One of the loudest criticisms of boxing -- usually levied by advocates of mixed martial arts -- is that the sport is dominated by aging stars. For the most part, the critics are correct.
Those criticisms are beginning to lack credence, however, thanks to some impressive performances by boxing's next generation of stars. Beginning with 25-year-old
Cotto's victory over Mosley was a microcosm for his career: impressive, yet with considerable room for improvement. For nine rounds, Cotto (31-0) dominated Mosley (44-5), landing repeated bombs to Mosley's skull while jabbing effectively enough to keep the faster Mosley from hitting him with combinations.
But whether it was fatigue or a desire to stay away from the knockout punch, Cotto morphed into a different fighter from the ninth round on. He was tentative, still landing big shots but firing them off of his back foot, as he let Mosley set the pace. He already had the fight well in hand (SI.com scored it 116-113 for Cotto), but for a fighter known for his aggressiveness, the decision to lay back was puzzling.
Still, Cotto's performance on Saturday clearly established himself as an elite fighter. In front of 17,135 mostly pro-Cotto fans at Madison Square Garden (one gets the feeling the Puerto Rican Cotto could pack that many into the Garden every weekend), the WBA champion beat up on a boxing legend in Mosley, who had won his previous five welterweight fights since returning to the division in 2005. Questions about his chin, which Mosley called "suspect" before the fight, were answered as Cotto survived several early onslaughts from Mosley and kept coming. Roles were reversed when the ordinarily surgical Mosley began to swing wildly, while Cotto snapped Mosley's head back with crisp jabs and well placed left hooks.
With the win, Cotto's place in the welterweight pecking order is clear: Mayweather is one, Cotto is two, with fighters like
Cotto has slain one legend. Let's see if he can slay another.
De La Hoya announced at the post-fight press conference that he would return to the ring on May 3, 2008 against an opponent to be named later. De La Hoya indicated that he has decided who he wants to fight (the buzz on press row is that it is Cotto) but would not reveal the name until after Mayweather-Hatton. "I've given [Golden Boy CEO]