It was a fight that was always a little more about drama than boxing. Fitting then, that in the end the match itself lived up to the storylines that lead into it.
For the first several rounds the story was the sharpness that Miguel Cotto displayed with both his movement and punches. Famed trainer Manny Steward appeared to have done a great job as Cotto's balance and footwork were greatly improved, and he popped an impressive jab into Foreman's face at will.
Foreman looked a little off balance and uncomfortable. Perhaps a reaction to being on a much bigger stage than he ever had before, or perhaps due to a knee injury (he entered the ring wearing a brace) that would later pop up and be a deciding factor in the fight.
Starting in the third and forth rounds though Foreman seemed to find his comfort zone and the fight became competitive, if not nail-bitingly close. After six, Cotto seemed to have a fairly comfortable lead and it was obvious that while Foreman wasn't out of it, he needed to pick up the pace very soon.
Unfortunately, he never got the chance. His knee buckled as he slipped to the canvas in the seventh round, seemingly ending the fight. As the boxing world got flashbacks to the Paul Williams-Kermit Cintron fight a few weeks back, it appeared another big fight would end on a bizzare injury.
Instead of just saying he wanted to continue though, Foreman showed a huge amount of courage and actually proved he was willing to go on by standing and trying to walk the injury off.
It was obvious that his efforts were futile, however, as he limped and winced with every step. Gamely he fought on, but Cotto definitely could smell the blood in the water. Foreman's best chance at winning had always been his mobility, and after the fall, that part of his game plan was out the window.
To the surprise of many, Foreman continued, trying to fight toe to toe with Cotto. This turned out to be like asking a gazelle to go toe to toe with a lion. Cotto has always been a strong fighter on the inside, and Foreman was forced to play right into his hands.
Thinking their man had had enough, Foreman's corner threw in the towel in the eighth and bystanders rushed into the ring to help him and congratulate Cotto. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. however, had not seen enough. He saw that Foreman did not want to accept his corner's surrender and decided to clear the ring and allow the fight to continue.
Continuing to fight on one leg, Foreman bravely lasted into the ninth round when a Cotto body shot put him down for the last time. With the combination of the knee injury and the pain from the punishment he was taking, this time he was determined by Mercante to be unable to continue
Foreman stated after the fight that as the champion, he never thought of quitting. Admirable, as the knee injury had obviously robbed him of any remote chance he still had at winning. Commentator Max Kellerman correctly noted that he had likely made more fans in this loss than he had in all his previous wins combined.
If he can get that knee (we now know an old injury that has been troubling him for years) healed up properly, Foreman has a great future ahead of him. Perhaps he will never be quite at the same level of a Miguel Cotto, but few are.
Cotto proved just as much about his own character. He did a lot to silence doubters who considered him shot, winning a title in his third weight class. He said after the fight that he wanted to continue on with big name fights, and a rematch with Manny Pacquiao or Antonio Margarito would now be a much more legitimate concept than many would have thought before the fight.
All told, it may not have been the greatest boxing match that the Bronx has ever seen, but it was certainly a memorable way to reopen Yankee Stadium to the sweet science.