From Day One, Miguel Angel Cotto has been a solid citizen in Boxing Nation.
But you could say the Boricua Bomber has never stood taller than he did during 2011 and that is why he is my personal choice as Fighter of the Year.
Like many, I was leaning towards undefeated Andre “SOG” Ward especially after he gave brash Brit Carl Froch a 36 minute boxing lesson in Atlantic City. At the tender age of 27, you can be sure that Ward will be an acclamation FOTY in years to come.
Yes, I said years plural becuase the slickster from the Bay Area is the heir apparent to almost age 35 Floyd Mayweather Jr. as America’s most outstanding boxer.
In a year in which both Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao were less than dazzling, the choices are many. Nonito Donaire Jr. certainly merits consideration for this honor but he sewed up Knockout of the Year back in February when he crushed one side of Fernando Montiel’s face.
But Cotto is my man for this 12 month period. Not only did he give a sustained beating to the trying so hard Ricardo Mayaorga, he dealt what may have been a career ending beating in his “redemption” revenge bout against Antonio Margarito.
It’s still questionable as to why New York even permitted Margarito to be licensed for the Madison Square Garden bout but my guess is phone calls placed to Governor Cuomo by HBO and Garden executives hard something to do with the green light despite Margarito’s eye problem. (It was crystal clear from the start that NYSAC ‘s Melvina Lathan wished Margarito-Cotto would disappear or move to Colorado or Texas.)
But I digress.
Let’s focus on Cotto’s banner year again because it was all that and a bag of chifles.
While many, including yours truly, thought and said that Cotto’s skills were diminishing, he finished strong against the nutty Nicraguan Mayorga, dropping him in the final round to notch a TKO victory in March in Las Vegas. (That may have been the final co-promotion by and between HOF promoters Don King and Bob Arum.)
Cotto said “J’accuse”–or he would have if he spoke French–as to Margarito’s three years ago TKO over him in Las Vegas. Cotto constantly said he believes that Mexican Margarito cheated by using hinky handwraps in that beatdown.
Then, with 21,000 pulsating countrymen cheering his every move, Cotto went out and demolished Margarito systematically giving the “Tijuana Tornado” a worse, sytematic beating than even Pacquiao did.
Cotto fought with a smart but aggressive style that almost shouted “the only way this guy ever beat me was to cheat me.”
It was a night of unquestionable redemption for Cotto.
It was a magical night at the Garden for everyone except the badly battered Margarito.
We’ll never know if Tone Loc and his then trainer, Javier Capetillo, cheated to steal the 2008 bout victory from Cotto.
What we do know is that Cotto is back, Cotto is resurgent and that, on this man’s ballot, he more than earned FOTY honors.
The Margarito-Cotto telenovela is over and done with.
In the end, the good guy from Caguas won.