Drawing inspiration from fellow Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr., the super welterweight contender is brimming with confidence heading into his 154-pound showdown versus former champion Jermell Charlo Sunday night on FOX.
A few days after Andy Ruiz Jr. pulled off boxing’s biggest heavyweight upset since Buster Douglas KO’d Mike Tyson 29 years ago in Tokyo, Jorge Cota got the call to step in on less than three weeks notice to face former super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo Sunday night, live on PBC on FOX (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Cota, 31, from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, and mostly unknown in the U.S., was still reveling in Ruiz’s stunning upset of previously undefeated, unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua on June 1 at Madison Square Garden. Ruiz, himself a late replacement for Jarrell Miller, was born in the USA to Mexican parents, and became the first fighter of Mexican descent to be crowned as a heavyweight champion.
To say Cota was inspired by Ruiz’s feat would be an understatement. Like most of his countrymen, he was overjoyed and motivated by the miracle at MSG.
“Before [my] opportunity I was very happy for Ruiz and very motivated. He inspired all Mexicans,” Cota said. “And then I got this opportunity and now I’m really motivated, and I want to equal what Ruiz did.”
Charlo was supposed to fight new WBC 154-pound champion Tony Harrison, who withdrew because of an ankle injury, in a rematch of their super welterweight title fight in which Harrison upset Charlo and took his belt on December 22.
It would be a huge deal for Cota, a heavy-handed knockout specialist who has fought mostly in Mexico, to upset Charlo, but would still be a far cry from equaling Ruiz’s KO that shocked the world.
Yet an upset would undoubtedly be Cota’s greatest ring moment, especially since it will be his first time fighting in the boxing capital of the world.
“I feel very happy, because it’s the top of the line for every boxer to be in Las Vegas and fight there,” says Cota, who arrived in Sin City on Tuesday.
Cota (28-3, 25 KOs) is coming off a tough split-decision loss in April at Carson, California, to 24-year-old Jeison Rosario from the Dominican Republic. Cota felt he won that fight. Sampson Lewkowicz, who promotes both fighters, thought the fight was close enough to go either way.
“I would have loved it to be a draw because both fighters are mine,” the promoter said. “I expected them to go for Rosario to be Charlo’s opponent, but after what happened with Ruiz, they went after the Mexican. I believe either one of them would be a good choice to fight Charlo.”
Charlo without a doubt represents the toughest task of Cota’s decade-long professional career, yet the fighter nicknamed “El Demonio” (The Demon) has no fear of the Houston-based twin brother of middleweight Jermall Charlo, who is determined to bounce back from the first loss of his career and the loss of his title belt. But Cota shrugs off the short prep period for the Charlo matchup.
“It was a very disputed loss (to Rosario) and I went right back to the gym and I’m ready for this because I really believe I can win this fight,” Cota says. “I am coming to win. I would not come otherwise.”
“ I’m not God so I can’t say how this fight will finish, but the only thing I know is that the referee will raise my hand as the winner. ” Super Welterweight Contender - Jorge Cota
That kind of heart, Lewkowicz says, is the most important ingredient in the mental side of Cota’s game.
“He will fight like a real Mexican and will go to the end of the line to try to win a fight,” Lewkowicz said.
Cota is trained by the father and brothers of Fernando Montiel, the former three-division champion, and has been under the Montiel family’s guidance for 11 years. He is a well-known figure in Sinaloa, a state which is known as “Mexico’s breadbasket.” Cota, who is married and has a child, bought a farm there and grows limes, which he sells to the restaurants in Los Mochis.
“I wish every fighter could be like that, and save their money for the future,” Lewkowicz said. “He knows that boxing is a short period of making money.”
According to Lewkowicz, Cota is well known in Sinaloa because he helps a lot of boxers from that area, “and he demonstrates how to live right – no drinking, no drugs or alcohol -- and he’s dedicated to his family. That’s very important in our sport.”
So is punching power, and Cota has that in abundance. He says his power is purely natural and added that he did not believe Charlo (31-1, 15 KOs) would disrespect that power, which has accounted for an 81% knockout rate.
Yet Cota has failed against the few top-level fighters he has faced. His perfect 16-0 start to his career, all by knockout, ended in 2012 when fellow Mexican Marco Antonio Rubio, a perennial title contender, stopped Cota in the seventh round.
While he did defeat former Cuban Olympian Yudel Jhonson in 2015, Cota was inactive for 19 months before his next fight in March 2017 against then 21-year-old Erickson “The Hammer” Lubin, who hammered Cota into submission in the fourth round with a mighty left hook.
“He got caught from Lubin, and it was a mistake that he recognized and learned from it,” Lewkowicz said. “I don’t believe that will be the case this time.”
Lubin, in his subsequent fight, was shockingly KO’d in the first round against none other than Jermell Charlo, a sequence of results that perhaps doesn’t bode well for Cota. Yet, “El Demonio” is not exactly quivering in his boxing boots.
“After the fight with Lubin I learned many things, including (how to defend against) the left hand,” Cota said.
Lewkowicz has described his fighter as the kind of puncher who fears no one. “He believes in his power and will stand and trade with anyone,” he has said. “He makes for terrific fights every time because he is only interested in landing his bombs, which he does from every angle.”
Nor is Cota short on confidence. Asked how his fight with Charlo will end, Cota said, “I’m not God so I can’t say how this fight will finish, but the only thing I know is that the referee will raise my hand as the winner . . . I will represent the glory.”
For a closer look at Charlo vs Cota, check out our fight night page.
- Charlo vs Cota