Cotto puts mid­dleweight belt on line as he pre­pares for spat

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY BARRY WILNER

There might be as many ques­tions to an­swer in Satur­day night’s WBC mid­dleweight ti­tle fight as there will be punches thrown.

Cham­pion Miguel Cotto has had a year’s lay­off since tak­ing the belt from Ser­gio Martinez. Will he be rusty?

At 34, Cotto has done lots of hit­ting and been hit plenty, too. Is there any­thing left?

The Puerto Ri­can star is not a nat­u­ral mid­dleweight, ei­ther.

Chal­lenger Daniel Geale, a 34-year-old Aus­tralian, is com­ing way down in weight and must show he can get to or un­der 157 for the bout at the Bar­clays Cen­ter. The fighters’ camps agreed to that catch weight even though the mid­dleweight max­i­mum is 160 pounds.

So there even was the ques­tion whether the fight would come off if the weights are in dis­pute; the WBC could rec­og­nize it as a ti­tle fight as long as both box­ers are at 160 or lower.

“I think that peo­ple are mak­ing a big is­sue where there does not need to be a big is­sue with catch weights,” Cotto said. “Catch weights were our main point to make this fight hap­pen. Daniel and his team agreed to go­ing down to 157.”

Geale isn’t thrilled about the prospect of get­ting so thin con­sid­er­ing he is a nat­u­ral mid­dleweight who has held the IBF and WBA crowns.

“Those three pounds def­i­nitely do make a dif­fer­ence,” he said. “They put that ex­tra lit­tle bit of pres­sure on your body. But I will come back up. That’s why I wanted the fight whether it was at a catch weight or not. I know my body re­cov­ers rel­a­tively quickly. Given that full day in be­tween (weigh-in and bout), I should be back to 100 per­cent.”

Cotto (39-4, 32 knock­outs) of­ten is at 100 per­cent when he fights in New York. The only Puerto Ri­can boxer to own belts in four di­vi­sions, he has been a huge at­trac­tion in the past, par­tic­u­larly in June when he has fought on the eve of the Puerto Ri­can Day pa­rade. This year, he en­ters the ring eight days be­fore the pa­rade, hop­ing to get an early start on the fes­tiv­i­ties.

“I’m en­cour­ag­ing ev­ery­one plan­ning on com­ing to the pa­rade on June 14 to sup­port our man Miguel Cotto on Satur­day,” said pa­rade rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ululy Rafael Martinez.

An im­pres­sive win af­ter such a long lay­off could put Cotto in line for an­other big-money fight with Canelo Al­varez. Geale comes off a de­ci­sion against coun­try­man Jar­rod Fletcher last De­cem­ber; his pre­vi­ous fight was a third-round knock­out loss to im­pres­sive su­per mid­dleweight Gen­nady Golovkin, who holds the WBA ti­tle.

Two of his losses have come in his last four out­ings.

Geale (31-3, 16 knock­outs) be­lieves Cotto has his eyes on the fu­ture, not on him.

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