were also introduced. Golden Johnson, who fights Antonio Margarito in the featured supporting bout, was accompanied to the stage by his trainer, Jesse James Leija. Jesse James took a look at the assembled gathering and said “I want to fight Hopkins and Cotto. They’re the only guys up here I haven’t fought already.”

Margarito (who Arum discovered is an American citizen in the course of a court case in Puerto Rico) conducted his brief address entirely in Spanish, as did Joel Casamayor, who will defend his WBC interim title against Jose Armando Santa Cruz.

Arum availed himself of the occasion to announce that since the supply of $100 seats for Saturday night’s fight had already been exhausted, the promoters and the Garden were putting on sale seats in the mezzanine section. (The Bobfather offered to let De La Hoya set the price of the ducats, and Oscar did: They are going for 50 bucks a pop, which by our calculations is just a nickel more than the pay-per-view price.

Arum said that if his guy wins and Oscar is willing, he’d like to match Cotto against De La Hoya next time out, with Margarito facing the Kermit Cintron-Paul Williams winner in the co-feature. If Mosley prevails, Arum wants to keep the Top Rank-Golden Boy alliance rolling along by matching Mosley and Margarito.

Benjy Estevez will be the Cotto-Mosley referee. While this will be Cotto’s fourth Garden main event, it will be Mosley’s first, although Sugar Shane did incur his first career loss in the adjacent MSG Theatre when he lost to Vernon Forrest back in 2002. But as his father pointed out, Mosley has fought in big fights in big arenas all around the country, and isn’t likely to be intimidated by a New York crowd which figures to be heavily pro-Cotto.

The pick here is Mosley in nine.


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