Photo by Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
Asked earlier this week why Daniel Geale – last seen on HBO being bludgeoned to defeat by Gennady Golovkin – deserved the opportunity to challenge for Miguel Cotto's lineal middleweight championship on Saturday, the Puerto Rican fighter responded that, “He was the best name on the table, and we always fight the best names.” That elicited some snorts of derision from that bastion of unsolicited criticism, the internet, whose denizens were more than happy to suggest some alternative names: specifically, the aforementioned Golovkin, who will be in attendance ringside at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez.
To be fair to Cotto, however, Geale’s outing against Golovkin was atypical of his career thus far, which has seen him score impressive title wins in Germany and engage in a thrilling contest against Darren Barker. Despite having an unassuming, almost apologetic, personality, Geale has proven himself to be a warrior in the ring – and, moreover, a genuine middleweight, which Cotto categorically states he himself is not. And while he has long been appreciated by his boxing fans for his willingness to take on the most dangerous challenges, Cotto is now entering the stage of his career where he is seeking to tip the balance between risk and reward as much as in his favor as possible.
And so, while he picked a legitimate middleweight for his first title defense, he did so with a caveat: that middleweight would have to weigh in at 157 pounds, three pounds inside the middleweight limit. Cue much grumbling – again unsurprisingly from the internet, but also (equally unsurprisingly) from Geale’s promoter Gary Shaw, who railed against the requirement at every opportunity during the build-up to the bout.
While such bluster could easily enough be chalked up as anticipatory excuse-making, it also created an undercurrent of uncertainty heading into Friday’s weigh-in, particularly when both Shaw and Cotto's trainer Freddie Roach revealed to media members that there would be no financial penalty if Geale missed the mark. Few if any believed that Geale was the kind of person to miss the weight intentionally, what would happen if he simply couldn’t squeeze enough out of his middleweight frame?
In the event, such speculation was all for naught. Geale weighed in at 157 pounds, right on the contractual button, while Cotto tipped the scales beneath the super welterweight limit, at 153.6 pounds. The 3.4 pounds of weight difference is actually four-tenths of a pound less than the weight advantage Cotto gave away against Sergio Martinez in his middleweight debut a year ago, and that worked out pretty well for him, of course.
Cotto may well not be a real middleweight, but he enters Saturday night’s contest as the champion and he will expect to end it the same way. Should Geale somehow produce the upset, it will be an extraordinary turnaround, a mere 11 months after the night to forget against Golovkin. And the opportunity to execute such a turnaround is one for which, he will almost certainly readily admit, it was well worth losing a few pounds.
Miguel Cotto: 153.6 lbs.
Daniel Geale: 157 lbs.