Friday, February 9, 2007


In the end, DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley wouldn’t have had a chance in this one had they let him enter the ring with hatchets instead of gloves and with Lizzie Borden guarding his back.

In a wild swinging brawl against Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto that exceeded everyone’s worst expectations, Corley put forth an inspiring effort that was cut short by a referee that was so hapless he couldn’t even prod the combatants to engage in the obligatory pre-fight handshake.

In a bout that had all the trimmings of a mismatch on paper and on the scales, it really turned out to be a much more entertaining and enlightening fight. It proved once again that no matter what the odds are and what the match-up is, in the sport of boxing anything can happen, and often times it does. Nobody is unbeatable and as HBO’s Larry Merchant once said so eloquently, “There ain’t a horse that can’t be rode or a rider that can’t be throwed.”

Over 10,000 insanely rabid fans crammed themselves into Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico as tonight was a coronation of sorts for Miguel Cotto and a chance for the young Puerto Rican prodigy to soak up the limelight in his own backyard. DeMarcus Corley was brought in as an opponent and was not expected by anyone to make Miguel Cotto struggle in the manner that he eventually had to.

The 30 year-old Corley, 29-3-1(16) KO from Washington D.C. is a person that can best be described as eclectic. He studied sewing in high school, makes his own boxing trunks, and apparently has an affinity for wearing Victoria’s Secret underpants. Despite those feminine qualities, Corley showed tonight that he is still very in touch with his masculine side.

In the other corner was the 24 year-old Cotto who entered the ring with a sparkling record of 22-0(18) KO. Cotto seems intent on continuing his transformation into boxing’s version of "The Incredible Hulk" as he stretches his body to what has to be its limit. Before tonight the young Puerto Rican sensation had mowed down each of his twenty-two challengers with relative ease but at this point in his embryonic career his most certain problem appears to be halting the progress of his ever-growing David Banner-like body.

Cotto eventually scaled the division limit of 140 pounds for tonight’s contest with Corley - but it took him no less than three trips to the scales to hit that magic number. Just before entering the ring twenty-seven hours later, Cotto hopped on the scales and he weighed in at an astonishing 157 pounds. That type of one-day weight gain signifies to everyone that Cotto is a prisoner to saunas and rubber suits and that he must parch himself to the wetness of chalk before official weigh-ins. The day before the fight, Cotto’s face demonstrated the severity of his struggle with making 140 pounds as the skin on his face was so tight and the bones in his cheeks and jaw so prevalent that his head looked a like a skull with candle wax poured down over it. On the other hand, Corley weighed in officially at 137 and by the time he stepped into the ring tonight he had gained only three pounds.

What we really had here tonight was a fight between a 157-pound middleweight and a 140-pound junior welterweight. Whatever the case, Cotto goes about his work with a facial expression best described as somewhere between deadpan and lifeless and tonight he was just as expressive. It all went according to plan for the first two rounds as Cotto stalked Corley and threw punches. When those punches landed they sounded like a car door being slammed shut.

The first round wasn’t thirty seconds old before Corley found himself on the floor, the victim of a flash knockdown after being cuffed behind the head with a left hook. Corley gamely fired back and managed to get in several nice right hands of his own but they really did nothing to halt the younger, stronger man’s advance. Cotto, who walks around the ring with his chin tucked so far down he looks like a guy searching for loose change on the floor, is tough to hit cleanly on the jaw. As a result, Corley fired what turned out to be the punch of the night in an almost accidental fashion. The punch landed high on the head of Miguel Cotto in the third round and it was an electric right hand shot that Cotto never saw coming. Cotto was then short-circuited for the better part of the next two minutes.

This was just the test that all young fighters must endure but nobody thought that Corley would be the one to administer it. Cotto reeled around the ring in a haze and it looked for all the world as though one more well placed punch to head could upset the Puerto Rican’s proverbial apple cart. Strangely, Corley followed up with body punches and only lobbed soft volleys to Cotto’s head that had little power behind them. Corley even backed away a few times when he had Cotto in obvious trouble and languishing on the ropes. It was one of the strangest scenes I have witnessed and I wonder now whether DeMarcus Corley wasn’t reading from some sinister, pre-determined script in which the outcome of this fight was laid out for him in advance.

Afterwards, Corley would admit he made a mistake by not following up. Needless to say, with Corley’s help, Miguel Cotto survived the round and basically picked up where he left off before the disastrous third round nearly swamped him. It was more of the same one-sided punishment and whatever chance DeMarcus Corley had for victory had now drifted hopelessly away.

The fifth round was the beginning of the end for Corley as he was driven into the ropes with an assortment of hooks and uppercuts and he began to absorb some damaging punishment. Corley was put down with a right hand to the head, a left hook to the body, and then Cotto added a small exclamation point by tagging Corley with a glancing left hook while he was down on one knee. Corley was up and in full control of his senses before Cotto was unleashed on him again. Corley backed to the ropes and avoided all of Cotto’s follow-up shots but inexplicably he went down to one knee to get another breather. At this point, the aforementioned hapless referee, Enrique Quinones Falu, just as inexplicably called a halt to DeMarcus Corley’s night. It was over just like that and everyone was robbed of seeing a decent fight reach a decisive conclusion.

Where tonight leaves Miguel Cotto is anyone’s guess and questions abound. The top ranks of fighters in the junior welterweight division are likely still too good for him at this point. If a light punching fighter who was at a seventeen-pound weight disadvantage can hurt Cotto imagine what violent punchers like Kostya Tszyu, Arturo Gatti or Vivian Harris would do.

One has to speculate as to whether Cotto is wilting on the vine while straining to make a 157-pound body stuff itself into a 140-pound skin. Should Cotto be matched with the top fighters of his division now or should he abandon altogether the idea of ever again having to look down at the scales and see 140-pounds?

February 2005

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