Now that a couple of days separate us from what might be called Austin Trout’s upset victory over Miguel Cotto (most experts, including all of ours, picked Cotto to win), calls have begun appearing on boxing forums for Miguel Cotto to hang up the gloves. While there is certainly a strong case that Cotto’s best days are behind him, does that really translate into an urgent necessity for him to exit stage left? The answer to that question is “no,” as any objective look at the facts would tell you.
The Case for Cotto’s Retirement
The fan case for Cotto’s retirement is a simple one, that “Junito” doesn’t win big fights anymore, and that case certainly has its merits. You could argue that the last time Miguel Cotto defeated a solid, world class contender was back in 2009, when won a tight Split Decision over Joshua Clottey. Since then, his fights were either victories over fringe contenders (Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga, the Margacheato rematch) or losses (Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Trout).
Add to that the facts that Cotto is now 32 years old, and the fight scene has been fretting over how much stuff Cotto had left and whether or not he is damaged goods ever since Margacheato beat him from pillar to post with plastered fists in 2008, and you have a good paper case for Cotto’s departure from the scene.
Following this logic, staying in means becoming a “name” opponent (akin to Zab Judah). Since Cotto has made some good money, he should get out of the game with his health still reasonably intact, or so the argument goes.
Boxing Isn’t That Simple
The problem with this case is that the facts aren’t actually that simple. Cotto lost a highly competitive bout on Saturday (we scored it 115-113). That shouldn’t surprise anyone since Cotto and Trout were ranked as the #3 and #4 junior middleweights in the world prior to the fight. The surprise isn’t that Cotto lost, but that so few people gave Trout a real shot at winning. Perhaps the most sensible response to this outcome would be simply to flip Cotto’s and Trout’s slots in the rankings. [Editor’s Note: Trout has moved to number 2, Cotto to number 7].
Writing off Cotto also grossly simplifies his record. He did better against Mayweather than most of that arch-slickster’s recent opponents, so he has really only suffered two crushing defeats: Pacquiao and Margacheato. Upon closer examination, while it remains true that Cotto is on a losing streak in big fights, it simply cannot be said that he would go on losing big fights. As the axiom says, “styles make fights,” and there can be no better example of this as Cotto’s own contrasting performances against Mayweather and Pacquiao.
Just because he had a hard time with the bigger, rangier Trout does not mean there are not top junior middleweights out there that Cotto can’t beat, and who is to say that Cotto might not win a rematch against Trout? There is a good case for either an Alvarez vs. Cotto bout or a Trout vs. Cotto rematch, and Cotto would be a heavy favorite against either of the other two junior middleweight titlists: Cornelius Brundrage and Zaurbek Baysangurov. Pictured against that backdrop, calls for Cotto’s retirement are premature in the extreme.