Miguel Cotto has New York City on his side against Austin Trout
A home-field advantage is rarely spoken of in boxing. With the majority of major fights hosted by casinos, they do not often have that hometown feel the way a Game 7 at Yankee Stadium does.
Not so for Miguel Cotto and Madison Square Garden.
On Saturday night, Cotto makes his eighth appearance in the building once known as "The Mecca of Boxing." Cotto (37-3) challenges Austin Trout (25-0) for the WBA junior middleweight title.
A Cotto fight at the Garden is an experience. The crowd fulfills all the requisite cliches -- energetic, electric, thunderous, intimidating. Add loyal to that list. New York City's large Puerto Rican population makes up the majority of the sellout crowd when Cotto fights at the Garden. It was broadcast on Showtime recently that the gate for Cotto's seven fights at MSG has already exceeded the gates generated by Muhammad Ali at the Garden.
"Every time Cotto fights at the Garden, it's a reminder that the Puerto Rican fans of New York are more emotionally connected and committed to their boxing heroes than just about any other ethnic group," said Showtime boxing analyst Steve Farhood. "Cotto feeds off the energy, which is exactly why he loves fighting at the Garden as much as he does."
Cotto is unbeaten in New York and some of his finest victories have come at the Garden -- Zab Judah, Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito. None of that, however, seems to faze Trout.
"I feel like I'll be pretty comfortable being in the hostile territory," said Trout during a conference call with the media this week. "Really the crowd can only do one thing, and that's to make noise; they can't help him get up, they can't help him punch harder, they can't help him punch faster. I'm expecting and I'm preparing for Miguel to be at his absolute best anyway, so it's not like they can make him better than his best. And I've done all the preparation now, and really the only thing I'm focused on is Miguel Cotto in that ring. I just have to make sure I don't give the crowd anything to cheer about."
Cotto wasn't so sure about Trout's crowd analysis.
"I know what he said, he said he'd been in Panama fighting with a Panamanian guy, he was in Mexico fighting with a Mexican guy, but Saturday he is going to be in New York in Madison Square Garden fighting with Miguel Cotto there," Cotto said. "That's my home, and I know nothing is going to be equal or be the same as he passed through before. That's a special venue, that's a special night for me, and I know he's going to figure it out as soon as he get in there."
Cotto is 3-2 in his last five fights. Those losses came against Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, the two best fighters on the planet. But at the age of 32, some are wondering how much more Cotto has left in the tank. For his part, though, Cotto remains confident in his ability and there has even been talk of a Mayweather rematch should he defeat Trout. While the crowd is nice, it's not the difference between victory or defeat.
"At the end of the road only just the referee and myself are going to be inside the ring [with Trout]," said Cotto. "I don't think about Trout. I'm thinking about myself; I just put myself in the training camp, in the training sessions, and I'm ready.
"What people outside the ring give to me that's from the people here, rooting for me. The people, they are going to be for me this night, and I'm going to win for them."
Danny Jacobs back in action. The Brooklyn fighter and cancer survivor will fight a 10-round middleweight bout against Chris Fitzpatrick on the Cotto-Trout undercard. Jacobs' last bout was a first-round knockout on Oct. 20 on the first boxing card at The Barclays Center in Brooklyn.