By Joe Thackray [Twitter: @joe_thackray]
Last Saturday night saw Miguel Cotto continue his rich vein of form under new trainer Freddie Roach by successfully defending his WBC middleweight title against former WBA champion, Daniel Geale.
The 34 year old looked impressive as he dispatched Geale inside four rounds in-front of a sold out Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Australian Geale incurred his second defeat in just under twelve months, going down from a trademark Cotto left hook just thirty seconds into round four before being put down again seconds later from a stiff right hand.
The former two time champion bravely got back to his feet before telling referee Harvey Dock that he no longer wanted to continue.
Saturday’s win is the third of a three fight winning streak for Cotto under new trainer Freddie Roach. The Puerto Rican was quoted after the fight as saying that Roach is the best thing to ever happen to his boxing career.
This begs the question, ‘Are we seeing Cotto back at his best?’
After back-to-back losses against Floyd Mayweather Jr and Austin Trout in 2012, Cotto decided it was time for a change and jumped ship to the Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles.
His first outing under Roach came at short notice in a fight with former world title challenger Delvin Rodriguez.
By no means a world beater but undoubtedly awkward, Rodriguez on paper was all wrong for the smaller Cotto, but he made short work of the task, showing glimpses of old and dispatching Rodriguez inside three, one-sided rounds.
His impressive return display, earned him a step up and a shot at lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez the following year.
The fight was long in the making after disputes about which fighter would be delivered as ‘The A side’. Once these fine details had been ironed out, the fight was on.
Cotto was a massive underdog in the fight as this was his first fight campaigning at middleweight. Nevertheless the crowd favourite went on to silence his critics in a masterclass which saw him put Martinez down three times in one round.
The fight was fairly one sided up until the tenth round when Martinez retired on his stool.
This victory, in arguably the toughest fight of his career, saw Cotto become the first ever Puerto Rican boxer to win world titles in four different weight divisions.
After his win over Martinez, Cotto was left looking for his first title defence. There were rumours circulating that a fight between Cotto and Mexican star Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was likely to take place but negations stalled and Cotto moved on in search of other opponents.
That brought us to Saturday night at the Barclays Center. The WBC sanctioned the bout at a catch-weight of 157 pounds, which obviously favoured the smaller, former welterweight Cotto.
There are always going to be people out there who are looking to criticize Cotto because of the catchweight limit, claiming that it put Geale at a massive disadvantage. True, but Miguel Cotto deserves a lot of credit for his performance. He beat a genuine middleweight contender and former world champion and made it look easy.
There is no doubt that Cotto looks completely rejuvenated with Roach in his corner, but surely the acid test will come in the shape of the hard hitting former junior middleweight champion Canelo.
The fight is looking all but officially confirmed as both sides close in on a deal which could easily make each fighter eight figures, and leave the fans extremely happy with a possible fight of the year contender.