On Saturday June 13, Miguel Cotto continues his Puerto Rican Day parade fighting tradition, hosting Joshua Clottey in Madison Square Garden in a welterweight championship fight.
Cotto is actually defending the WBO belt he won in a vacant title match earlier in the year. Clottey had held the IBF version of the championship, which he won by besting Zab Judah however has since been stripped of his belt prior to this match.
33 (27) – 1
Height: 5’7″ Reach: 67″
35 (20) – 2
Height: 5’8″ Reach: 70″
Cotto vs Clottey Preview
For Miguel Cotto, this will be only the second time he has stepped into the ring since being brutally stopped by the now suspended Antonio Margarito. His last contest was against the terribly outmatched Michael Jennings, making this bout his first return to top level competition. Some questions linger about how he will fare against a capable opponent, although he showed no negative consequences mentally or physically against Jennings.
Joshua Clottey is a fighter who many believe has never truly been beaten. He has lost twice in the ring, the first of which was by disqualification in a fight he was winning against future welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir. His second loss was a decision to Margarito, in a fight he was seemingly controlling until breaking his hands in the early going.
The winner of this fight has a legitimate claim to being the number 1 or 2 welterweight in the world. Considering Cotto holds a decision over current champion Shane Mosley, and Paul Williams is for all intents and purposes a junior middleweight or heavier, the winner of the Cotto vs. Clottey match holds a serious stake to the welterweight throne.
Joshua Clottey is an absolutely huge welterweight. His size doesn’t show up in his height, a moderate 5’8″. It shows up in his fight night weights and his bulging and muscular frame. He has weighed well over the middleweight limit of 160 pounds on the day of many of his big fights, showing how much he rehydrates and how much muscle he has on his body.
All of this means that Miguel Cotto will likely have trouble being able to put a dent into Clottey’s tough armor. Margarito won a decision from him, but never had him in trouble. This is same Margarito that took Cotto’s best shots and pummeled him into submission.
Triangle theories don’t hold weight in head to head battles in the world of boxing, but they do shed light on certain things. To begin with, it seems clear that Cotto won’t be able to hurt Clottey or get him out of the fight. However, Clottey has never won a fight against a top level opponent in his prime. He sometimes gives away rounds or portions of rounds by not being active enough. He uses an effective shell defense, however all too often doesn’t throw enough returning fire to score his own points.
Cotto has the footwork, hand speed and all around technical skill to beat Clottey over 12 rounds. The question will be if he begins to grow frustrated by his inability to hurt Clottey, or Clottey’s unwavering stamina and pressure. While it’s a legitimate concern, Cotto has enough pedigree to prevent it from becoming a problem, especially against a fighter in Clottey who is not known for his power.
Expect Cotto to beat Clottey to the punch over the first half of the fight, piling up points. Clottey will come on in the middle to late rounds as Cotto resorts to more of a retreating or energy conserving strategy, rather than being offensively minded. In the closing two or three rounds, Cotto will turn on the heat once again to cement the victory.