Bailey vs. Cotto: What It Takes
By Chris Robinson (December 10, 2004) 
Photo © Chris Farina
It was a hot night in Miami and the leather was flying. Felix Trinidad was in the main event bumping noggins with gritty Frenchman Mamadou Thiam and fireworks were expected on this night of July 22, 2000. True to form Trinidad lit up the AmericanAirlines Arena on his way to a third round stoppage of Thiam. It was a typical Felix Trinidad showcase and he unveiled many of his tricks. The punishing left hooks, patient aggressiveness, and most importantly the power of the Puerto Rican champion were all on display as he went to work in front of his wild and faithful fans.

With the win Trinidad paved the way towards a huge December date with fellow champion Fernando Vargas and HBO televised it all. The only problem is that something was missing on that warm summer evening. HBO had opted to feature only the Trinidad bout, and in doing so they bypassed another very meaningful championship fight. That particular bout was Randall Bailey’s defense of his WBO Jr. Welterweight belt against Colombian Ener Julio, and it was quite the fight for anyone who was lucky enough to catch it.

Bailey and Julio produced what many like to call the ‘Fight of the Year’ as they exchanged fierce punches and knockdowns over the course of twelve rounds. Julio claimed the win but the fight could have gone either way. In losing, we witnessed the true championship mettle Randall Bailey is capable of bringing to the ring. He went through fire that night and Julio was lucky to escape with the win in a close one. Since the bout was not televised many fans were robbed of a great fight. For those who saw it, there is no denying the sheer brutality of the contest while also recognizing Julio and Bailey as a pair of damn good fighters.

Bailey has had some ups and downs since his encounter with Julio and he finds himself in a rare position December 11th, as he will be attempting to regain the WBO title from current champion Miguel Cotto. This fight is an intriguing one, with Bailey seemingly by far the hardest puncher Miguel will have ever squared off with. People often question a young fighter’s chin and perhaps a few glimpses of Cotto absorbing Bailey’s bombs will give us the answer as to how sturdy Cotto’s beard is.

For his part, Miguel Cotto has some of the makings of a potential great. He combines patience, pressure, ring savvy, and toughness altogether in such a disciplined and effective manner that it's hard to deny his potential. Dominant wins over the likes of Kelson Pinto, Cesar Bazan, Victoriano Sosa and others have shown some of Cotto’s true abilities in the ring. He works the body over like a true pro and has enough power to get most people’s respect. He can also box a bit and appears to have the hunger of a champion for years to come.

The scenario appears to be cut and dry; Bailey in one corner and Cotto in the other. One is a fighter with past glory looking to regain his championship status while the other is a young sensation on the way up. A Cotto victory seems to be the general consensus but we can’t forget the X factor, which in my mind is Bailey’s previously mentioned brawl with Julio. In that epic battle Bailey showed what true champions are made of as he dug down deep, demonstrating a champion’s heart every step of the way. Bailey may not beat Miguel Cotto on December 11th, but he has surely shown in the past that he has what it takes to make things more than interesting.
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