When Miguel Cotto steps into the ring to defend his WBC middleweight title against Daniel Geale Saturday night at Barclays Center, it will be one day short of the anniversary of the night he wrested it from Sergio Martinez. It's too early to say whether Cotto has grown into a full-fledged 160-pound middleweight after spending most of his career fighting at 147 and 140, but if nothing else, he returns to the ring at age 34 in the best shape of his life.
Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs) displayed that during a workout yesterday afternoon at Gleason's Gym, where he went through an elaborate warm-up lasting nearly an hour and including about 20 minutes of nonstop work with the jump rope before going a few rounds on the mitts with trainer Freddie Roach and then cooling off with another 10-minute session of jump rope.
Describing what the year off did for him mentally and physically, Cotto said, "Most of that is physically. All I did was rest every part of my body. It's healed. I'm fresh, I'm new, and everybody is going to see it this Saturday . . . I feel better. I feel rejuvenated. I feel I can beat anyone in boxing."
Of course, Geale (31-3, 16 KOs), who previously held the IBF and WBA middleweight belts, is the immediate objective. But in boxing, the focus often is on what lies down the road, and most believe Cotto is targeting a fight with Canelo Alvarez that would be a major pay-per-view attraction. At the same time, Gennaday Golovkin has positioned himself as the WBC's No. 1 contender for Cotto's mandatory defense.
"The only guy in my mind right now is Daniel Geale," Cotto said, brushing aside questions about future opponents. "It's the only thing I can think about. After Saturday, I can talk about that, and I can think about anyone else."
As a precaution against a true middleweight such as Geale, Cotto forced the fight to be held at a catchweight of 157 pounds, and he emphasized again Wednesday that he expects Geale to make that weight at Friday's weigh-in. Geale's camp has complained about the tactic, but Cotto reminded everyone at Tuesday's news conference that he made a catchweight of 145 pounds when he fought Manny Pacquiao for the welterweight title in 2009.
What he left unsaid was that he lost that fight on a 12th-round stoppage when he wore down. "Catchweights were our main point to make this fight happen," Cotto said. "We had a contract at 157 pounds. That's the weight I expect him at."
Roach, who was Pacquiao's trainer at the time and still functions in that capacity, frankly acknowledged that the catchweight affected Cotto for that bout. "I brought him down a couple pounds and it made a big difference in the fight," Roach said. "It's been around a lot longer than we think. We're the champion right now, so we can call the shot there and fight at the catchweight because Geale going into the ring is going to be like 175 pounds . . . He knows how to read the contract. If he didn't want it, he could have turned it down."
Making weight obviously is no problem for Cotto, who weighed in at only 155 for the Martinez fight when he knocked the former champ down three times in the first round and was credited with another knockdown in the ninth before it was stopped in the 10th. "I'm ready for Daniel Geale," Cotto said. "We had an excellent camp. We prepared ourselves the best way possible, and I know we're going to beat him."