Sharkie’s Machine: Thoughts about Cotto, Gomez and Questionable Match Making
By Frank Gonzalez Jr. - Doghouse Boxing (April 14, 2008) Photo © German Villasenor  
Saturday night in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Miguel Cotto (32-0, 26 KO’s) made easy work of Alphonso Gomez (19-3-2, 8 KO’s) winning by TKO after the fifth round when the ringside doctor stepped in and stopped it. Even though Gomez was in way over his head and getting floored three times in five rounds, he wasn’t incapable of continuing. That stoppage, while merciful, was totally premature.

Imagine the controversy that would have risen had the ringside doctor come in and retired
Miguel Cotto during the DeMarcus Corley fight? No way that that would’ve happened, but there was no controversy about this one. Maybe to mask the more subtle controversy as to why Cotto vs. Gomez was even made?

If that was Cotto vs. ____ (anyone who at least deserved to be in the ring with him) that wouldn’t have been an acceptable point to stop the fight. Gomez was still alert and capable. He was considerably beat up, his right eye closing and his face swollen, but still alert and capable of continuing. If Arum didn’t want Gomez to get hurt, why match him up with one of the best fighters in the division in the first place? It’s not like Gomez has put a string of impressive wins together and suddenly is in league with the likes of Miguel Cotto.

And what the hell is up with HBO and Showtime airing boxing programs at the same time? Do they want to shrink the size of their audience? You can’t watch them both unless you tape one, while watching the other, then have to watch the tape after the first one, after which time its not even fresh anymore. So you need two VCRs, two TVs and a lot of patients. Are these businessmen who
run boxing so bad at their craft that they can’t even see the foolishness of this program scheduling? It’s like they want fans to get sick of their idiocy and just quit being “fanatical” about boxing. Amazing!

Alphonso Gomez is a personable kind of guy, a good, developing fighter and someone easy to root for. His part on the TV show, “The Contender” introduced him to mainstream America and America seemed to like him. Gomez was one of the most likable in a cast that included the likes of Sergio Mora, Peter Manfredo Jr., Ishe Smith, Anthony Bonsante, Jesse Brinkley and a few other, less remembered fighters.

Gomez made it to The Contender Finale and lost a decision to Manfredo. Gomez reaped the benefits of his congeniality, as his new found fame got him a shot to take Arturo Gatti’s last marketable fight on the road. But don’t be fooled too much.

The great fighter that was once Arturo Gatti was not the same guy Gomez fought and beat. Gatti was but a shell of the rugged brawler/boxer he once was. What made Gatti great—was that he wasn’t. He was a blue collar fighter that everyday guys can identify with. In his better days, he probably would have knocked Gomez out after about four exciting rounds. Gatti gave everything he had to the sport and the fans loved him for it. He was a modern day Gladiator. Gatti was past his prime before Floyd Mayweather Jr. elected to dip his beak in Gatti’s good name. Gatti was so exciting at one time that his name alone would sell out any venue in Atlantic City if he decided to make a comeback next week.

These days, the power of names seems more important than anything else in boxing. How one gets a name depends on who ones promoter is and how much power that promoter has. Marketability or perceived marketability is what promoters want most in their fighters. It’s not enough to be a great pugilist. They want to sell tickets, make big PPV events and cash in on their investments. Cool. Boxing is a business and businessmen run boxing. They’re not good businessmen though, or boxing would be at least as big as it used to be just twenty years ago; but they are the business end of the sport. They will survive because our collective standards have fallen so low in terms of what we consider legitimate, boxing entertainment.

Unfortunately, some big name fighters have become businessmen, while they’re still fighters. They seek to protect their investment; their name, and their unblemished records. Seems a terrible conflict of interests.

Brady Bunch marketability aside, how the hell does Alphonso Gomez, with a meager record of 18-3, with only 8 KO’s qualify as an opponent to the unbeaten, WBA World Titleist, Miguel Cotto? The same guy that most fans with a functioning brain want to see fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. to clear up the fog at Welterweight.

I mean, how cheap is a World Title? Was there no one at Welter worthy of a shot at Cotto’s title? What about the upper echelon of prospect/contenders like Andre Berto, Collazo, Williams, Clottey, and Klose? How about sudden sensation who never fought nobody, Julio Caesar Chavez Jr.? He’s already ranked #5 in the WBC, can you imagine? What about Yuri Nuzhnenko? I know, I never heard of him either, but Gomez?

Miguel Cotto is arguably one of the best fighters in all of boxing. He’s an undefeated champion with a fairly strong resume. After wins over Paul Malignaggi, Carlos Quintana, Oktay Urkal, Zab Judah and Shane Mosley it would be logical to assume he would fight someone with another title belt at best or someone who’s a top contender at the least. This is a case of bad match making because as the fight proved, Gomez didn’t qualify. Watching Cotto shadow box might have been equally entertaining. And it was kind of sad watching Gomez so overmatched. Cotto beat him as easily as a lion might rip apart a common house cat.

Is THIS what the promoters think fans want to see? Mismatches? I don’t think so. But there are some fools out there who think its okay for big time fighters to make a little extra money wasting valuable CAREER TIME with a few safe fights between big match ups, but come on, this is bad business on every level.

It makes Alphonso Gomez less marketable. It makes Cotto look bad because being where he is and fighting B class fighters suggests that maybe he don’t really want to take on the best fighters out there (like others who will remain nameless in this paragraph). It’s bad for the sport because it insults the intelligence of fans, and brings to light the truth that boxing does NOT have a legitimate rankings system and is therefore little more than of a series of, “Events.” As opposed to being a legitimate, merit based sport. Its bad business because boxing will lose fans and the revenues will get smaller and smaller.

Miguel Cotto never calls anyone out and after the mismatch with Gomez, Cotto stuck to his usual line that he’ll fight whoever his manager/promoter puts in front of him. When prodded to call out Floyd Mayweather Jr., Cotto said he wasn’t afraid of anyone. You have to wonder…does Cotto actually want to fight Mayweather. If so, why not take the liberty to say so. It wouldn’t make him a braggart. There’d be no lost honor.

Boxing feels like a soap opera with a bunch of name brand fighters as the characters, who dance around and avoid each other, more than go after each other.

On the lighter side of the news, brave Puerto Rican former IBF Welterweight Titleist Kermit Cintron showed real heart, taking on the man who blemished his record and knocked him out a couple of years ago in Antonio Margarito. It was like de ja vu though for Kermit, who got knocked out again, in the sixth round, the same round he got ko’d by Margarito last time they met. This time the KO came via a Margarito left hook to the body that felled Kermit, who fought too stiff. Margarito is a Wildman who don’t care if you hit him so long as he can hit you. It will be tough for Margarito to get fights with any of the other big names except for maybe Cotto.

Margarito now owns the IBF title and should be able to force a fight with Cotto or Quintana. Mayweather is not included because he doesn’t have to fight the best to be the best; his fans just have to keep believing it to make it so. Besides, we’ll be lucky to see him fight Oscar De La Hoya again for 60 bucks in September, so let’s not get too greedy here.

You know how many guys have to fight with their wives and girlfriends to weasel out of family engagements and other such obligations just so they can go watch the fights? And for what? For this?

Since Mayweather is out of the question, I do want to see Cotto fight Margarito. I think it’s a great match up for both guys. Cotto has great footwork, strong punching power and timing, decent defense and a very relaxed style that keeps him in constant motion, almost like a dance. Margarito brings everything—boxing, slugging, take a shot to deliver a shot. Margarito is a tough proposition for anyone in his realm. In retrospect, I can’t believe he lost to Paul Williams. Maybe it was a size thing, who knows?

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