by Hamilton Nolan
It seems impossible that Miguel Cotto is only 32. His peers atop the list of “Most Popular Veteran Boxers in the World” are all in their late 30s. Cotto (37-4) has the disposition of an old man, a kind of grim and quiet nature borne of many, many wars. And he has seen more than enough wars for a single career. He’s walked through wars that would have retired an ordinary fighter long ago. Still he is able to not only fight on, but to thrive, and sometimes to conquer. Perhaps he will regret this fact down the road.
After being beaten to a bloody pulp by Antonio Margarito (who may have been using loaded hand wraps) in 2008, it would have been reasonable for Cotto to retire. Instead, he came back to easily beat Margarito three years later. After being brutally dismantled by Manny Pacquiao in 2009, it would have been reasonable for Cotto to retire. Instead, he went on to fight the only fighter more famous than Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, in 2012, and gave him the hardest fight he’d had in years. It would have been reasonable for Cotto to retire after that, having climbed (but not conquered) the two highest mountains in the sport. Instead, he carried on against the talented but unheralded Austin Trout--who beat him last December, in a display of canny prowess that disappointed those who considered it a stepping stone back to the top for Cotto, who remains one of Puerto Rico’s greatest boxing heroes.