By Alex Dombroff
Minutes after overcoming a vicious cut and an equally vicious Joshua Clottey, welterweight champion Miguel Cotto was asked what lies ahead for him. His response – one word – was as confident as any punch he threw all night. “Vacation!” And who could blame him?
Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs) fighting in front of a raucous crowd of supporters at Madison Square Garden on the eve of New York’s Puerto Rican Day parade, looked beat up and exhausted at the post fight press conference following his grueling split decision win over Clottey.
And his appearance was brief.
Cotto only stopped to chat for a few minutes, en route to the hospital where the cut, which opened in third round above his left eye after an accidental headbutt, needed stitching.
“I am a little tired and have a huge cut on my left eye,” said Cotto. “I didn’t see the right hand coming. In the last five rounds, I handled it pretty well.”
Cotto’s opinion wasn’t far off from that of the judges.
Judges John McKaie (115-112) and Don Trella (116-111), had Cotto sweeping the last three and four rounds, respectively, on their scorecards. The dissenting opinion, turned in by Tom Miller (113-114), had Clottey winning five of the last six rounds.
The tight decision, and mixed opinion among press row about who was the real winner, was one of the main issues discussed on the dais after the fight.
“After ten rounds, I had it five rounds for Cotto, five rounds for Clottey,” said Top Rank President Bob Arum, who noted that would put Cotto up a point due to the flash knockdown he scored on a jab in the closing seconds of round one. “I thought Cotto clearly won the eleventh. The twelfth could’ve gone either way. If you gave it to Clottey, you still had Cotto up one point.”
Clottey (35-3, 21 KOs) used the post-fight stage to express his displeasure with the result, and at the same time begin his lobbying for a rematch.
“I think I won the fight, but I didn’t get the decision,” said Clottey. “The thing that would make me happy is a rematch. I’m very upset, but I have to move on. But what will make me happy is for Mr. Bob Arum to give me a rematch.”
A rematch is one Arum had already admitted was a tough sell given the big money fights that await Cotto. And although there were mild cheers among the press corps whenever the proposal of a rematch was fired at one of the principals on stage, the center of conversation was life after Joshua Clottey for Miguel Cotto.
“We’re going to have to talk to the Cotto people,” said Arum. “He has a lot of options. I would like for him to fight Manny Pacquiao. That would be a tremendous fight, and I hope we can get it done for November.”
Pound-for-pound champ, Pacquiao, would obviously make for a big money fight, but the one name Arum couldn’t avoid responding to was that of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Mayweather, whose return to the ring July 18th has now been postponed, is still viewed by many as the top fighter in the world despite a 19-month ring layoff, and a fight with Pacquiao could be the highest grossing of all time.
But Arum isn’t buying that he’ll see Mayweather in the ring with either of his guys anytime soon.
“Floyd has a fight coming up with Marquez, and then he’ll probably want to fight Calderon,” said Arum referring to Ivan Calderson, the 108-pound champion who also fought on the show. “Mayweather won’t fight anyone that can beat him. He will only fight someone who he thinks is not a danger. Psychologically, he cannot take defeat.”
Cotto, himself, took a wait-and-see approach in terms of finding his next opponent. He even said he would be open to a rematch with Clottey, however unlikely that may seem.
“I’m going to sit with the company,” said Cotto. “If the rematch is the way the company wants to follow, we’ll do it.”
Reminded that the fight fans want to see Cotto back in the ring as quickly as possible, Cotto reminded everyone a little R & R was in order before anything else.
“The people have to wait till I rest a little bit,” he said.