Will weight be the crucial factor in Cotto v Geale?

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Miguel Cotto is a man on a mission. The four division world champion and current WBC Middleweight champion defends his title on Saturday against the former WBA/IBF Middleweight champion Daniel Geale. It represents an intriguing matchup for several reasons.

Firstly, Cotto is at a crucial point in his career; aged 33 and following career losses to Antonio Margarito, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and most recently Austin Trout it seemed the Puerto Rican legend’s best days were behind him. Then in July 2014, Cotto stunned the boxing world by knocking out middleweight king Sergio Martinez in ten rounds. With that win Cotto became the lineal middleweight champion and he was propelled back into the upper echelons of the pound for pound rankings.

A win of that magnitude, at that point in his career is so important for a fighter like Cotto. If he were to have lost the Martinez fight he may have been facing retirement and he almost certainly would have found it difficult to secure another opportunity to fight for a world title.

In March 2015, Cotto signed a multi-fight contract with rapper Jay-Z’s promotional company Roc Nation Sports. In doing so, Cotto left Top Rank promotions who had promoted all but two of his fights. “I am just finishing the last part of my career by doing what is in the best interest for me and my family,” Cotto said.

This multi-fight deal is perhaps the last hurrah for Cotto and like most fighters in the twilight of their career the right thing for them is to make as much money for as long as they can before retiring. That includes managing the risk factor in fights.

Miguel Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs), spent most of his career fighting in the light welter and welterweight divisions and is considered to be a small middleweight. Daniel Geale (31-3, 16 KOs) is the physically bigger man, so with that in mind the fight has been made at 157 pounds, three pounds below the Middleweight limit.

The Australian fighter seems undeterred by the fight being made at catchweight despite the concern that shaving those extra pounds off could leave him drained. Fans should not be fooled by the fact that he has lost two of his last four fights. One of those was a knockout loss to the hardest hitting middleweight in history Gennady Golovkin, but apart from that his other two career losses were split decisions to fellow Aussie; Anthony Mundine, who he beat in a rematch and Britain’s Darren Barker.

Geale has a solid record; he won his first world title by beating Felix Strum on the champions home soil in Germany, a country notorious for awarding decisions to native fighters. The Australian is a fighter that does not become unsettled by circumstance or the occasion.

That aside, Miguel Cotto has been transformed under the tutelage of new trainer; Freddie Roach. In the fight against Martinez he was dynamic, fast and utilised his timing, footwork and short, sharp punching to cause significant damage to Martinez. It was a magnificent performance.

However it should be noted that going into the fight with Cotto, Martinez had been inactive for a year undergoing knee surgery during that time. Not only that but in his previous outing Martinez had won a controversial decision against Britain’s Martin Murray, in a fight many people felt Murray should have won.

Perhaps the writing was on the wall or maybe Martinez had just aged overnight as so many veteran fighters do but however you analyse it, despite dropping the Argentinian four times it still took Cotto ten rounds to put him away.

Taking all these things in consideration, Cotto will remain the favourite for a win on Saturday. Cotto is already a living legend, Geale despite all his experience and attributes as a fighter, is not in the same league. In terms of punching power, it would appear Cotto is more likely to wear middleweights down by his sheer volume of punches rather than single concussive blows. It is possible that he could stop Geale but if this was the case it would be expected to happen in the later rounds much in the same way as with the Martinez fight.

A point’s decision in favour of Cotto is the most likely outcome. However it may be a closer fight than expected; regardless of the catchweight stipulation, Geale remains the physically bigger man and Cotto could potentially struggle with this on the night. The method of victory will depend on whether Cotto caught Martinez at the right time or whether he truly is a legitimate force at middleweight. This fight should provide the answer to that question.

Bernard O'Shea
I'm like George Clooney, only without the face, physique or the charm. I am passionate about writing and I have a particular interest in soccer and boxing.
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