By Ian S Palmer
In what is supposed to be Miguel Cotto’s last fight, he’ll be taking on Yoshihiro Kamegai of Japan for the vacant WBO Super Welterweight Title at the StubHub Center in Carson, California this Saturday, August 26th. Fans in North America will be able to catch the 12-round bout live on HBO while fans in the UK can catch the action on BoxNation. Cotto last fought in November of 2015 when he lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Kamegai fought last October when he stopped Jesus Soto-Karass after the eighth round in their rematch following a 10-round draw five months earlier.
The 36-year-old year-old Cotto of Puerto Rico will be entering the ring with a record of 40-5 with 33 Kos. The future hall of famer is a former junior welterweight, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight world champion and also a former Olympian. He stands 5-feet-7-inches tall and has a reach of 67 inches. He’s one of the best Puerto Rican boxers ever and the first from the tiny island to win world titles in four different weight divisions. He’s a five-time world champ who’s trying to make it six on Saturday.
Cotto’s been in some wars in the past and has beaten the likes of Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga, Antonio Margarito, Daniel Geale and Sergio Martinez while losing to Alvarez, Margarito, Floyd Mayweather, Austin Trout and Manny Pacquiao with the losses to Pacquiao and Margarito coming by way of stoppage. Cotto turned pro in 2001 after fighting at the 2000 Olympics and has 321 rounds under his belt since then. When it comes to power, Cotto has quite a bit of it with a current career knockout ratio stands of 73 per cent.
Cotto has a tremendous left hook, but his power doesn’t appear to be what it used to. He’s also facing an opponent who has a hell of a chin in Kamegai. And speaking of chins, Cotto’s is quite good, but he has been stopped twice. But when it comes to boxing skills, Cotto’s are definitely superior when compared to Kamegai’s. Cotto is still pretty quick and mobile, but he may have to deal with some ring rust in the first round or two. He’s also faded late in some of his biggest fights and that could be a problem.
The 34-year-old Kamegai is known to North American fans for his 12-round slugfest loss to Robert Guerrero in June of 2014 and his pair of fights against Soto-Karass. Kamegai climbs through the ropes with a mark of 27-3-2 and has 24 Kos under his belt. His biggest fights have been against Soto-Karass, Guerrero, Johan Perez and Alfonso Gomez, with the latter there beating him by unanimous decisions. His two draws came against Soto-Karass and Jorge Silva in 10-round affairs.
Kamegai is known for his brawling abilities rather than boxing finesse. He’s as tough as they come and possesses a ton of heart and heavy, thudding fists. Kamegai is 5-foot-9 with a wingspan of 71 inches, so has a two-inch height and four-inch reach advantage on Cotto. He has 184 rounds to his name since turning pro in 2005 and has a very impressive knockout ratio of 75 per cent. The Japanese slugger also has a solid chin as he’s never been stopped and has the power to turn things around with one or two solid shots if he lands them squarely.
Kamegai likes to keep busy once the bell rings and this could cause a problem for the smaller Cotto if he’s not 100 per cent ready. For Cotto to be successful here he needs to use his jab and footwork and make sure he’s accurate with his punches and also goes to the body. He needs to keep the pressure on Kamegai and take advantage of any openings he leaves. Kamegai likes to throw a lot of punches and aren’t afraid to take two or three shots to land one of his own. Kamegai’s best chance here is to jump on Cotto right from the opening bell before Cotto can get into a rhythm and use his boxing skills. Both guys have a lot of power, but this could go the distance with Cotto taking a decision by outboxing Kamegai. Either way, it should be an entertaining fight.