Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) handed Yoshihiro “El Maestrito” Kamegai (27-4-2, 24 KOs) his fifth career loss last Saturday night in pounding out a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision to claim the vacant WBO junior middleweight title at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. This has got to be the easiest title that Cotto has ever won during his career.
The judges scored the Cotto-Kamegai bout 119-109, 118-110, and 120-108 in favor of Cotto. Boxing News Results scored it 120-108. It was clear after round 1, that Kamegai had no chance of winning the fight. He was just a body that Cotto was using in a showcase fight.
Unfortunately, Kamegai looked so dreadful; I think it backfired on Cotto. Instead of his win over Kamegai making him look great, it just made him look someone who had picked an easy opponent in order to pad his record with.
Cotto fought in front of a large crowd of 7,689 boxing fans, many of which were supporting him. It’s surprising that Cotto ever agreed to fight in Carson, California in the first place though, as his fans mostly located on the East Coast in the New York area.
It would appear that Cotto’s reasons for wanting to fight Kamegai in the Carson, California area might be to give him visibility in the area so that when he faces the winner of the Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin fight, they’ll be more interested in seeing him fight one of them. Canelo and Golovkin are both popular in Southern California.
Cotto gave poor Kamegai, 34, a real beat down in blasting away at the tall, slow and weak fighter for 12 rounds. 5’7” Cotto lacked the power to hurt Kamegai, who has a great chin. Cotto might have had a better chance of scoring a knockout if he wasn’t moving so much. Cotto was constantly moving his feet, trying to be elusive so he wouldn’t have to feel the sting of Kamegai’s shots.
To be sure, Kamegai has the speed and size of Antonio Margarito. He also had the same slow, plodding style that Margarito used to defeat Cotto in their first fight in 2008. What Kamegai lacked, however, was Margarito’s high volume attack. Margarito never stopped throwing punches in his first fight against Cotto, and he eventually wore him down in the 11th round to get a TKO.
“I felt so much frustration not being able to land any of my punches,” said Yoshihiro Kamegai. “I could not catch him at all. I couldn’t catch him at all. He is such a talented legend, and I am so glad I got the opportunity to fight him.”
Well, one reason why Kamegai couldn’t catch Cotto was he wasn’t using his jab in the fight. Despite being the taller fighter, Kamegai was moving in close to the shorter, 5’7” Cotto, and putting himself in a position where he was getting caught with a lot of shots.
Cotto was frequently giving Kamegai a hard push when he would move in close. Cotto would then either nail Kamegai with a shot after he pushed him or he would move laterally to avoid his punches. Cotto has the better jab, so he was dominating on the outside as well as on the inside. Cotto was hittable, but Kamegai was just too limited to know how to do it. A good junior middleweight like Jermell Charlo, Erickson Lubin, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout or Jarrett Hurd would have had a field day against a short old guy like Cotto. Those guys know how to fight, and they have a lot of power.
Cotto already lost to Trout, and he’s not even the best of that bunch. Cotto is a good fighter, but he’s clearly below those guys, which you can argue is the reason why he didn’t pick any of those guys to fight. Miguel wanted to fight Kamegai, so he picked him rather than one of the contenders that would have a chance of beating him. It’s smart, but dumb of HBO to agree to the terrible mismatch.
It might be worth it in the end for HBO to have agreed to televise Cotto’s fight against soft touch Kamegai. Yeah, a lot of boxing fans likely didn’t tune in to watch Cotto fight Kamegai, but at least there’s a good chance that Cotto will fight someone good in his next fight if he ends up facing the Canelo vs. GGG winner. If he doesn’t fight one of those guys, then hopefully he’ll fight former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux. That’s a fight that boxing fans would like to see.
Lemieux would show Kamegai exactly how you hit Cotto. You start by actually throwing punches instead of plodding forward and standing in front of him looking helpless the way that Kamegai was doing. I hate to say it, but Kamegai fought like someone that shouldn’t be rated in the top 200. He looked like a 3rd tier journeyman. I wasn’t impressed in the past when I saw Kamegai lose to Robert Guerrero and fight to a draw against journeyman Jesus Soto Karass. Kamegai looked bad against both of those fighters.
“I tried to do my best, and I think I did that tonight,” said Cotto. “I am happy with my performance. Kamegai is a tough fighter and opponent. It was during round five or six that I knew he was going to make it to the 12 rounds. Come December 31, I will retire. I’ve done it all. I’m 36 going on 37, and I think I’ve come to the end of my career. I will fight once more in December. I’ll let Freddie [Roach] tell you who I want.”
When Cotto says Kamegai is a “Tough fighter,” I think he means he can take a beating. That’s about all I could see that was useful in Kamegai’s performance last night. He took a real beating and kept coming forward to take more punishment. Cotto never had to worry abou getting hit back by anything meaningful because he had a guy that wasn’t in his class.
Cotto was able to push off on Kamegai, and lower his head to ram him in the face with it without the referee stepping in and taking points away for the fouling. Kamegai was out there on his own having to try and deal with a guy that had the power, speed, mobility, experience and the talent advantage over him. Cotto’s pushing off was just one extra that he had going for him.
It’s too engaged referee wasn’t assigned to the fight. At least we would have seen a slightly better fight. It’ll be fun to see if Cotto tries to use pushing off against the winner of the Canelo vs. Golovkin fight. I don’t think that style of fighting is going to work. If Cotto tries to shove Golovkin around the ring all night like he did Kamegai, he’s going to be in trouble fast. Cotto has to bring a lot more to the fight than just shoving and lowering his head like a Billy goat.
“We want the winner of Canelo-GGG,” said Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach.
WBC super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas (30-0, 22 KOS) beat Ronny Rios (28-2, 13 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision. The scores were 118-110, 118-110 and 115-113.
Vargas needs to face better opposition in the future like Guillermo Rigondeaux. That would be a great fight. Rios was too safe of a pick for him. Vargas was at his best in his previous fight against Gavin McDonnell, who he beat in front of his own boxing fans in the UK.
“We came here to take the belt back home, even if that means that we didn’t get the knockout,” said Rey Vargas. “Rios was definitely an intelligent and skillful fighter. He got me with some head shots that threw me off, and he was of an elite level when it came to his boxing. We definitely need to go back and refine our style.”