Many boxing experts, including Teddy Atlas, were confident that Yuri Foreman would beat Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium. But that did not happen. Miguel Cotto did a great job of destroying Foreman, and showed the boxing world that his picture will soon be in The Boxing Hall of Fame. I would like to congratulate the new World Champion Miguel Cotto, and his coach Emanuel Steward!
“What happened to Yuri Foreman?” Many journalists and friends have asked me this question since the fight happened.
The answer is very simple. I, Michael Kozlowski, carefully built Yuri Foreman from a cowardly boy into a fighter in the ring. It took years and years of hard work on my part. But finally the psychological resources that Yuri Foreman got from me were dried up and depleted, after all these years.
I think back to a long time ago, when Yuri’s Mom called me and asked me many times the same question. She would say, “Mike, tell me the truth. Are you sure that my son can be a Champion? He is such a scared boy.”
I answered her this- that from her son I was going to make a big Champion. She did not believe me until the day she was dying in the hospital about to pass away, and Yuri brought her his first gold medal from an International tournament.
She asked me to also make her son into a real man. I tried as hard as I could, but I did not make it…
Now when my former student came face to face with Cotto, Yuri Foremen showed his real face. This fight showed that naturally Yuri Foreman is not a fighter. That is why in an extreme case he will always lose his mind. It was the same when Yuri was a boy and first started boxing and was faced with strong opponents. But at that time and later in Foreman’s amateur and beginning professional career I was in Yuri’s corner, so it did not matter.
In my opinion in the professional career of Yuri Foreman he has only had four fights that he fought against strong and experienced opponents who also had a strong punch- where Foreman would have to show his warrior’s character in a critical situation.
The first hard fight was in 2002 against George Armenta. In the first round of the fight Yuri Foreman was on the canvas after Armenta’s very strong straight right punch! But in the third round Foreman, by a very powerful three punch combination, sent Armenta down! That was the first six round fight that we won together in Foreman’s professional career.
The second serious fight of Yuri Foreman was in 2007 in Madison Square Garden against Anthony Thompson. Thompson had great amateur experience and also a very strong punch…the fear to get a strong punch from Thompson paralyzed Yuri Foreman. In all 10 rounds he ran from Thompson or brokenly held him, especially in the first half of the fight. This continued until Thompson was tired from wrestling with Yuri…the crowd was booing the whole fight from the first to the last round. The judges gave a present to Yuri Foreman in this fight that he really lost…
The third fight was in 2009 against a very strong KO puncher Cornelius Bundrage. The audience had no chance to see this fight, because in the fight Yuri Foreman ran far away from his opponent. Later the journalists wrote: “Yuri landed only one punch this fight and that punch was by the head!” This booing fight was stopped in the third round because Foreman was cut…
And now I come back to his really tough fourth fight, the toughest in all of Foreman’s professional career. Yuri setting foot in the ring with Miguel Cotto!
I know Yuri, and I read the eyes of my former student when he came into the ring at Yankee Stadium. I did see that Yuri Foreman came ready to fight…but in the middle of the first round (because I know the psychology of my former pupil very well) I began to see that he again became nervous… I noticed his scared movements begin after he started to feel the power of Miguel Cotto’s punches. I saw by the eyes of Yuri Foreman that my former student by this time had already lost control and was thinking only about how not take hard shots from Cotto…I also saw that in the breaks between rounds Yuri Foreman did not hear the instructions of his corner men and trainer.
During the fourth round Yuri threw two “one-two” combinations automatically- because he was programmed by me like a machine. After the fourth round round, friends of mine who were watching the fight with me told me that in the next round Yuri was going to start turning the fight around and catching up to Cotto. I told them this would not happen. I told them that what Yuri did in the fourth round was because Cotto allowed him to do it, not because he wanted to do it. And I was right! The fifth round proved my point to all of my friends.
After the fifth round I saw that Foreman was now listening to no one and had already agreed in his subconscious mind to lose this fight. Now all his mind was only working on was how not lost the fight by knock-out!
Yuri Foreman is not an exception. In the boxing careers of even some big Champions these moments happen. The instinct of self-preservation blocks the mind…an animal like fear appears and there are not many coaches that call to the mind of this boxer…
When I was in similar situations with Yuri Foreman (some times even when he was sparring in the gym) I would tell him: ” Yuri, I gave you my technique and my foot work not for you to only protect your ass! You have to use my technique so that your opponent starts gets scared and starts to think and care about his own ass!”
Sometimes this speech was not enough for Yuri so I would then scream (all coaches from Gleason’s will always well remember these moments) and tell Yuri if he did not do what I said, I will stop the fight or sparring. In all of my long coaching career with Yuri Foreman it always worked!!!
In this fight against Miguel Cotto the corner of Yuri Foreman had not one coach that could call to mind of the fighter… and at that moment my memory reminded me of some interviews with Yuri Foreman where he explained to journalists that he left me because I was too tough on him…
No one in the corner of Yuri Foreman knew how like I do how to strong lock in Yuri’s knee. I’m 300% sure that if the coaches were to lock in Foreman’s knee like I knew how it would have been a very different fight. If the problem with Yuri’s knee was helped by locking it, it would have helped him get out from psychological shock (which he got
after feeling Cotto’s strong punches…)
By the way, about this knee of Yuri Foreman. After the fight I read an article on Fightnews.com and Yuri said that the knee was an old injury. He said it happened when he was age fifteen and he fell from a bicycle…I thought at this time that Yuri Foreman must have suffered another injury in a section of his memory in his head!!! Because Yuri Foreman from age fourteen trained with me in Israel and he never missed one workout, never once, with me until the one day his Mom passed away…and at that time we were together at his Mom’s Funeral…
But I know where the knee injury is from. In 2000 Yuri Foreman and I represented the New York Metro Boxing Team in the tournament “The Mayor’s CUP” in Washington DC. Paul Malignaggi, the former professional IBF World Champion, was also on this team.
I was working with Foreman on punch mitts. In no time flat Yuri slipped and fell and by inertia I also fell on his legs…we both heard at this moment a very loud CRUNCH from Yuri’s knee. When we stood up Yuri told me that everything was all right and he did not feel any pain, even as his knee started to swell… I locked in Yuri’s knee by hand wraps and tape and said to my boxer, “If you start to feel any pain I will stop the fight…”
Yuri Foreman won the fight! He won his semi-final too! And in the finals he beat a very strong KO puncher from New Jersey who promised everybody that he would knock out the “Russian”!!!
In that final Mayor’s Cup Championship fight, the referee gave Yuri Foreman two counts and three counts to Foreman’s opponent! The fight was stopped in round four by the referee and Yuri won the fight for New York!!
At that time only two boxers from New York Metro (Paul Malignaggi and Yuri Foreman) brought home gold medals! Yuri Foreman also was honored with an additional trophy for being “OUTSTANDING BOXER”! This trophy still stands in my house.
P.S. After betrayal of Yuri Foreman my friends say to me: “What goes around, comes around!” .I never thought that “my knee”, after so many years, would remind Yuri Foreman about me- his coach who brought him to this boxing world and who sacrificed his own life so that Yuri Foreman’s dream would come true…