June 6, 2010
Fighting for his father, who died in January, and for his legion of Puerto Rican fans, Miguel Cotto won the first boxing match at the new Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
His victory came in bizarre fashion, after Yuri Foreman slipped in the seventh round and limped through the rest of the bout. Cotto won the fight twice, taking it for good 42 seconds into the ninth round. While Foreman carried on courageously, fighting and limping simultaneously, it was Cotto who left with the World Boxing Association super welterweight title belt.
The fight, close for six rounds, turned ugly in the seventh. Foreman fell down, then came up limping and continued with severely limited movement.
Cotto battered Foreman with combinations, prompting Foreman’s wife to lean over the railing in the eighth round and scream to her husband’s corner: “Stop the fight! He can’t move!”
That corner threw the towel, and it hit Cotto in the shoulder, but Foreman pleaded for another chance. Cotto dropped him in the next round with a left hook to the body that appeared less responsible than Foreman’s injury for the ending.
“I’m a world champion,” Foreman said after the fight. “And now I’m a former world champion. But when you have the title you never quit. I didn’t want it to be stopped.”
In his first fight of this magnitude, before a crowd of 20,272, Foreman appeared jumpy early. It was Cotto who went up a weight class, yet it was also Cotto who appeared to be the larger, more intimidating fighter. Between his force and Foreman’s speed, the early rounds proved close and entertaining.
Cotto staggered Foreman with a sharp right hand in the second round. But Foreman returned fire — three sharp, crisp right hands of his own — in the fourth.
The difference in power was clear and decisive from the outset, but those who considered Foreman mere fodder for Cotto underestimated his skills. Cotto kept pursuing, kept charging, but Foreman danced and swayed and countered.
“In my mind, I thought I was winning the fight,” Cotto said.
The night held no shortage of intrigue. It marked the first boxing match in nearly 34 years at any incarnation of Yankees Stadium. It pitted a rabbinical student in Foreman, the World Boxing Association’s super welterweight champion, against Cotto, of Puerto Rico.
Negotiations began in bizarre, only-in-boxing fashion, when promoters from Top Rank Boxing found that the new stadium had already been booked for Saturday — for a bar mitzvah. Promoters came to an agreement with the Ballan family, and both bout and bar mitzvah proceeded without incident.
With that, Cotto and Foreman joined such boxing luminaries as Jack Dempsey, Max Schmeling, Ray Robinson, Rocky Marciano and Joe Louis to headline bouts at one of the Yankees’ stadiums, ending a fight drought that started after Muhammad Ali topped Ken Norton in 1976.
Foreman and Cotto had crossed paths before, albeit indirectly. Both fought in Las Vegas last Nov. 14, and the results that night — Cotto suffered a brutal beating from Manny Pacquiao in the main event; Foreman secured his title on the undercard — put them on a collision course.
And so they entered: the Puerto Rican favorite with his expansive local following against the first Orthodox Jewish boxer to hold a title in some 75 years, boxers trading punches inside a ring constructed in right field of a ballpark.
There stood Cotto, a three-time world champion in his own right, a ferocious fighter who seemed to exact or absorb severe punishment every fight. His list of victims included Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey, Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah.
But questions lingered, most notably regarding Cotto’s mental shape. His losses to Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito both ended with Cotto bleeding profusely, en route to the hospital. His father, Miguel Sr., died in January.
“He is with me,” Cotto said earlier this week, while dismissing all concerns.
Also with Cotto was Emanuel Steward, the trainer hired after the Pacquiao defeat, a man with a history of fixing careers in need. Evander Holyfield after Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis after Oliver McCall, Wladimir Klitschko after Corrie Sanders — each turned to Steward after defeats.
Cotto maintained that Steward righted his balance before this bout, key against fighters like Foreman who rely more on technical proficiency than power.
Foreman left his hotel Saturday shortly after 9 p.m., waiting until the Sabbath ended. A police escort whisked his party to the Stadium, where he entered to the sounding of a shofar, which is usually reserved for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
From Belarus to Brooklyn by way of Israel, Foreman’s fairy tale began when bullies administered a beating and Foreman’s late mother sent her young son to the local gym. Lacking facilities and equipment in Israel, he left in 1999 for New York and worked in the Garment District for $200 a week. This past month, Foreman’s face has been plastered on billboards and subway stations all over the city.
His life also changed in November, when he toppled Daniel Santos and climbed into boxing’s consciousness.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
9 35 6 6 29
Miguel Cotto 50
4 7 3 3 22 21
his path of destiny = 50
Miguel Cotto was born on October 29th, 1980 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_Cotto
10 + 29 +2+0+0+9 = 50 = his personal year