Miguel Cotto is a man who really doesn't ever edge out onto a limb -- but he went there in the last couple days, saying that on Saturday night, against Austin Trout, "we're going to see the best Miguel Cotto ever."
Yeah, that's saying something, considering he's 32 and is coming off a loss. But the loss was to the best in the biz, Floyd Mayweather, and Cotto gave a deeper hint why he feels re-energized in the fight game while sitting down with media at the end of the Wednesday news conference at Madison Square Garden. He said beating Antonio Margarito last December, at MSG, helped him get his head on straight.
How so? He had been "refusing to trust" himself after the 2008 loss to Margarito and cited his "attitude when I face a challenge." If I may be so bold as to read between the lines -- Cotto took a knee twice in Round 11 of his first fight with Margarito, and looked at his corner, as if to indicate he didn't want any more punishment. His trainer-uncle Evangelista hopped up onto the apron to signal surrender ... and that has stuck in Cotto's craw ever since. When he kicked Margarito's tail last December, and the docs determined after nine rounds that the Mexican shouldn't continue, Cotto basically swatted the ghosts of self doubt out of his head.
That he pressed Mayweather to the extent he did further emboldened him, and then there's a training tweak which I think has him extra amped about the Saturday scrap. Cotto's trainer, Pedro Diaz Benitez, told me that for the first time Cotto trained at high altitude, at Big Bear in California, and the trainer thinks his stamina will be a cut above where it's been.
Certaintly, Cotto seems confident; why wouldn't he be? He's 8-0 at MSG. "The people (the fans) there help me a lot," he explained. "They have me boxing when I need to box, and brawling when I need to brawl," he said, painting the MSG rooters as something like an extra trainer/motivator come fight night.
"No lefties have caused me problems, so I don't expect Austin will cause me problems." Nope ... Cotto didn't seem worried, in the least. I contrast that with what he told me before the Mayweather fight, that he was looking to do the best he could, before catching himself, and assuring me that he would beat Floyd.
Plenty of pundits are picking Trout to stay unbeaten and go to 26-0, but I like Cotto's strength and stamina and will and seasoning on such immense stages to push him to prevail on Saturday.
Readers, feel free to drop a prediction in the comment section, and read NYFightBlog for copious posts Saturday night.