Miguel Cotto will be looking to pick up another world title next month in his unexpected fight for the vacant WBO junior middleweight title against Yoshihiro Kamegai (27-3-, 24 Kos) on August 26 on HBO World Championship Boxing from the beautiful StubHub Center in Carson, California.
It’s unexpected because Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs) hasn’t fought in 2 years, and he was nowhere to be seen in the rankings. Suddenly, boom, the World Boxing Organization launched the 36-year-old Cotto to the top of their 154-pound rankings shortly after Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vacated the WBO belt.
Cotto will now be fighting Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs) for the WBO strap. Next to the inactive Cotto, Kamegai, 34, is probably the least likely guy you would think that would be fighting for a world title right now with his 3-2-1 record in his last 6 fights. If you were to pick a guy to fight for a world title, I don’t think you would select someone with that kind of record in his recent fights. If this was the NFL, you wouldn’t see a team going to the Super Bowl with a record like that. That’s not a record.
“We are very happy to be back on the Wild Card and start camp with Freddie, Gavin (McMillan) and the entire team. We will work with the same intensity to get a great victory on August 26,” said Cotto about his fight with Kamegai.
Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach needs to do a better job of keeping him on point by making sure he boxes the hard hitting Kamegai instead of slugging with him. Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and Jesus Soto Karass both got caught in a war with Kamegai, and they took a lot of punishment. Kamegai is at home when he’s in the pocket, swinging for the fences against his opponent.
Kamegai does really well when he has an opponent that wants to punch with him. Kamegai is a tall guy at 5’9”, but he doesn’t mind giving up his height and reach by getting in close and swinging for the fences. He reminds me a lot of Gennady “GGG” Golovkin when he’s close. Kamegai has an ability to get tremendous power on his shots in close. If Cotto decides he wants to fight Kamegai at close range, he may be sorry he did so, because Kamegai will make him feel every bit of his 36 years of age.
Kamegai is the younger guy, and he likes to get in back and forth wars. Cotto has never been good at taking punishment, and I think he’s improved in that area with his 2 years out of the ring. Cotto’s inactivity could be a real problem for him if Kamegai is able to get him to brawl with him. Kamegai has been busy, fighting twice in 2016. Cotto took 2016 off, and he’s wasted half of 2017 as well by not fighting.
I expected Cotto to fight someone better than Kamegai after 2 years out of the ring. Of course, if the WBO is make it easy on Cotto by letting him fight Kamegai for their vacant WBO 154lb title instead of the more dangerous Erickson Lubin, who is he to argue. Cotto wasn’t going to say no to fighting a guy with a 2-3-1 record for the vacant WBO junior middleweight title. I don’t think Cotto would have accepted the fight if he had to face someone talented like Erickson Lubin. The 5’11” Lubin would be a nightmarish opponent for a fighter like Cotto coming off of a 2-year layoff. There are some fighters that you don’t mind fighting after a long layoff, and then there are ones that you want to stay far, far away from. I’d say Lubin is one of those types that you’d be better off not fighting.
Beating Kamegai wouldn’t fit the category of being a “great victory” for Cotto in my humble opinion. It would be a victory, but not a “great” one. To be a victory that would consider great, Cotto would need to defeat the likes of Erislandy Lara (without controversy) or Jermell Charlo. Those would be great victories for Cotto. If Jermall Charlo was still fighting in the 154lb division, I would include him at the top of the list for a fighter that would be a “great victory” for Cotto.
Cotto has the chance of possibly facing Saul Canelo Alvarez again if he can get past Kamegai and IF Canelo can beat Gennady “GGG” Golovkin on September 16. It would be a good fight to see Cotto and Canelo facing each other again. Canelo beat Cotto by a 12-round decision a couple of years ago. The fight was one that Cotto could have won, but he stopped boxing and started slugging midway through the fight, and this enabled Canelo to use his weight advantage to win most of the rounds in the second half. There are still a lot of fans that feel that Cotto should have won, but they’re not the judges.
If Cotto fights Canelo again, he can try and prove that he’s a better fighter. Without a rehydration clause, Cotto will have problems. Canelo would likely rehydrate to 180 and enjoy a 15-pound weight advantage over Cotto. The fight would be won on Canelo’s weight advantage rather than his boxing skills.
Cotto is putting the wraps on his boxing career. If he beats Kamegai, he has a chance of fighting Juan Manuel Marquez in either December in early 2018. If Canelo gets past Golovkin in September, then we’ll likely see Cotto and Canelo fight each other before the end of the year. If Golovkin beats Canelo, then Cotto likely will have nothing to do with the Kazakhstan fighter. The 5’10 ½” Golovkin is just too big for the 5’7” Cotto. It would be a bad fight for Cotto, as Golovkin is about as tall as Lubin, but with a lot more punching power.
As far as his fight with Kamegai goes, Cotto needs to stay on the outside and use his jab. Cotto shouldn’t get in close with the Japanese fighter, because that’s where he’s at home. Kamegai will fight Cotto all night on the inside and make him miserable if he doesn’t budge from that spot. Cotto has a good jab, and decent reach for a guy his height. If Kamegai hasn’t learned how to fight on the outside, then Cotto needs to take advantage of that by staying at a distance and jabbing him for 12 rounds. I wouldn’t go for a knockout if I were Cotto, since Kamegai is rock solid. For Cotto to attempt to get a knockout, he’ll need to get in the pocket and trade with Kamegai. If Cotto does that, he could get worn down like he was in his first fight with Antonio Margarito.