Some called him “washed up,”others called him “damaged goods,” but in the Oct. 6th main event of HBO’s Boxing After Dark series Miguel Cotto (38-4, 31 knockouts) made sure that no one forgot his name. After a 2012 that saw him win-less, Cotto was paired against ESPN Friday Night Fights main-stay and all-action fan favorite, Delvin Rodriguez (28-7-3, 16 knockouts) in a fight that would make or break either fighters career. For Cotto, this fight would determine whether the years of damage have and father time have finally caught up to the future hall-of-famer. For Rodriguez, it’d prove once and for all whether he could really hang with one of the best the sport has to offer. That question was answered, but it didn’t come in the manner that many had expected.
From the opening bell, Cotto’s new-found aggression and speed were apparent. Back Rodriguez up against the ropes, Cotto began attacking the head and body of the Dominican native. With the heavy Puerto Rican presence chanting behind it, Cotto was seizing momentum from the get-go and unleashing it on an almost unsuspecting Delvin Rodriguez.
After the one-sided opening round, it was expected that Rodriguez now got a sense of just about everything Cotto had to offer. Even if that was the case, nothing stopped Cotto from starting the second round in the same exact manner. Once again forcing Rodriguez along the ropes, Cotto threw his now familiar combinations and they were already beginning to take a toll on Rodriguez. Cotto eventually began throwing a sneaky overhand right, and managed to find a home for it a couple of times. This led to Rodriguez attemtping to respond with his own, but all that led to was a brief, but wild exchange that always managed to work towards the Puerto Rican veteran’s favor.
Cotto closed the second round strong, and seemed to have hurt Rodriguez in the closing moments, but by fans have come to expect Rodriguez to dig himself out of early points deficits in fun and memorable manners. As soon as he stepped out for the start of the third round, the fight was almost instantly over. Like in the previous two rounds, Cotto immediatley swarmed Rodriguez and threw him against the ropes. Hoping that Rodriguez had begun to time his attack, Cotto faked a short hook to the body, and when Rodriguez acted on it, followed it up with a booming left hook that badly wobbled Rodriguez. With Rodriguez hurt, Cotto unleashed a volley of punches with the intentions of putting an end to both his opponent and all of the premature speculation that he was finished. Eighteen seconds into the round the referee had seen enough and called an end to the fight.
This fight did much more than show the difference between a good and once great fighter; it showed and reminded everyone that a fighter like Cotto can’t be judged off of the worth of a few losses. He still possesses all the tools to make one more run for a title, or at the very least be a very competitive fight for anyone standing in his way. It’s still too early to tell if Freddie Roach really can bring Cotto back to the fighter he once was, but this outcome certainly did help his case.
As for Rodriguez, there’s no telling where he goes from here. Maybe he’ll get another shot with HBO, or maybe he’ll be forever doomed to fight lesser competition on ESPN 2. Regardless of where he ends up or who he loses to, Rodriguez has proven that he’s willing to put on a memorable show no matter what the cost and one can’t help but respect that. Both men certainly made this a memorable night of fights, and both should have a bright future ahead of them.