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New York Daily News

Cotto Punching Ticket


April 9, 2003
Copyright © 2003 New York Daily News, L.P. All rights reserved. 

Felix Trinidad Jr. has walked away from boxing, leaving a considerable talent drain in the sport. His departure has also created a bigger question: Who will assume the mantle as the next great Puerto Rican champion?

Miguel Cotto, a junior welterweight who was on the Puerto Rican 2000 Olympic boxing team, is expected to be that man.

"I don't really feel any pressure about that," Cotto said this week from his home in Caguas, Puerto Rico. "It just motivates me more to be a great fighter."

Cotto (14-0, 11 KOs) has a long way to go to reach the heights that Trinidad did. But Todd duBoef of Top Rank Boxing, Cotto's promoter, believes Cotto has all the qualities and the skill to reach that level. He already has victories over former lightweight world champ Cesar Bazan and tough veteran Justin Jukko.

"He was a very heralded amateur in Puerto Rico," duBoef said. "He's a very humble man, very personable and very much like Tito."

Away from boxing, Cotto is a 22-year-old college student with a wife and three children. He runs in the morning, goes to classes and then trains in the afternoon.

DuBoef said Cotto already has a great following in Puerto Rico.

"With Oscar (De La Hoya), we would average 7,500 (Pay-Per-View) buys in Puerto Rico," duBoef said. "We had Cotto on the De La Hoya- Fernando Vargas card and we did 37,000 buys in Puerto Rico."

Marketing Cotto in New York would be a natural. Trinidad owned New York when he was boxing. But Cotto hasn't been on that stage because there haven't been any major shows in New York recently.

DuBoef said they tried to get the Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Cotto doubleheader at Madison Square Garden, but the site fee was too low. Instead that show went to Fresno, Calif., where Cotto will meet Joel Perez on April 19.

Cotto is looking to create his own ripples. He surprised DuBoef this week by announcing that after the Perez fight he wants to go down to 135 pounds to try to win a lightweight world title and eventually meet Mayweather.

"I will dominate the division because I will be very strong," Cotto said regarding his decision to move down in weight.

It's not the route that Trinidad took. But if Cotto goes down to lightweight and wins a world title, he will be on the road to Trinidad's territory: world championships in three different weight classes.

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