Canelo vs Cotto: Best Fight In History of Mexico vs Puerto Rico?

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By: Steve Gallegos

From Sanchez vs Gomez to Chavez vs Camacho to De La Hoya vs Trinidad, Mexico vs Puerto Rico has been one of the most storied rivalries in boxing. On 11/21/15, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Miguel Cotto renew that rivalry in the biggest fight between Mexico and Puerto Rico in the past decade and a half. As always, you have a clash of styles, personalities, fan bases and on paper, the end result can only be fireworks.

Miguel Cotto has been one of boxing’s most proven warriors over the last decade or so. He’s been in many memorable fights whether he’s won or lost. No matter how many times he’s been counted out, he always climbs off the canvas and rallys back as he’s become a 4-division champion. Canelo Alvarez is the future of boxing and is the biggest star in the sport next to Mayweather and Pacquiao. He’s a young, handsome, red headed hispanic who has female fans oohing and awwing in a way we haven’t seen since the days of Oscar De La Hoya.

Both fighters are exciting punchers who can also box and neither are ever in a bad fight. Canelo’s strenghths are that he has a mean right hand and his defense has improved lately which gives him the ability to be elusive when he has to. His biggest weakness is stamina. Over the course of a long fight, he can tend to fade late and it can be crucial should the fight go to a decision.

Miguel Cotto’s strenghth is that he has a good jab and a devastating left hook, particularly to the body. Since hooking up with Freddie Roach, Cotto has once again become an aggressive puncher. The downside to this aggressive style is that he may find himself in a dangerous fire fight in which he can get hurt. He is 34 years old, but with the many up’s and downs to go along with the wars that he’s had, you never know what night he’s gonna get old.

The story of the fight is gonna be Canelo’s right hand vs Cotto’s left hook. For this reporter, the slight edge goes to Canelo based on his youth and punching power. If Cotto can get his jab going to set up his left hook, then he can turn the odds in his favor. We can all make assumptions as to who has the edge and who’s going to win; however we won’t know until they face off on 11/21/15. The worst case scenario is that we get a chess match like De La Hoya vs Trinidad which doesn’t live up to the hype or we can get a barn burner like Juanma Lopez vs Orlando Salido. For fight fans, we’re hoping for the latter.

Forgotten Legends: Tracy Harris Patterson

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By: Steve Gallegos

To be the son of a legend in boxing has it’s up’s and down’s. Some fighters get opportunities and breaks that they wouldn’t have gotten or don’t deserve because of their famous name. There was however one fighter who created a name for himself by coming up the hard way. That fighter was former two-time champion Tracy Harris Patterson.

Standing at only 5’5 1/2, Patterson was a little big man with excellent skill and power and he was a fan favorite amongst fight fans in the 1990’s. Tracy Harris was born in Grady, AL and his family would later relocate to New York. It was in New Paltz, NY that an 11 year old Tracy Harris would walk into a boxing gym operated by former two-time Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson. Patterson would get down on his knees so that he could work the mitts with young Tracy. Three years later Floyd Patterson would adopt Harris, thus becoming Tracy Harris Patterson.

The former Heavyweight champion guided his son through an outstanding amateur career in which he twice won the New York Golden Gloves championship. He would turn pro in 1985 at the age of 20 and would go 44-2 with 33 KO’s over the next seven years while claiming the North American Boxing Federation Jr. Featherweight title in 1990. Despite his excellent record as well as having his legendary father in his corner, Patterson didn’t get a shot at a world title until his 47th pro bout when he faced the tough Frenchman Thierry Jacob.

They met on 06/23/92 at the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, NY and it was for the WBC Super Bantamweight title. Patterson came out throwing bombs in the first round, rocking Jacob and dropping him just before the bell. Jacob got up but was badly hurt. Patterson wasted no time in the second round as he went for the kill, putting Jacob down again, causing referee Arthur Mercante Jr. to stop the bout. Tracy Harris Patterson was finally a world champion and it was the first time that a son of a former champion would claim a world title.

Patterson would get a stiff test in his first title defense 5 1/2 months later when he fought the legendary Daniel Zaragoza of Mexico to a draw. Patterson would successfully defend his title three times over the next year, which included a technical decison win over Zaragoza in a rematch after the fight was stopped in the seventh round due to cuts. It was in his fifth defense of his title that he would suffer his first setback in five years as he dropped a close split decision to Hector Acero-Sanchez.

After the loss to Acero-Sanchez, Patterson made the very difficult decision to cut ties with father Floyd Patterson, who had trained him since he was a teenager. He then hired world class trainer Tommy Parks and after winning his next two bouts, he was back in line for a title shot, this time against undefeated Eddie Hopson.

The two met on 07/09/95 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, NV and it was for the IBF Jr. Lightweight championship. Many were wondering if Patterson had brought his power up to 130 lbs. Patterson would quickly answer that question as he blasted Hopson in two rounds. Just as his legendary father had done before him, Tracy Patterson was now a two-time world champion. The glory would however be short lived.

In his first title defense, Patterson faced a young, determined slugger named Arturo Gatti. They met on 12/15/95 at Madison Square Garden and it was on the undercard of Oscar De La Hoya’s lightweight title defense against Jesse James Leija. Patterson got off to a slow start in this bout and was dropped in the second round by a  right uppercut. Throughout the middle rounds, the fight heated up and turned into a exciting, back and forth slugfest. Patterson would rally late, putting together good combinations while causing both of Gatti’s eyes to swell. Despite a strong finish, Patterson would come up short, losing a unanimous decision.

The fight was one of the most exciting bouts of 1995 and a rematch wasbinevitable. After winning his next three bouts, Patterson would get another crack at Arturo Gatti when they met on 02/22/97 at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City, NJ and the IBF Jr. Lightweight title was once again at stake. Towards the end of the first round, Patterson rocked Gatti with a short right hand and he began to let his hands go. During this rally, Patterson landed a hard left hand to the body that put Gatti down. Gatti was clearly hurt and looked like he might stay down; however referee Rudy Battle ruled the punch a low blow instead of a knockdown.

Tracy was furious as he knew the blow landed cleanly. Television replays clearly showed the punch landed clean to the body. Rudy Battle didn’t realize at the time that he robbed Tracy Patterson of a possible knockout. Gatti recovered from the shot and the fight continued. With the exception of a brief Patterson rally late in the fight, Arturo Gatti dominated the bout by boxing smart. The end result would be a unanimous decision win for Gatti.

Patterson was humbled in defeat, not blaming the referee for the bogus low blow call. He gave credit to Gatti as he said he was in the ring with a young, hungry warrior. Many felt that Tracy Harris Patterson’s career was done, despite only being 32 years old. Patterson would continue fighting on, determined to get back in the world title hunt by winning his four bouts, however that quest would come to a screeching hault in July of 1998 as he was dominated and stopped by Goyo Vargas in six rounds.

Although he lost to Vargas inside the ring, he gained an even bigger win outside the ring as he reconciled with his father Floyd, whom he didn’t speak to very much in the last four years. He would go 2-2-1 from 1999-2001, retiring with a record of 63-8-2 with 43 KO’s. He was one of the tougher, more exciting little big men of his era. He was a hardworking, blue collar type of fighter that didn’t rely on his father’s name as some fighter’s do today. He instead made his own name and we hope to someday see him inducted into Canastota alongside his legendary father.

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Forgotten Legends: Vassily Jirov

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By: Steve Gallegos

For many in boxing, the Cruiserweight division is known as the waste land before the promise land which is the Heavyweight division; however there was one fighter who put the division on the radar in the early 2000’s. That fighter was VassiliyThe Russian TigerJirov.

Jirov was an exciting, aggressive power puncher with knockout power in either hand. Jirov was born and raised in Balkhash, Kazakhstan and was a decorated amateur who took the gold in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta as well as winning the award for the most outstanding boxer at the olympics. He would turn pro in early 1997 and would go 20-0 with 18 KO’s over the next 2 1/2 years.

He would get his first shot at a world title in 1999 when he met Cruiserweight champion “King” Arthur Williams. They met on 06/05/99 in Biloxi, MS and it was for the IBF Cruiserweight Championship. It was also the first Cruiserweight bout to ever be shown on HBO. Jirov was impressive as he broke Williams down, particularly to the body en route to a seventh round TKO. Vassiliy Jirov was now a world champion.

He would close out the millenium on the undercard of the “Fight Of The Millenium” between Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya and he would score an impressive 10th round KO over “Cowboy” Dale Brown. Jirov would go 9-0 with seven KO’s over the next two years and would successfully defend his title five times, which included a big KO win over the very tough and durable Julian Letterlough.

Jirov would then face the toughest challenge of his career when he faced James “Lights Out” Toney. They met on 04/26/03 at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, CT and it was one of the most anticipated bouts of 2003. Unfortunately for Jirov, Toney’s experience and technique would be the story of the fight as Jirov was dropped in the 12th round and would lose a lopsided unanimous decision.

Jirov would bounce back with two KO wins to close out the year and would move up to Heavyweight. His first bout at Heavyweight was against unbeaten top prospect “Baby” Joe Mesi, who at the time was considered the future of the division. They met on 03/13/04 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Mesi was dominant throughout the bout and appeared to be on his way to an easy decision, however Jirov showed he had Heavyweight power as he dropped Mesi once in the ninth and twice in the 10th. It was a great way for Jirov to close the show and he would come up just a hair short on the judges scorecards as all three judges had the fight scored 94-93 for Mesi.

The shots from Jirov in that fight did further damage to Joe Mesi as he suffered two hematomas on his brain which sidelined him for two years. After proving he had pop at the Heavyweight level, Jirov elected to stay in the division and he would challenge former two-time Heavyweight Champion Michael Moorer. They met on 12/09/04 at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, CA.

Jirov boxed well and dominated Moorer for 8 1/2 rounds, however Moorer learned 10 years earlier against George Foreman, that any fight can be changed with one punch. In the ninth round, Moorer landed a big left hand that put Jirov down. He was able to get up, however he was on wobbily legs and referee Pat Russell would stop the bout. It was a crushing defeat for Jirov and his hopes for potentially fighting for a Heavyweight Championship were crushed.

Jirov would go 5-0-1 with three KO’s from 2005-2009, however he would not challenge for another world title. His record as a professional stands at 38-3-1 with 32 KO’s. His all action style and power brought luster to a very lackluster division in the Cruiserweights. Did his first loss affect him negatively? Did his move to Heavyweight hurt his career. In the end it was a career that had high expectations, only to come up just a tad bit short of meeting or exceeding those expectations.

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