Miguel Cotto and Yoshihiro Kamegai are nearing the sunsets of their respective careers. The nearly 37-year-old Cotto has fought pro 16 1/2 years while the 34-year-old Kamegai is nearing the 12-year mark. They've fought a combined 77 times and scored 57 knockouts. Both are also coming off career-long layoffs -- 21 months for Cotto, 350 days for Kamegai. They both endured fights that challenged their toughness (L 12 Saul "Canelo" Alvarez for Cotto, RTD 8 in Kamegai's physical rematch with Jesus Soto-Karass). When the two veteran boxers face each other on August 26, the next step for the winner may be unclear. However, the path for the loser is defined: retirement.
Although Cotto was 35 when he fought Alvarez, his ring smarts and toughness made the Mexican's margin of victory (119-109, 118-110, 117-111) appear far wider than reality. Cotto was the more active fighter as he averaged 52.4 punches per round to Alvarez's 40.3, and he was the better jabber (31.2 thrown/4.5 connects per round to Alvarez's 15.5/3.1, resulting in a 54-37 connect lead). But Alvarez, whose nickname translates to "cinnamon," was more accurate in all phases (32%-21% overall, 20%-15% jabs, 40%-30% power) and thus led 155-129 overall and 118-75 power.
The round-by-round breakdowns revealed a slim 6-5-1 lead for Alvarez in total connects but a 9-3 bulge in landed power shots, which, along with Alvarez's youth and obvious star power, may account for the wider scoring. Up until then, Cotto's pairing with Freddie Roach produced what many called a career resurrection after his dismal decision loss to Austin Trout. In out-pointing Sergio Martinez to win the lineal middleweight crown and in blowing out Delvin Rodriguez and Daniel Geale, Cotto made the most of his 40.5 punches per round by landing a combined 49% of his total punches, 44% of his jabs (11.6 thrown/5.1 connects per round) and 51% of his power shots.
Still, even as he won almost every round and scored seven knockdowns, Cotto's absorbed 38% of their power shots, which, given that Alvarez landed only 30% of his hooks, crosses and uppercuts, indicated that figure reflected Cotto's confidence in his own chin rather than a sign of diminishing reflexes. That said, how will those reflexes be at age 36 and coming off a loss and a 21-month hiatus?
There's an 'O' in Yoshihiro, but There's No 'D'
While offense is Kamegai's stock and trade, his defense suffers because of it. Kamegai has shown a propensity to be drawn into high-contact firefights as he and his foes average a combined 151.5 punches per round (67.4 for Kamegai, 84.1 for his foes), well above the combined 112.8 division average (56.4 times two).
In the rematch with Soto Karass, Kamegai's most recent fight, they fired 169.5 punches per round (81.5 for Kamegai, 88 for Soto-Karass). Moreover, Kamegai landed an insanely high 40.5 total punches per round (more than double the 17.0 super welterweight average) and 36.5 power shots per round (triple the 12.1 division norm) while prevailing 50%-34% overall and 55%-39% power en route to an eight-round corner stoppage. Even now, Cotto promises to present a far more elusive target -- and a much more intelligent one, too.
Inside The Numbers
Cotto landed 25.9% of his jabs in his last ten fights, 5.4% higher than middle average, and 37.9% of his power shots. (Opponents landed 38.6% of their power shots.)
Kamegai is busy, averaging 67.4 punches per round in his last six fights, putting up above average offensive numbers. He did so with a price, as opponents landed 42.7% of their power punches and 29.3 punches per round- 12.6 more than the middle. avg. Kamegai did land 40.7% of his power shots and 21.1 power shots per round- 9.2 more than the middleweight avg. 77% of Kamegai's thrown punches are power shots (CompuBox avg.: 58.5%), and 85.1% of his landed punches are power shots (CompuBox avg.: 72%)
Cotto may be rusty, but he still possesses far more ring craft than Kamegai, whose swarming style seems made for Cotto's versatility and accuracy. A late-round TKO is possible, but he'll likely score a big points victory that will likely lead to one last big fight.