Diego Morilla’s “Monday Morning Cornermen” (Dec. 1 edition)

In this new section of The Sweet Science, we step back and take a critical look at the fights that took place on the previous weekend, we compare our own previews with the way the actual fights went on, and we take your opinions and questions (along with those of special guests) to create a final analysis to another weekend of boxing. Follow us every Monday at #MMCatTSS and @TSSboxingnews , and send us your thoughts at diegomorillabox@hotmail.com

Cotto Will Face Ali Again, and Again…

A little more than 20 years has elapsed since I strolled into the old Naval Base in Puerto Rico to catch a glimpse of then-16-year old Miguel Cotto running around covered in black plastic bags held together with duct tape trying to sweat off the extra weight for an amateur bout and scribbled his name in my notepad for the first time. Today, my “to do” list includes the words “Miguel Cotto” for the last time as an active fighter, and his name will now become part of the greater task of measuring his impact on boxing history through the years.

Five years from now, he will have the first milestone of the next stage of his quest for immortality when he will be measured against probably the strongest International Boxing Hall of Fame class of candidates ever in history, all of them jockeying for a slot among the canonizing plaques of Canastota.

Considering the names in play (Klitschko, probably Mayweather, perhaps even Pacquiao, and many others) it will be possible to see Cotto lose that first match against history, especially after his heartbreaking loss in his final bout against Sadam Ali. But just as he emerged from a bittersweet amateur career to have one of the most successful pro careers in the history of his country, his resilience will probably carry him to the IBHOF podium once again, and there are plenty of reasons for him not to worry about his place in history. His list of what-ifs is the shortest ever. Duran never fought Arguello, Chavez or Sanchez, but Cotto fought the best of his era and never speculated on the potential damage that a stain on his unbeaten record may produce on his legacy.

But above all, my guess is that the one trait in which his legacy will be cemented will be the silent rage of the underdog that drove his early days and defined his personality. His career was born with the century and helped establish a standard of his own. The era in which loudmouths won and hard-working quiet guys never made it anywhere was in the past. And as much as Muhammad Ali and his loud and brash style defined the latter part of the 20th century, Cotto and his more quiet and subdued approach to self-promotion will also be considered an asset in his quest for immortality. The distance between what he promised or proclaimed and what he actually achieved is remarkable, and his humility will definitely become one of his most memorable traits. In that context, it is only fitting that he chose another Ali to dramatize this confrontation of styles in his very last outing, now that he gets ready to have his accomplishments measured against every other Ali in history, and beyond.

Knowing Cotto the way I do, I believe he is already betting on himself for this confrontation as well. He wouldn’t want it any other way.

Death, Taxes and Erik Morales

The International Boxing Hall of Fame is getting ready to release the names of their three boxers to be enshrined in the “Modern” category in next year’s induction ceremony in Canastota, NY.  They will be announced on Dec. 5, and as usual there are plenty of options to choose from in a field of over 20 names including the likes of Vitali Klitschko, Ivan Calderon, Ricky Hatton, Winky Wright, Santos Laciar and many others.

But as the opening of the envelopes and the release of the white smoke from boxing’s ultimate pilgrimage site draw near, there is only one name that seems to be a lock for this year’s trio of immortals, and that’s Erik Morales. Even the man himself knows this, having gone as far as publicly admitting that he has been told to get his travel papers in order for next year’s ceremony in upstate New York. Sure, there can be arguments made about any of the other candidates, but very few people will be surprised if any other two candidates are chosen in the remaining two spots. A firm rationale could be made for either one of them, but there is no possible or explainable vote that could leave “El Terrible” away from the IBHOF for another year or more.

Of course, there will be other categories producing a fresh batch of Hall of Famers, such as the classic “Old Timer”, “Observer” and “Non-Participant” classes, but even across the entire range of newcomers, there is only one shoo-in, and that’s the multiple champ from Tijuana, one of the most exciting fighters in recent memory.

The Superfly Franchise is Here to Stay

Seizing the extra attention provided by Miguel Cotto’s farewell bout last Saturday, HBO announced that the “Superfly 2” card will air on February 24, with WBC super flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai defending against mandatory challenger Juan Francisco Estrada in the main event.

The card is obviously the second part of the acclaimed “Superfly” card of last September, in which Rungvisai defeated Roman Gonzalez in the main event during an extraordinary night of superb boxing talent on display at Carson’s StubHub Center. This time, the card will likely land at The Forum in Inglewood, California, and there will be another star-studded lineup in the co-main events, with WBO super flyweight titlist Naoya Inoue returning to the States to make a new appearance, as well as other potential bouts being discussed with names such as Zolani Tete, Omar Narvaez and others. It will be a great night of boxing, yes, but it will hopefully be the second of many more, and the start of a franchise that I wouldn’t mind seeing expand beyond the limitations of the 115-pound division to encompass other lower weights as well and to give visibility to some of the great fighters in those divisions around the flyweight weight class. “Flyxtravaganza” or “Flylapalooza” may not be the best names out there, but if HBO can come up with something better I’ll take it! If not, there they are, copyright-free for you. You’re welcome!

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