There’s an old saying that “a good big man will beat a good small man.” But Saturday night in Brooklyn, Miguel Cotto showed what a great small man can do against a good big man when he walked through middleweight contender Daniel Geale and stopped him in Round 4.
Cotto came into the bout as the reigning WBC and lineal champion at middleweight, but the fact that he holds such a title is an historical fluke. He captured the title last June when he hammered Sergio Martinez by Round 10 TKO. Martinez was an aging champion in serious decline, hungry for a pay-per-view worthy opponent he could cash out against. Cotto moved up from light middleweight, where he was arguably no longer even in the top three, and sent Martinez packing.
The Puerto Rican star waited a year to return to the ring. When he did, his choice of opponent was a major disappointment. Geale had already lost by Round 2 KO to undefeated WBA champion Gennady Golovkin, There’s no fighter in the world more deserving of a crack at the lineal middleweight crown that GGG.
There are also few fighters more dangerous. At just 5’7″, Cotto is no middleweight. He started his career at light welterweight and still hasn’t fought at the full middleweight limit of 160 pounds. Both his fight with Martinez and his defense against Geale were held at catchweights below the limit.
Cotto has been a great star for the sport and provided fans with many exciting moments. He reminded everybody on Saturday just how special he can be, when he used his famed left hook to pound away at Geale’s body and head. Geale may not have been deserving of a shot at Cotto’s title, but he was a legitimate top-10 middleweight. For a fighter of Cotto’s size to mow him down is impressive.
Under Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, Cotto has truly appeared rejuvenated.
I don’t even really want to see Cotto fight Golovkin, a much bigger fighter with extremely dangerous power. At the same time, I also don’t want to see Cotto presented to the world as the lineal middleweight champion when he isn’t defending that claim against the most deserving candidate, who is without question Golovkin.
If Cotto defends the title next against Saul Alvarez, it will be easier to excuse him for avoiding Golovkin. Canelo is a dangerous young opponent. The Mexican redhead’s huge fan base would make a showdown between him and Cotto a major boxing event.
But the winner of that bout will have to face Golovkin, or else be ultimately irrelevant to the middleweight division, regardless of championship claims.