Yuri Foreman left Yankee Stadium a winner.
Sometimes competitive spirit is enough to nullify a loss and blur the line between victory and defeat in the court of public opinion. After all, boxing fans gravitate toward balls-to-the-wall brawlers, those who spill as much blood as they draw. The late Arturo Gatti was beaten nine times -- five of those by stoppage -- yet his never-say-die attitude made him one of the most popular fighters for more than a decade from the late-'90s until his retirement in 2007.
Foreman (28-1, 8 KOs) will never be confused with Gatti in the style department, but his losing effort against Miguel Cotto on Saturday won the rabbi-in-training a transcendent amount of praise.
During the bout, Foreman's name entered Twitter's top-10 trending topics. Words associated with his name in users' status updates? Guts. Heart. Warrior. And those referred to the man who arguably lost all but one round entering the seventh stanza.
Foreman, who wore a brace on his previously injured right knee, slipped three times during the bout. The second spill inhibited his lateral movement to such a degree his trainer, Joe Grier, literally threw in the towel in the eighth. In a confusing and controversial moment, referee Arthur Mercante Jr. dismissed the forfeiture, believing the towel entered the ring from an outside party (and accepting Grier's denial).
As Cotto pressed, Foreman limped and stumbled and absorbed thudding blows he would have avoided prior to his injury.
But he never quit.
It took a textbook Cotto left hook to the liver to end what was a simultaneously gruesome and inspirational ninth round.
Foreman's first blemish was seen by a larger audience than any of his wins. This was, of course, the first boxing event in (albeit a rebuilt) Yankee Stadium since Muhammad Ali defeated Ken Norton in a rubber match. And Cotto remains a huge draw in New York and as a television fighter. Not only did 20,272 witness Foreman's courage in person, but HBO also received a 3.9 rating for the show, its highest-rated boxing broadcast of the year.
Foreman will soon undergo surgery on his torn meniscus.
Considering the amount of buzz generated by his performance, Foreman's return will be highly anticipated.
Watch E:60's segment about Yuri Foreman: