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Friday, November 13, 2009

Cotto insisting he's not damaged goods

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By George Willis

LAS VEGAS -- The last time Miguel Cotto fought in Las Vegas, he left the MGM Grand Garden Arena in an ambulance headed for a Las Vegas hospital. He had endured a beating from the fists of Antonio Margarito, a fight stopped in the 11th round when a bloodied and battered Cotto couldn't take any more punishment.

It was Cotto's first defeat, but the brutality of it prompted questions whether the Puerto Rican superstar would ever be the same fighter, questions that still linger heading into tomorrow's pay-per-view showdown with Manny Pacquiao.

Cotto insists he is not damaged goods; the blood that drained from his mouth, his eyes and his ears is a distant memory. He says he is physically and mentally recovered from that defeat 16 months ago, a loss tinged in controversy after Margarito was caught six months later using a hardened substance in his hand wraps just before entering the ring against Shane Mosley. Did Margarito doctor his wraps against Cotto? We'll likely never know, but we do know some fighters are never the same after losing in such a brutal fashion.

Jeff Lacey has never been the same since being beaten by Joe Calzaghe and was Mike Tyson really ever as menacing after being stopped by Buster Douglas?

Cotto, 29, insists he's the same warrior he always was and points to subsequent wins over Michael Jennings of England and Joshua Clottey at the Garden as proof. Though Jennings didn't offer much competition en route to claiming the WBO welterweight crown, Cotto survived a tough 12-round brawl with Clottey last June to capture a split decision. Cotto fought much of the bout with a nasty cut over his left eye and took enough punches to look more like the loser than the winner, but the victory has earned him a shot at Pacquiao.

"Something like (the Margarito loss) is not an easy thing to deal with," said Phil Landman, Cotto's strength coach. "It was pretty tough. But it all comes back to the ability to refocus on the future and what's coming ahead. I think he's done a good job of that."

Cotto doesn't dwell on his loss to Margarito or whether the Mexican beat him to a pulp with loaded gloves. "I'm pretty recovered from the Margarito defeat," he said. "I showed the world with my last two victories and I don't have anything else to say about that."

Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, is among those not totally convinced Cotto is all the way back. "Getting knocked out for the first time takes your confidence away," Roach said. "He looked better in the Clottey fight. It was a good one for him and it gave him a little more confidence, but our job is to take that away from him right away."

Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/boxing/cotto_insisting_he_not_damaged_goods_F3MTe6aXU53BV5wFIRWzcM

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