Miguel Cotto waited for
Saturday night just as over 21,000 fans that packed Madison Square Garden
tonight waited for the rematch between Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Whether for
revenge or a personal sense of justice, Miguel Cotto succeeded, thoroughly
dominating Margarito over nine rounds until, under advice of the ringside
doctor, referee Steve Smoger called a halt to the contest before the start of
the tenth round.
From the opening bell until
the stoppage, Cotto was the faster, sharper and just plain better fighter.
Cotto began the first stanza dictating the pace with movement, picked his spots
effectively and put his punches together well. From the onset, Margarito hardly
looked like the fighter called the “Tijuana Tornado” for his extraordinary high
punch output. Despite his new cornrow hairstyle, Margarito looked downright
As Cotto continued using his
movement, the sold-out crowd in the Garden grew louder as he landed both a greater
number of- and more- effective punches. Cotto breezed to another round on all
three judges’ cards as Margarito was unable to land anything of consequence.
By the third round,
Margarito was a far cry from the man who had risen to top of the boxing world
three years ago, looking so much like an aged fighter as Cotto landed
combinations and easily dodged Margarito’s wide punches. By the fourth round,
Margarito’s eyes were showing the effects of the Cotto onslaught. The right
eye, the cause of much concern in the weeks before the fight, was starting to
Margarito had his moments
but looked nothing like the pre-hand wrap-scandal fighter. With each passing
round, the crowd’s nervous energy metamorphosed into excitement in anticipation
of victory- and redemption.
Margarito showed life in the
final minute of round five but it was too little, too late as, again, all three
judges scored the round for Cotto, now scoring a shutout on two cards and
winning all but one round on the third. Margarito again looked to rebound in
round six but Cotto’s movement, combined with Margarito’s diminished hand
speed, enabled Cotto to escape any real harm.
While some of the crowd’s apprehension
returned, Cotto scored a solid sixth round punctuated with a solid left hook, again
bringing the crowd to its feet. Margarito did press on, however, and put
together his best first half of a round of the fight in the seventh. Although
the closest round of the fight, two judges scored the seventh heat for Cotto
and in Margarito’s corner before the eighth, consideration of ending the bout
was very well apparent.
Cotto seemed to know the
fight was his to lose as the eighth round commenced. Cotto again used movement
to create opportunities and prevent Margarito from gaining any momentum. With
Margarito’s right eye now completely closed, Cotto landed left hands almost at
will as again, the crowd erupted after the Puerto Rican landed a stinging
combination just before the bell sounded.
When the bell heralded the
opening of the ninth, it found Margarito still on his stool as the doctor took
an even closer look at the suffering right eye. It seemed clear that end was
near for Margarito. While Margarito did land his share of punches in the ninth
round, even winning the round on one judge’s card, his punches hardly fazed
The activity in Margarito’s
corner was feverish. With Cotto pacing in the ring and the crowd noise rising,
Smoger signaled the end of the bout. All three judges had the fight scored
89-82 through nine rounds.
While this will likely not
end the debate over whether or not Margarito did indeed use illegal handwraps
in their first meeting, both Miguel Cotto and his fans can rightfully state
that when it was clear the fight was fought on equal terms, there was no doubt
who the better man was.