Miguel Cotto wakes up boxing fans, drops and stops Delvin Rodriguez in three
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Miguel Cotto wakes up boxing fans, drops and stops Delvin Rodriguez in three
By Gabriel Montoya, MaxBoxing, Doghouse Boxing (Oct 6, 2013)

Miguel Cotto hammers Delvin Rodriguez
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
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Atop a split-site triple-header that pitted boxing fans' love of the sweet science vs. how much boredom they could take, Miguel Cotto dropped and stopped Delvin Rodriguez at 2:42 of the third round in front of 11,912 adoring fans at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. For two bouts on Saturday's HBO telecast, boxing fans must have felt like they wandered into some sort of pyramid scheme to take their money while putting them to sleep. Luckily the third bout, which featured Cotto returning “Reloaded” to where it all started in finishing out his career with promoter Top Rank live on HBO, was the shot of pure, calculated violence everyone had paid to see.

The co-feature of the evening was a ten rounder between unbeaten lightweight contenders Terrence Crawford and Andrey Klimov. The opening bout, from Olimpiyskiy, Moscow, Russia, was the replay of Wrestlemania XXX: Wladimir Klitschko vs. Alexander Povetkin for the heavyweight championship of the world sans the belt that Wladimir's brother, Vitali, owns.

For a full report on that fight, see John Rapsanti's link:
Klitschko easily defeats Povetkin to retain titles

Crawford, 22-0, (16) vs Klimov, 16-1, (8), was as far from exciting as Pluto is both from Earth and from being classified as a planet anymore. Far. Crawford, 26, is a gifted fighter who shows versatility in his win. But he's Boxing Light: All the skills with half the aggression. Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, Crawford is the perfect package in terms of skills and athleticism. Fast of hands and quick on his feet, it was Crawford's agile mind that confused Klimov. First with a metronome sledgehammer jab and then a sneaky right hand. Later, “Hunter,” as Crawford is called, switched southpaw for long stretches, shooting the left up the pipe into Klimov's guard, further stunning him into a kind of hypnotized submission.

But if there is a knock on Crawford it's that he fights as if he is very worried about the incoming. The punches flash but the combinations are always on hold. Too few and far between were the offensive bursts from Crawford, who successfully hunted a and tamed Klimov, but never risked to finish off his prey. He simply doesn't risk to gain. Without, greatness may allude him no matter how many belts he piles up which could be plentiful.

As for Klimov, 31, there isn't much to be said. He's a solid boxer who seems to leave his best work in the gym.

“You aren't doing what we worked on in the gym,” admonished his trainer Shadeed Saluki, who had a lot of choice words for Klimov throughout the bout.

The problem Saluki had was that Klimov was simply not throwing punches. He is a solid boxer with all the punches and can throw combinations. I've seen him in the gym do just that. But on this stage, with this fighter in front of him, he simply could not get off any shots. And it drove his trainer nuts.

“Translate this for him,” Saluki said to Klimov's translator. “You're fighting like a coward,” imploring his fighter to do something, anything to get into the fight.

But there was no getting past Crawford's plentiful array of weaponry. And yet with that arsenal and not much coming back, “Hunter” did not kill his prey. He was content to go the distance. That's going to work against all our favors at some point. It did on this night for fans in terms of excitmenet. There were boos throughout both at the Amway Center and on twitter. But for Crawford, he is now the mandatory defense for the WBO lightweight belt currently held by Ricky Burns. Many will rightfully pick him to win that match-up.

Burns is out of commission with a broken jaw and the guy who should have his belt, Ray Beltran, may get a chance to fight in a box-off for an “interim” version of the belt against Crawford. Meaning, the sanctioning bodies need the guys wearing their belt sot keep fighting. So if one is injured, they will simply create an imaginary belt that they will then charge promoters and fighters money for so they (the WBO, WBC, WBA and IBF) remain relevant. A likely scenario is Beltran vs. Crawford. Maybe Beltran can bring the fight out of Crawford, who seems to have the rest of the package to be special.

Cotto beats down Rodriguez.
Photos © Chris Farina / Top Rank
Cotto vs. Rodriguez

Miguel Cotto looked sensational against Delvin Rodriguez. Quick, fluid, trimmed and ready to go, Cotto came out sweeping the left hook on the taller Rodriguez right from the get. At 5'7” to Rodriguez's 5'10 ½, Cotto was a hard target. He came in low and brought shots fluidly from left hookercut to right underneath Rodriguez's ribs. Cotto's new trainer, Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, helped Cotto, conditioned superbly by Gavin MacMillan, return to his roots, which is the ribs of his opponents. Over and over again, Cotto shot the left jab, minding his right hand defense, and then dipped and killed Rodriguez' ribs.

Rodriguez' plan was to optimize his left jab, right cross offense. That's who he is as a fighter. Right down the pipe if he can land it, the right is dangerous from Rodriguez. Cotto was simply too smart to let that happen to him. He barely got touched.

Cotto is an interesting fighter in that he is a blend of many things. A straight forward brawler, a pure boxer who can pick shots off with his gloves with ease while moving his head, a vicious stalker who can swing both hands with equal cruelty while stepping forward and making his opponent miss. Cotto is the sum of his campaigns in three weight classes. All those battles have steeled a fighter looking down the barrel of maybe three more fights.

At the end of round two, Cotto clipped Rodriguez's chin with a right left combo. Buzzed as the bell rang, Rodriguez wandered to his corner and Cotto, a stone killer inside the ropes, took note.

Early in the third Cotto closed the gap, put Rodriguez with his back to the ropes and shot a right hand. It got lost in Rodriguez' shoulder but that wasn't the punch Cotto was looking for. It was the perfect left hook that clipped Delvin's chin and droopped him so hard, referee Frank Santore, Jr fell all over himself and Rodriguez to stop the fight at :18 of the third.

Cotto has options aplenty. Top Rank's Bob Arum recently made a comment in the press about Saul “Canelo” Alvarez being a free agent. Golden Boy's Dick Schaefer suffered a mild aneurysm and then called Boxingdream.com to refute the claim. What most everyone failed to understand was that all Arum was saying was if Canelo had any intention of making that Cotto money, well, Bob is all ears and options. Unlike the Mexican superstar franchise Julio “Menudo” Chavez, Jr, Saul Alvarez likes to train. It's clear Arum wouldn't mind upgrading.

Assembling this new team of Roach and MacMillan looked to do wonders for a fighter who has never cheated the game. True, Rodriguez was outclassed here tonight and off this win, it's too far a jump shot to make it into a Mayweather rematch basket. Still, he's arguably the strongest franchise boxer behind Mayweather right now. Cotto pleased almost 12,000 people on Saturday night and in the process, he saved a night that for moment, looked lost.

You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim, now at its new home, www.blogtalkradio.com/thenextround. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PST.
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