Cotto vs Margarito and Mayweather is Gone: It's Like Nothing's Missing
By Debbie Duran (July 25, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Neil Kaplin)  
Ever wonder if Floyd Mayweather Jr. ever regrets retiring? I mean, that's if 'Money May' really is retired, like, for good.

And if you told me he wouldn't be watching Saturday night's much-anticipated welterweight battle between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, I would have to think you were lying. At the very least, one could even assume Mayweather will even be in attendance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Vegas = Mayweather, right?

But will the eyes of all be focused more on the expectedly thrilling bout between the WBA titlist and "The Tijuana Tornado" or the former world champion who will most likely be studying the action from the expensive seats; plotting his next move?

Hopefully, it'll be the former.

This match deserves the attention and expectations it's earned in the wake of Mayweather's departure. It earned it before his departure, honestly. Maybe now, we can get a bead on who's the real, solid world welterweight champion after the fight. Yeah, I know it's all about an alphabet belt but can we truly negatively gauge a fighter because he doesn't carry around a truckload of belts everywhere he goes? The WBA belt will be on the line but the quality of the fight and fighters involved speaks more of what the consequences of the fight reveal once all is said and done.

Would you say that the winner of Cotto-Margarito is the true champ at 147? I'd be compelled to, regardless of what belt he held.

There was a time, very recently, when there was nothing but the waiting for the minor mess at welterweight to fix itself. We had Margarito, 36-5 (26), pegged as the most avoided welter in the world until Paul Williams beat him. Then Carlos Quintana solved Williams and Williams solved and wiped out Quintana in turn. Kermit Cintron got schooled by Margarito, came back and got his own belt and eventually fell to Margarito again. Miguel Cotto faced the brave Paul Malignaggi in Cotto's final fight at junior welterweight and took on mostly solid challenges at welter after facing Quintana for the vacant WBA belt. As for Margarito? Well, he never went away; as evidenced by his beatings of Cintron and wins over Manuel Gomez and Joshua Clottey.

Whether or not, Floyd Mayweather wasn't needed to make this fight. If anything, it feels like nothing's missing. Sure, we wanted to see Mayweather-Cotto or Mayweather-Margarito but when the excuses and refusals (See: turning down eight mil to defend against Margarito) piled up, less and less fans seemed to care.

Even more important to the success and impact this fight will make are the variables; the biggest being vulnerabilities. Cotto, 32-0 (26), has the capacity to get in trouble if he gets too excited or confident, opening himself (and his chin) for an attack. His gifts, such as his body attack and overall power, shade his rare holes in defense. Another variable that could affect Cotto's performance is his spotty relationship with uncle/trainer Evangelista. Obviously, their personal and business relationship didn't just start becoming uncomfortable out of nowhere but when something like HBO's "Countdown To Cotto vs. Margarito" shines a light on it, it's easy to let your mind run wild when you have an active imagination to begin with. And being a fight fan makes it even more active, right? I mean, how many fans of other sports sit around and make up plot lines for fights that never even happened, let alone fights that do?

What's even more curious is the lack of pre-fight drama. Both fighters are confident of the big win but are surprisingly reserved in their approaches, keeping bravado to a minimum.

Weird when you think about what makes Puerto Rican and Mexican rivalries historically interesting, isn't it?

But don't let the relatively demure nature of the pre-fight promotions fool you. It's going to be a war and a half. Neither man will give and certainly neither man knows when to quit. I'd like to think that, overall, it's because they're an even match and that this is an even fight. It might even be worth the pay per view price. But I really don't want to wait til the following weekend to see this. Plus, we have a kidless weekend. It's almost an addict's no-brainer.

And if Floyd Mayweather's watching on Saturday night, either there in the arena or in some super-sweet viewing room in the Mayweather Compound, he might get a pang to come back from a retirement that might not have been so serious after all.

Or maybe he'll be OK with the fact that Cotto-Margarito is a fight that didn't need him in a division that equally didn't need him.

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