Cotto, Foreman on different paths

New Yankee Stadium makes its boxing debut Saturday, but seemingly without the fanfare an event of this magnitude deserves.

This is no slight to Miguel Cotto or Yuri Foreman, who's defending his junior middleweight title (on HBO, 10:15 p.m. ET). Both men have compelling stories and can fill any New York arena. They lack one thing though -- they aren't Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr.

New Yankee Stadium was bandied about as a possible location for the dream fight before negotiations fell apart in the winter. Who wouldn't have wanted to see the stadium's first main event be boxing's biggest since Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson in 1996? A majestic event for a majestic venue.

The Cotto-Foreman bout may not be majestic, but it's not chopped liver, either. The 29-year-old Foreman, after winning his title on the undercard of the Cotto-Pacquiao fight in November, can now become a huge star. He's unbeaten and is the first Israeli world champion in boxing.

His path to Yankee Stadium is quite unique. Growing up in the Soviet Union in Belarus, a 7-year-old Foreman was getting bullied. His mother put him in a boxing gym and he fell in love with the sport. A couple years later his family moved to Israel where he continued to box, eventually landing in America late in his teens.

"I followed the dream," Foreman said, who now lives in Brooklyn.

Cotto, on the other hand, is a big name in boxing who's trying to prove he's still relevant. His 2008 loss to a now-disgraced Antonio Margarito - the first of his career - was brutal and many believe he's not recovered from it, physically or mentally. Cotto's November destruction at the hands of Pacquiao further flamed talk that the Puerto Rican was done as an elite fighter.

"If I didn't feel recovered, I wouldn't take another fight," he said.

So he moved from welterweight to junior middleweight, finally escaping years of struggling to get down to 147 pounds. The change may not be permanent though.

"If we found something at welterweight , we'd go down to 147 no doubt," he said.

Normally, moving up in weight raises some questions of how well a boxer can take a punch from a bigger guy. In Cotto's case this is muddled because he's battling an opponent who has only eight knockouts in his 28 wins. That paltry figure doesn't discourage Foreman, however.

"My last fight with Daniel Santos, he got a taste of my power," Foreman said. "He got knocked down twice. If they underestimate my power, they will be surprised."

Outside the ring, Foreman surprises people too. He's a rabbinical student. It helps the man, playfully dubbed the "Boxing Rabbi," keep balance in his life.

"I'm a boxer in the gym. When I come home, I'm not," he said.

A respectable loss doesn't ruin Foreman's marketability. But Cotto's future as a big-time name might be finished with a defeat. Cotto, 29, knows the stakes and said this is a statement bout for him.

"There won't be any questions about Miguel Cotto after the fight," he said. "Everything will be clear."