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Cotto Shows Why He’s Top Rank’s Top Prospect

By Gabrielle Paese

July 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

What a treat it was to see Top Rank prospect Miguel Cotto knock out Rocky Martinez in the second round before 12,000 of his most devoted fans last weekend at Bayamon’s Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum.

Cotto (now 16-0, 13 KO) opened a gash just over Martinez’s right eye in the first round, leaving the veteran journeyman blinking away blood for the rest of the round. Cotto finished him off in the second with a left hook to the body at 2:42. Cotto never even broke a sweat. Martinez (now 38-9-1) went to the canvas for the first time in his career. His only two previous TKO losses were due to bloody cuts that forced those fights to be stopped.

The Latin Fury card was a chance for Top Rank to showcase Cotto, who should get a title shot as early as spring 2004, according to Top Rank president Bob Arum. After two clear, but boring, title defenses on the undercard (WBO junior middleweight Daniel Santos won a decision over Colombia’s Fulgencio Zuniga while WBA flyweight champ Eric Morel safely decisioned Isidro "Chino" Garcia), Cotto gave his fans the action they came to see.

Top Rank and HBO pay-per-view put the fight card on for the first time from Puerto Rico, hoping to cash in on a growing Latino market that is estimated to make up 20 percent of U.S. boxing fans. DuBoef said the pay-per-view numbers aren’t in yet, but sales in Puerto Rico households were "very good."

"From the preliminary numbers we’ve received, we’ll definitely go back," said Top Rank vice president Tod DuBoef. "In fact, we’ll probably make it a regular stop."

Cotto’s next fight, according to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum will be on the undercard of the Sept. 13 Oscar De la Hoya-Shane Mosley Las Vegas fight.

"We’re planning to put Miguel on another HBO card featuring [Floyd] Mayweather in November and we’re talking with the people at Madison Square Garden about the possibility of Miguel headlining a card there with a lot of local guys," said Arum.

Arum would not reveal Cotto’s future rivals, except for mentioning the

possibility of a fight versus Victoriano Sosa and "a blockbuster opponent

who is a former world champion."

With Cotto sticking to 140 and Top Rank stablemate Floyd Mayweather talking about moving up from 135 to 140, Arum said these are

exciting times.

"Miguel’s always been confident, in fact as far as toughness is concerned

there is nobody in his weight division who is his equal," said Arum. "all

he needs now is to gain a lot of different experiences with boxers with a

lot of different styles so he can handle any fighter.

"With his decision to remain at 140 and not go down to 135 we have a lot

going on in this weight division," said Arum. "Mayweather is talking about

going up in weight to 140 and there is Vivian Harris, Kostya Tszyu, Zab

Judah, Sharmba Mitchell, [Marcus] Corley. There’s going to be great

competition over the next couple of years."


Calero’s season cut short

Bad break for St. Louis Cardinals reliever Kiko Calero. Calero, 28, who was enjoying his first major league season after languishing in Triple A despite worthy of promotion, ruptured the tendon under his right kneecap last week during the Cardinals’ 13-9 win over Kansas City, the very team that kept him down all those years.

Cardinals’ team doctor, George Paletta, said the injury ends Calero’s season, but not his career. Calero was 1-1 with one save and a 2.82 ERA in 26 games this season, giving up 12 runs on 29 hits in 38 1-3 innings. He had 51 strikeouts and walked 22.

He made one start on June 16, striking out nine in five innings against Milwaukee.

"This is a huge blow for us," manager Tony La Russa told the media. "He was so versatile. You're talking about a guy who was a spot starter, who could close, who could do a lot of things for us. This is a big injury."

Alomar brothers together again

The Chicago White Sox gave the Alomar brothers, Roberto and Sandy, a chance to play together on the same team for the third time in their major league careers this week after the White Sox acquired Roberto from the Mets for three minor leaguers and cash considerations.

The two brothers started their careers playing two seasons together for the San Diego Padres in 1988 and 1989. They were reunited in 1999 in Cleveland, playing two seasons together with the Indians.

Alomar, 35, is hitting .262 (69-263) with an on-base percentage of .336 in 73 games with the Mets in 2003. The switch hitter has two home runs, 22 RBI and six stolen bases. Alomar is a career .302 (2,256-8,649) batter with 203 home runs, 1,093 RBI and 468 stolen bases in 16 seasons with San Diego (1988-90), Toronto (1991-95), Baltimore (1996-98), Cleveland (1999-01) and the Mets (2002-03). He was named to 11 consecutive All-Star teams from 1991-2001.

Harrison still on track

Puerto Rico’s track and field team heads to Grenada this weekend to compete in the Central American-Caribbean Athletics Championships, the last chance for many to qualify for the Pan Am Games.

The island’s best prospect for a track medal, Yvonne Harrison, once again broke her own 400-meter hurdles record last week during a Grand Prix meet in Poland. Harrison was clocked in 55.03 seconds and lost the race to South Africa’s Zurita Fabrio. Her time ranks her eighth in her event in the world.

Swimmers gear up for Pan Am Games

With men’s and women’s water polo teams, 12 swimmers, one diver and a synchronized swimming duet, Puerto Rico’s swim team headed to the Pan Am Games this August will be one of its biggest yet.

"The addition of the women’s water polo team, which was just cleared to compete by the High Performance Athletes Committee, I would have to say that we have more swimmers than for any Pan Am Games in recent memory," said P.R. Swimming Federation president Jose Morales.

The swimming team includes Ricky Busquets, Andrew Livingston, Arsenio Lopez, Eduardo Oliver, Maran Cruz and Hiram Carrion. The women’s team features Emily Plummer, Solimar Mojica, Gretchen Gotay, Vanessa Martinez and Patricia Jimenez. Angelique Rodriguez will compete in diving while Luna del Mar Aguilu and Leilani Torres are the synchro swim duo, who will compete along with men’s and women’s water polo teams.

Busquets, Livingston and Lopez will get their feet wet July 10-24 when they compete in the World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

"The Pan Am Games are a tough call because this hemisphere has swimming powerhouses like Canada and the United States," said assistant coach Fernando Delgado. "Then you have Brazil, Argentina, even Cuba. It’s not easy."

Puerto Rico’s best performance at a Pan Am Games was in 1991 in Cuba. The island swimmers took home eight medals, five silver and three bronze. Vivian Alberty added two medals in diving, one gold, one bronze and the men’s water polo team won bronze.

Puerto Ricans have not medaled in Pan Am Games swimming (five disciplines) since 1991.

"We have not made any improvement in 12 years," said Delgado. "You can argue that we’re a small island but we’ll always have that argument. My opinion is that senior level swimming is not a priority here."

Puerto Rico’s top-level swimmers, Busquets, Lopez and Livingston, all train in the United States.

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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