Tampa Bay Sports Day

Interesting first fight for a return of boxing at Yankee Stadium

Like the old days Saturday, it will be, because on the same day in New York City there is the traditional Belmont Stakes horse race at Belmont Park. And later in the evening a major championship pro boxing card at Yankee Stadium.

Though Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman are not Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, or Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton, the last fight held at the old Yankee Stadium in 1976, this is historic. Pro boxing has returned to Yankee Stadium, even if it is the new billion dollar building across the street from where the old stadium once was.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum promoter of the Ali- Norton fight was approached by New York Yankees Chief Operating Officer Lonn Trost. “Right after the Pacquiao-Clottey fight in Dallas we discussed this and we are more than pleased,” he said.

Back in March, Manny Pacquiao, the welterweight champion promoted by Arum, successfully defended his title against Joshua Clottey. The event sold more than 40,000 tickets at the new Cowboys football stadium.  So boxing is once again on the grand stage, Yankee Stadium in the Bronx with Cotto and Foreman entering the ring around 11:15 pm on HBO, in right-center field on a raised platform where the ring will be.

Legends of the sport are supposed to be there including champion Boxing Hall of Fame members Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, and Sugar Ray Leonard which describe the magnitude of this event. And Roy Jones Jr. returns at least one more time to analyze the fight on HBO Sports

Of course there is always the possibility of a thunder storm, and supposedly the fans at ringside and media will be protected with a canopy over their heads. But let’s be optimistic, hope the rain stays away and the fists will provide all the action. Foreman against Cotto provides for some interesting boxing theatre,

Cotto (34-2. 28KO’s) the pride of Puerto Rico and three-time world champion challenges the undefeated Foreman (28-0, 8Ko’s) for the WBA super welterweight championship.  It will be a fight that can go either way. And crowd support for both fighters will make it more interesting. Cotto draws a huge contingent of Puerto Rican boxing fans and Foreman, a future rabbi from Brooklyn, has his supporters. He will have a special religious entrance and arrive at the stadium well after sun down.

For Cotto it is a more significant fight. He is moving up in weight, though that is not a dilemma because Cotto has preferred fighting at 147 or a few pounds more. But the brutal loss to Pacquiao last December is still a fight he has to overcome. So going for the knockout is something Cotto seeks. A loss could spell doom and a realistic chance that big time fights will no longer be a part of his career,

Cotto has stated that there was a possibility of three more fights.  But he has had an intense training camp, and his new trainer, the renowned Emanuel Steward will be in his corner. Steward says he has Cotto fighting like the old Cotto who once dominated the welterweight division with impressive wins over Zab Judah and Shane Mosley.

Foreman is bigger and maybe stronger and Steward prepared for such an opponent when he got the call to be Cotto’s trainer. The ironic element is Foreman’s management team requested Steward for this fight, but the money wasn’t right and Steward has always admired Cotto.

“Right now, the way Miguel is looking, it is going to be very hard for Yuri to stay away from Miguel for 12 rounds because Miguel is looking very fast with his feet right now,” said Steward the other day. “And his combinations are wicked, and his punching is awesome so I think it’s going to be a great fight,”

Arum also thinks this will be a great fight and a promotion that could lead to more in the Bronx. He has been glowing the past few days, comparing boxing and the Yankees when it comes to great spectacles at Yankee Stadium.

“You do fights like this in big stadiums where people can afford tickets and get 25, 000 or more,” said Arum. “The fight supports two groups of people that support their champion,” he commented referring to the Puerto Rican and Jewish population of New York City. “You can do that in boxing and be very successful.”

So many story lines for this fight and the possibility that there will be many more championship fights to come out of this one at Yankee Stadium. Foreman has nothing to lose and Cotto needs to regain his prominence as a mega star in the sport.

Cotto has not said much and could very well be doing the talking in the ring. He appears relaxed, confident, and in great shape. If there are no thunder storms the first historic bout at the new Yankee Stadium begins at 6:45pm, four rounds with super lightweight Christian Martinez (3-0) of the Bronx opposing (2-1) Jonathan Cuba of Manhattan.

And then there will more prelims and a 10-round super welterweight bout that features undefeated 22-0 Joe Greene of New York against 27-0 Vanes Martirosyan of Glendale California.

Then it will be the main event, Cotto against Foreman. And then it will be official. Boxing has returned to Yankee Stadium and Cotto winning the bout via split decision and Steward playing a big role in his corner.

e-mail Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com