Sharkie’s Machine: Prefight Thoughts on Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto and PPV
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., Exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (July 21, 2008)  
The buzz is in the air for this weekend’s Welterweight showdown between Mexico’s Antonio Margarito (36-5, 26 KO’s), the IBF belt holder and Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto (32-0, 26 KO’s), the WBA belt holder.

The fight will be televised live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. For those who can’t make it to Vegas, it will be televised on Pay-Per-View in accord with your local cable providers.

For those of you who don’t have cable TV, my sympathy goes out to you as this match up has the potential of being one of the best fights of the year.

Here’s the video game style match up.

Offense – edge: Even
Defense – edge: Cotto
Boxing – edge: Cotto
Brawling – edge: Margarito
Speed – edge: Cotto
Power – even
Ring Generalship – edge: Cotto
Stamina – edge: Margarito
Chin – edge: Margarito
Cuts – edge: Cotto

Styles make fights and Cotto and Margarito are very different types of fighters.

Cotto is a well oiled boxing machine who uses footwork and timing to strike his opponents. He is a smart, well balanced fighter with excellent skills on defensive and offensive and has particularly good ring generalship. Cotto has good power and speed but a possibly suspect chin, since it hasn’t been tested since the Corley fight a few years ago at Jr. Welter, when Cotto came into that fight weighing 157! Cotto went on to win that controversial fight when the ref waved Corley off after he took a strategic knee for an eight count after taking a few clean shots from Cotto.

Margarito is a fighter in the purest sense. His boxing skills are respectable but it’s his tenacity and tendency to brawl in the late rounds that makes him especially dangerous. Margarito used to be a slow starter but after the loss to Paul Williams last year, where he didn’t get into his rhythm until so late in the fight it didn’t matter, Margarito has evolved. He showed great potency in starting fast in his recent rematch against the brave Kermit Cintron, who lost their first fight by KO a couple of years ago. In the rematch, Margarito was busy from the first bell and put Cintron down and out in six rounds. Margarito has a good chin and incredible stamina that sees him get stronger in the late rounds. He does seem to have problems with good boxers, as evidenced in his match with Joshua Clottey two years ago. Margarito won that fight but many felt that Clottey deserved at least a Draw. Miguel Cotto is a very good boxer.

The only new thing I saw from Cotto’s last fight against Alphonso Gomez (a terrible mismatch) was a little bit of ego, something I never saw Cotto show in the ring. Gomez is a decent fighter but far too green for the likes of Cotto, so that fight did nothing to prepare him for the likes of Margarito. But in Cotto’s fight against Shane Mosley, he showed his pedigree as a quality boxer, who landed the better punches and won a decision over the aged but still respectable Mosley.

Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto represents the best in boxing entertainment in an era where it’s rare to see two of the best fighters, fighting each other. Cotto and Margarito are both in their prime, both dangerous in their own right and unless it turns out to be a Draw, one of them is poised to capture a career’s worth of glory this coming weekend while the other suffers the agony of defeat.

When the dust settles Saturday night, one man will have two pieces of the title. Will the new WBC belt holder, Andre Berto fight the WBO belt holder Paul Williams so the winner can fight the winner of Cotto vs. Margarito and render us with one true Champion, spelled with a capital C? Unfortunately, it’s very unlikely.

While they all have title belts, they can’t all be Champions. By definition, there can only be ONE Champion. Boxing is the only sport that really doesn’t have any Champions in the true sense of the word. In today’s boxing, with all the sanctioning bodies doling out titles to several fighters in the same divisions, one would have to win all the major belts in one’s division to be the real Champion. Everyone else is a top contender, alphabet soup belts be damned.

Just because everyone thinks one guy is the best, doesn’t make it so. A fighter has to clear the deck, fight and beat all the best to be the best.

Manny Pacquiao was recently crowned the new, ‘best Pound for Pound’ champion after fighting David Diaz, who’s a good fighter, but not even considered one of the best in his own division. So much for best p4p. Pacquiao is a great fighter, no doubt…but that whole “best P4P” thing is just a promotional gimmick. If Cotto wins Saturday night, he’d be a more logical choice for best P4P fighter since he’d be undefeated with a lot of “big names” on his resume. Pacman is a great fighter but he has three losses, two draws and been kayoed twice. But to Pacman’s credit, he has also been involved in three rivalries with M.A. Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez, three great champions in their day.

For all the positives about this Cotto Margarito match up, it should be noted that this fight could have served as a tremendous promotion for a sport that could use a good boost in the public eye. Boxing has seen its fan base shrinking for over a decade. Between bad match ups, bogus decisions, no tournaments that create Champions, questionable “P4P” champions who pick and choose their opponents and a heavyweight division that is as exciting as watching paint dry, boxing could use some good P.R. This fight could have been it if it weren’t to be limited to PPV buyers or the folks who up and went to see the fight live in Vegas.

Too bad this fight will be on Pay-Per-View. This could have been one of the best promotions for boxing today. It’s the kind of fight that casual sports fans need to see to make boxing attractive again. It’s a shame that kids won’t be able to see this fight, since they can’t afford the PPV. Where will the next generation of fighters and fight fans come from if you don’t attract the next generation coming up?

I’m not against having a PPV fight once in a while but it should be a good fight card, not three crappy fights and one big name attraction that could turn out to be a dud anyway. The under card on this one is a Featherwight contest between Bernabe Concepcion vs. Adam Carrera. I never heard of either of them. From looking at their records, I’m guessing that Concepcion will win that one. How did these guys get to be on PPV?

If the promoters tried to get this fight on regular network television (like CBS, NBC or ABC) so everyone could see it, the promotional value would’ve been tremendous. PPV limits exposure to only the most hardcore fight fans. This is potentially one of the biggest fights of the year. There was a time when boxing was the biggest spectator sport in the world and all the major networks would be fighting each other for the rights to cover these events on their stations. What are the businessmen that rule boxing doing today that’s so damn wrong?

In the meantime, enjoy the fights!

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