Foreman heroic in defeat to Cotto at Yankee Stadium

Israeli super welterweight champion loses first title defense after injuring knee in seventh round.

By JOSEPH D. ROBBINS, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
June 7, 2010 07:06
4 minute read.
MIGUEL COTTO (left) and Yuri Foreman pose together

yuri foreman cotto 311. (photo credit: AP)

 
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NEW YORK – Yuri Foreman entered the ring at Yankee Stadium on Saturday night to the sound of a shofar blowing, with a title belt by his side and an Israeli flag on his back.

He was a world champion, standing tall on two feet.

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When the former Haifa resident left the ring, hobbled by a destroyed knee, he was a former champion, having lost to Miguel Cotto by technical knockout 42 seconds into the ninth round.

Although he lost his WBA super welterweight crown, Foreman gained tens of thousands of fans, as his true colors of courage and heart shown brightly for all to see.

Foreman’s logo is a black and yellow Star of David filled with the head of a lion.

On the night of his first professional loss in 30 fights, Yuri Foreman showed he has the heart of a lion.

The key moment in his first title defense came in the seventh round when Foreman attempted a “cut” or lateral, side-to-side movement. Untouched by Miguel Cotto and unmolested by anything on the mat, Foreman’s right knee buckled and his leg gave out, sending him crashing to the mat in a heap of pain.



With valiant effort, Foreman limped around the ring before telling referee Arthur Mercante Jr. that he was able to continue.  The fight went on, although Foreman was visibly limping and unable to move on his right leg.

This was a boxing death sentence for a fighter who is known for dancing around and tactically picking apart his opponents.

Fighting on one leg, there was nothing Foreman could do to stop the hard-punching Cotto, who exerted his will and punished Foreman’s swelling right eye and bleeding nose.

Cotto was clearly delighted with the final result.

“I proved this night, everybody who said Miguel Cotto was finished, everybody failed,” he said.

Controversy ensued in the eighth round, as Foreman trainer Joe Grier threw a towel into the ring to stop the fight. 

Although Foreman was holding his own at the time in spite of his right knee, Grier said that he “knew it was a serious injury” and he “wanted him to leave with some dignity.”

As throwing in a towel is symbolic for defeat and usually ends boxing matches, the ring filled with supporters who believed the fight to be over.

The ring was then cleared after the referee decided that it was “a great fight” and the bout should continue.

“You see white towel and you think it was over,” Foreman said. “I didn’t want it to be over.”

Empty of everyone but the fighters and the referee, the fight resumed with Cotto continuing to pressure Foreman and force him to put weight on his injured right knee.

A brilliant plan drawn up by hall of fame trainer Emmanuel Steward and expertly executed by Cotto, Foreman’s ability to defend himself and strike back lessened as the round continued.

By the time the eighth round ended, Foreman could barely walk back to his corner and the end was visibly near. 

Forty two seconds later, Foreman crumpled to the floor after a body shot to his side and Mercante Jr. ended the fight.

While it was a big body shot, it was not a knockout punch, and it was clear that the fight had been called due to Foreman’s crippled knee and the lack of mobility that accompanied it.

Foreman was losing on all three scorecards when he slipped in the seventh round, but it was not what happened up until that point in the fight that will be remembered by those who witnessed it.

Rather it was the heart shown by the champion, validating the saying as truth.

“I was making side to side movement and it gave out,” Foreman said of his right knee. “It was a lot of pain, a lot of sharp pain. Couldn’t do a lot of moves.”

Cotto will receive a guaranteed $2 million for the fight — though he'll have to give up his shoes, which are headed to the baseball Hall of Fame. Foreman was guaranteed $750,000.

After the fight the referee called Foreman “a true champion” and “a great kid,” saying he had the, “true heart of a champion.”


Similarly, HBO Sports’ Max Kellerman said that he thought Foreman had “gained more fans with this one loss than all of his wins combined.”

For two rounds Foreman battled a three-time champion, fighting on one leg, his mobility erased. 

For two rounds Foreman took a beating, refusing to give up, fighting to keep his dream alive.

Athletes are often viewed as superheroes, capable of feats that fans hope to see but are realistically unable to expect.

For two rounds on Saturday night, Yuri Foreman gave the fans the unexpected, fighting until he could not possibly fight anymore.

Miguel Cotto left Yankee Stadium with his fourth championship belt Saturday night, but it was 29-year-old Yuri Foreman who was the true hero, victorious in defeat.

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