Miguel Cotto could never be criticised for inactivity. A busy champion who fights three or four times a year and is willing to face whatever mandatory opponent sanctioning bodies demand is a rarity in the modern world. However, one wonders whether his next fight, against European veteran Oktay Urkal, is just one obligation too many.
Urkal is a long-standing contender but has failed to raise the pulse of European audiences in a long career add back to back defeats to Vivian Harris and any luster in his moderate resume is surely eradicated, and yet here we are – he has a shot at one of the biggest cash cows in world boxing.
I remember when Cotto first emerged in the consciousness of British fight fans about four or five years ago in the prelude to one of Ricky Hatton’s interminable WBU Light-Welterweight fights. The two were projected as the future of the division, and two red-hot fighters who would inevitably meet, sooner rather than later. It was about that time Hatton or Cotto should have been facing Urkal, not now. Back then he was fresher and more in line with the then horizons of the two young punchers. In 2007, with both Hatton and Cotto established as premier figures in the sport – Urkal’s appearance has the feeling of a long departed soap actor walking back on set. The storyline has changed and he no longer fits.
I admire Cotto’s activity and willingness to just fight without the public deliberation about who or when he will be fighting that precedes every Ricky Hatton opponent, but Urkal represents a step back or, at least, a failure to step up for the Puerto Rican.
He does of course have a tantalising match-up with
Margarito [sorry Judah] beyond this fixture and it as that elite level that I would suggest Cotto should really be aspiring to and indeed competing at. The chief support for their WBA Welterweight bout features Edison Miranda, him of the concussive punch, versus Allan Green in a bout between two emerging stars at Middleweight. If only we’d seen a little more of that type of ambitious, competitive matchmaking in the once talent packed 10 stone division.