Miguel Cotto: Mental Monster

By Michael Gonzales


Miguel Cotto: Mental Monster

This past weekend Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto put his WBA welterweight strap on the line against Brooklyn’s Zab “Super” Judah inside a sold out Madison Square Garden.  Popular opinion was that Judah would slowly erode from a guy that can take four straight rounds from pound for pound kingpin Floyd Mayweather Jr. to someone who drops a decision to Carlos Baldomir.  Cotto would have to weather the slick, speedy southpaw’s early bombs then savagely breakdown Judah with constant pressure peppered with his trademark big body shots if he were to win.  And it held true as Judah, with a few exceptions, decided to not throw his hands nearly enough in the later rounds (or was convinced by Cotto.)  Not pimpin’ as Judah was very effective in spots where he did, even had Cotto holding on at times. 

Instead Cotto absorbed some of Judah’s best stuff in the early rounds while not giving an inch, diligently working toward an eleventh round stoppage in what he stated was the toughest fight of his career.  Though it must be noted that Judah was hit with two low blows early, one in the first round and one in the second, when he is most dangerous.  Those shots eventually cost Cotto a point (good trade.)  Whether they were intentional or not is up for debate. What is not is if they affected Judah, who lost composure and convulsed on the canvas for both, as a soccer player trying to draw a foul would. 

Cotto was challenged by a much slicker, faster physical phenom in Judah.  What separated them was what Cotto recently stated in an interview as his strength – mental toughness.  The same mental toughness that kept him composed and around to eventually get Ricardo Torres out after being badly hurt on more than one occasion.  In Cotto you have a murderer comparable to the classic horror monster “blob” who seems deliberate and easy to wobble, but expect relentless pressure and severe damage if backed into a corner. 

Next for Cotto is WBO champ Antonio Margarito, if Margarito can first beat his mandatory Paul Williams.  This will be tough test against a strong, durable and also mentally tough established champion.


So does that make Judah a Rolls-Royce frame with a Volkswagen brain?  Were the flashes of brilliance he has displayed just that – flashes?  Will he ever be able to draw upon his “Super” human abilities for an entire fight against top shelf competition, as he did knocking out Cory Spinks?

I have a feeling most of the boxing community will continue to follow his career just incase he does, as boxing fans are big romantics.  We feverishly follow a sport that the mainstream has left for dead. We will most certainly continue to follow Judah’s career.  Some of us fell for Judah because of his NY amateur pedigree, the comparisons and sparring sessions with Pernell Whitaker.  Appearances in music videos with hip hop’s biggest stars and a diamond incrusted smile, and most important - amazing physical ability.

Does Judah go back to the drawing board? Or does he now become a gatekeeper? 

Judging from this spirited showing against such a solid opponent where it was almost unanimous among boxing folks that he gave Cotto hell when he put his punches together, I think Judah will gather himself and continue competing with the top guys in his division.  He does, however, continue to demonstrate defeatism as soon as the tide turns against him.  What in my opinion will serve him well would be to swap out his trainer/father, Yoel Judah, with a new trainer.  Maybe changing up his training camps and hearing a fresh voice in the corner will keep him energized and focused for the whole round and fight?  I also believe Judah suffers from child prodigy syndrome (I made that up) where he was coddled by everyone around him since his youth because of his talent and stopped maturing at that point because he never faced adversity.  Therefore he has little or no experience working hard for something or making adjustments – the problems he faces in the ring.  Or it could also be, as I once heard Larry Merchant proclaim, “Sometimes an athlete doesn’t know when their not trying.”


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