COMING INTO THE BOUT, PRE-FIGHT:
So many questions were being posed for each fighter coming into this past Saturday night’s grudge match between two of boxing’s most notable stars, Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto. For Cotto, the question has been asked since the TKO defeat at the hands of Margarito back in 2008, will he ever regain the same form, and confidence he had as an undefeated fighter? Is Miguel a fighter significantly on the decline? Or could the Puerto Rican fighter,who at the age of just 31, still have his second wind in his career by whipping the man who controversially handed him the first loss of his professional career?
As for the “Tijuana Tornado”, Antonio Margarito, he has had a wealth of questions coming his way ever since being caught for attempting to load the gloves he was going to use in his 2009 Welterweight title defense against “Sugar” Shane Mosley. After it was discovered that Margarito and his camp had attempted to load Margarito’s gloves, suspicions arose about Margarito’s signature victory over Cotto. The questions for Margarito go as follows, did he have loaded gloves when he fought Cotto in their first encounter? Does Margarito have anything left in the tank as a top fighter after taking a devastating KO loss to Shane Mosley? Or after the brutal twelve round destruction that left Margarito’s right eye severely damaged afterwards at the hands of Manny Pacquiao? Well, It was fight time.
The sold out Madison Square Garden made it more than obvious that Miguel Cotto was the adored crowd favorite. Margarito was crossing enemy lines at M.S.G. with the predominantly Puerto Rican faithful supporting their fighter. Once the first stanza was awoken by the classic “ding ding” to begin the war the crowd was electric. Neither man looked anything but greatly conditioned. However, Antonio Margarito’s body, while still more than good enough to impress the ladies, was not the same as it was in the first fight he had with Cotto, let alone any of his best days at Welterweight. Cotto’s frame on the other hand, looked as good, as fresh, and as not drained as it has in years. The stage was set; could Antoino Margarito upset the Cotto faithful and silence any notions of controversy over his victory in their first encounter. For Cotto could he attain redemption and revenge, or as the humble Cotto might say if you asked him “Get Just another good win, I’m happy to get my job done.”
Through rounds one and two, it was all Miguel Cotto. Because of Cotto’s drop off in the second half of the first fight with Margarito, some onlookers suspected if Cotto could sustain his success. As Cotto was unsuccessful to do so in their first fight. Those viewers who were in that line of thought had to have their notions spiked when Margarito put on the best performance all night for himself, in the third and fourth rounds. Making Cotto fight on very competitive terms, and finally getting the opportunity to make Cotto taste his money punches, where he can set and deliver them. Along with his relentless pressure, Margarito, is a nightmare with a great chin who does not stop pressing forward. Cotto knew doing more boxing and utilizing his advantages over Margarito would have to be the way to go. Despite Cotto getting hit with Margarito’s shots time to time, some similar to the ones he tasted in their first bout, he did not seem nearly as badly affected by Margarito’s blows this time out. The uppercuts, predominantly the left, and the right cross for Margarito were not having the same affect on Cotto. Cotto did not buckle, though he would clinch at times, albeit in an effective way, shoving Margarito back and putting his weight on him. Nor did Cotto’s facial damage at any point rival the damage that was done before three years ago.
After the competitive third and fourth, though you could conceivably give Cotto both rounds, It was all Cotto. Margarito’s eye had suffered a nasty cut due to a stiff left jab by Cotto in the third. Cotto from the fifth round on enjoyed one sided success in pounding the injured eye of Margarito. Cotto began to show off a wealth of offensive weapons in his arsenal and terrific boxing and ring generalship. Cotto now, realizing the mistakes of the past was not going to repeat them. Cotto began to drop his work rate a bit, and was now circling Margarito often again, rather than giving the oncoming Margarito forward momentum to chase him. Cotto, stealing a technique Shane Mosley used against Margarito in their 2009 Welterweight Championship bout in which Mosley knocked out Margarito. Implemented a technique that Mosley used to be successful, clinching Margarito as he is coming in, mounting his forward aggression. As Margarito loves to get his tremendous work rate going as he is pressing forward and getting his opponent on the ropes. Along with circling Margarito around, and the adjustment of clinching Margarito as he is coming forward, Cotto began to leave Margarito befuddled. Cotto was not just effectively avoiding Margarito, and lessening his offensive attempts. But as seen in round six, he began to make Margarito miss cleanly as opposed to parrying and blocking his shots. Cotto also continued assault on Margarito’s eye and began to give a boxing clinic.
Round Seven produced Margarito’s best shot, a straight right hand that had made Cotto clinch. This however, was only momentarily. Margarito’s shots were not having nearly the same tremendous affect on Cotto as they did in comparison to their 2008 bout. Other than that, the stanza was more of the same with Cotto moving side to side beautifully, pushing Margarito back at times in clinches, nailing him with left jabs, and hooks to punish Margarito’s eye. Round eight, saw some more of the same. Except Antonio Margarito was wearing down, his punches were not having much steam on them anymore, and were becoming even slower. His eye was becoming a real mess as well. Margarito’s biggest attribute shined through, though, as he continued to press forward till the end. The ninth would be Margarito’s last.
Despite grinning, and grinning some more throughout his unfortunate night, Margarito grinned again as he took more punishment in the ninth and eventual final round. Miguel Cotto’s shots were crisper, faster, and landing with much more accuracy than Margarito’s were. In the second half of the ninth, Cotto’s vicious head and body combination attack signaled the end for Antonio Margarito. Although, he did survive the round, he was hurt in the round. After a disgusted Margarto pleaded and argued with the doctor on hand for the fight to continue he was eventually rejected. The bout was halted as the doctor did not allow Antonio Margarito to continue to fight for the tenth round, making the winner Miguel Cotto by TKO 10.
Miguel Cotto outclassed Antonio Margarito in their highly anticipated grudge match. In the eyes of many, Cotto embarrassed the much slower, and rugged Margarito. However credit is due to Margarito, it is hard to recall a bout where he did not stop giving it his all and pursue winning the fight against all odds, or never waned under the punishment he we receiving, these are Championship qualities. Respect is sure to be given by some to Margarito on his sincere bravado, or if not that, people may find Margarito appealing because he is pretty entertaining and amusing. If he can still fight at anywhere near the top of the level of the sport, he can bring in some pretty good dough. He has been in so many high profile fights and can play up the villain role so well as of late, and the Hispanic fan base always supports their fighters. However, that is a big ‘if’.
That being said, this was a vintage Miguel Cotto performance. Cotto was the man of the hour, and put on a show for Cotto’s extremely passionate Puerto Rican fan base. Cotto stated that “He would take advantage of Margarito’s eye the way he took advantage of what he did.” Miguel Cotto was not bluffing, he battered Margarito’s formerly injured eye with bone crunching, cleanly landing, left hooks across the eye of Margarito. Cotto unleashed a stiff jab that was continuously landing on the “fleshy” part of the inured eye. Sweet revenge, how sweet it is for him. With all the swirling allegations that he was cheated out of his undefeated record and saying he has not been the same fighter since the demoralizing loss. It must feel good for Cotto to erase one of two blemishes on his big time career. This marked not only Cotto’s revenge, but also the second defense of his WBA Super Welterweight Championship of the World, since capturing it from Yuri Foreman in June of 2010. The first title defense coming this past March against Ricardo Mayorga, when he stopped the wild Mayorga in the final round.
Many have Cotto, along with Mexico’s blossoming star WBC Super Welterweight World Champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, as the top two Super Welterweights in the world. These past three victories have catapulted Miguel Cotto back into serious business since losing in November of 2009 to Manny Pacquiao. A mega fight looms on the horizon for Puerto Rico’s prized pugilistic pupil. A summit meeting with the before mentioned Alvarez would be an ideal crossroads fights that would have so much on the line for each fighter. For Cotto, a victory over Alvarez would make him the universally recognized Super Welterweight Champion of the world and secure his spot in the Boxing Hall of Fame. For Alvarez, it would be something of a final test for him. Miguel Cotto is easily by far the best, and most accomplished fighter Alvarez would ever have faced, a victory would make him the youngest Undisputed Junior Middleweight Champion of all time. A lot of money would proceed to enter both gentlemen’s pockets as well, as Mexico Vs. Puerto Rico is always a hot rivalry, and ticket. Cotto and Alvarez are one of, if not the favorite son of each country as of right now. It would make a whole lot of sense, finically as well. Let us just hope, for boxing’s sake, Golden Boy and Top Rank can come to an agreement for a great fight like that to come to fruition. If not Alvarez, lucrative options for Cotto would be a fight with James Kirkland. For money’s sake, a rematch with Pacquiao or a fight with Floyd Mayweather. Cotto has proven he can draw against anybody, he is a star. Miguel Cotto looked as good as he has in a few years, and that is good for boxing.