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Cotto Not Giving Up On 135-Pound Bid, P.R. Triple Crown, Other Notes

By Gabrielle Paese

May 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

Fresh from a fourth-round knockout victory over Mexican American Joel Pérez, Top Rank's undefeated junior welterweight prospect Miguel Cotto, heads back into the gym next week to train for his June 28 fight in Puerto Rico versus Rocky Martinez.

His much-talked about drop in weight class from 140 to 135, may not happen until September, but Cotto said this week that he still intends to give it a try.

"This is an experiment. Both divisions are tough but this is something we want to do," said Cotto, who made the decision along with his trainer and uncle, Evangelista Cotto.

The 22-year-old is 15-0, 12 KO at 140 pounds. The reigning WBC, WBA and IBF champion at this weight is Kostya Tszyu. The current WBC champion at 135 pounds in Cotto's stablemate, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Cotto is the first to admit that as a child he has weight problems. But now as an adult, he said his weight is stable at 152-154 pounds.

"I only drop down for the fights, but I don't ever go over that weight," said Cotto. "I eat what I want but I eat well."

Top Rank vice president Tod DuBoef backs Cotto in his bid, even though it is hardly in the promoter's best interests to have two of its best boxers in the same division.

"It's going to be a project to see how his body responds," said DuBoef. "Obviously, he'd be one of the best at 135 pounds. Maybe he thinks that there's something better for him there or that he'll have more mobility."

However, DuBoef said he doubted Top Rank would pit Mayweather Jr. versus Cotto in the near future.

"I don't think a fight with Cotto would be of interest to Floyd right now," he said. "Miguel is a good draw but he's still coming up."

Cotto, meanwhile, will fight in Bayamón on the Triple Threat Showtime pay-per-view card that will also feature Puerto Ricans Daniel Santos (WBO super welterweight champion) and Eric Morel. Santos will be making a mandatory defense versus No. 1 challenger Fulgencio Zuñiga while Morel will fight Isidro García.

Meanwhile, strawweight Iván Calderón fights WBO champion Eduardo Márquez, of Nicaragua, this weekend on the undercard of the Oscar de la Hoya-Yori Boy Campas bout for his first title shot.

Fed Cup team advances to Group I

Puerto Rico's Federation Cup team of Kristina Brandi, Vilmarie Castellví, Tania Rivera and María Calbetó easily defeated its toughest rival, Venezuela, last week, to earn the right to move up to Group I play from Group II. The team is coached by two-time Olympic gold medallist in doubles, Gigi Fernández.

El Comandante race track to host first leg of P.R. Triple Crown

The Puerto Rico Derby, the first leg of the Puerto Rican Triple Crown, is set for Sunday at El Comandante racetrack in Canóvanas.

Monestrellado, half brother of 2001 P.R. Triple Crown winner Estrellero, is the early favorite for the $100,000 race, which will be run over the 1 1/16 mile.

The Derby will be Monoestrellado's debut at the distance, but owner Wilfredo Alvarez, said the race will be more about how jockey Juan Carlos Díaz can manage the horse than about the longer distance.

"His jockey will have the chance to put him in a good position before the first turn. He doesn't have the early speed like the other horses in the race," Alvarez said. "But he was bred to run over a mile."

Monoestrellado has four wins in seven starts and drew the ninth post position. Imbuias Son, a colt by Runaway Groom-Imbuias Pajoqui, clocked 1:48.4 for the mile and sixteenth five weeks ago and is expected to challenge Monoestrellado. He will be ridded by Wilfredo Rohena.

"There were no races for him in the month of April, so we decided to take him straight to the Derby," said Imbuias Son trainer Julio Díaz Jr. "His last morning workout told us that he is ready."

Madero de Marfín, Anamu and Don Cabo are all expected to challenge. Also entered are Despreciado, Don Frao, Edwin Joel C. and Mediterraneo.

Top baseball prospects to showcase talent for big-league scouts

Puerto Rico's top 17-year-old baseball prospects will get a chance to strut their stuff for major league scouts this weekend in Caguas at the "Tournament of Excellence," an all-star display of teen talent put together by Colorado Rockies scout Jorge Posada, father of the Yankees catcher.

The four-day tournament features players from the island's top five youth leagues, including Boy's Baseball, Palomino, Coliceba juniors, American Legion and Connie Mack.

It was in these leagues that virtually all of Puerto Rico's major leaguers got their start.

An All-Star team from each league will feature 23 players, 11 pitchers and 12 position players.

Since 1989, Puerto Rican prospects must enter Major League baseball's system via the stateside draft. Puerto Rican players, like their stateside counterparts, must also have graduated from high school. Dominican and Venezuelan players, by contrast, are not subject to MLB's first-year player draft.

Puerto Rico hasn't had a first-round selection in three years. In the year 2000 the Toronto Blue Jays selected Miguel Negrón in the first round.

In terms of drafted players who make it all the way to the major leagues, Puerto Rico ranks third among all of the United States and Canada, behind Florida and California.

Gabrielle Paese is the Assistant Sports Editor at the San Juan Star. She is the 2000 recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at

Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.

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