Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito - The Fight the Hardcore Fans have been Craving
By John Novoselac (July 25, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © HBO-PPV)  
For the hardcore fight fans, this is the one we’ve been waiting for. We get a unification scrap between two come-forward, power punching, never-say-die warriors to decide once and for all who reigns supreme in arguably the toughest division in boxing. With the retirement of Floyd Mayweather, who refused to face either fighter, the winner will prove to be the cream of the welter crop.

Among casual fans, this fight is still creating some buzz. HBO has been running its Countdown promotional show all week. Although, they may have been better off doing a 24/7 series, which has proven to greatly impact PPV buys in the last couple years, since its inception for the highly anticipated and hugely disappointing De la Hoya – Mayweather fight nearly a year ago. ESPN is getting in on the action as well, running the story on its front page midweek leading into the fight.

Miguel Cotto first made his name in the junior welter division, picking up the vacant WBO strap by stopping previously undefeated Kelson Pinto. He went on to defeat 6 more in that title run, stopping all but one, and giving 2 more fighters their first taste of defeat. Having great difficulty making the 140 pound weight limit, Cotto stepped up to the welter weight class to win another vacant title, this time the WBA version, with a devastating win over Carlos Quintana, another fighter who had never lost professionally.

In 2007, Cotto took care of his mandatory in Oktay Urkal, and then stacked his resume with an impressive stoppage of Zab Judah, and a tough decision win over a very game Shane Mosley. The Mosley victory showed that Miguel could not only brawl and beat opponents into submission, but he could also box from either stance, moving forward and backwards. A showcase beat down over Contender series star Alfonso Gomez this past Spring, leads us to this fight with the other victor from that very same card, Antonio Margarito.

Antonio Margarito has been in the top 10 rankings at welter weight longer, more than 100 weeks longer, than any other fighter currently ranked. He held the WBO belt from 2002 until 2007, when he relinquished it via decision to Paul Williams. During that reign, he was generally regarded as the most avoided fighter at 147 pounds. He rattled off win after workman like win, only to never have that break through, center stage performance that would propel him to the upper echelons of the sport.

After losing to Williams, Margarito went back to work. He stopped journeyman Golden Johnson in 1 round to set up a rematch with IBF title holder Kermit Cintron, whom he had destroyed in 5 rounds in 2005. It took Antonio an extra round to get the job done this time, over an improved Cintron, earning a KO victory in the 6th round via a brutal, brutal body shot.

From that timeline, we arrive here: mere days away from the most highly anticipated clash of the year. Boxing writers are largely picking Cotto to come out victorious this Saturday night for a variety of reasons. Many see him as more consistent and more versatile. Yet, some see Margarito as the more damaging puncher of the two. Cotto has been hurt in more recent fights than Margarito, yet Cotto has been in there with the bigger hitters. Therein lays the conundrum of this fight: who’s will can withstand the others, and who can dictate the pace of a predictably brutal show down.

The guaranteed winners Saturday night are the viewers and the fans. This writer will go out on a limb and say that Cotto’s shorter, crisper, more accurate shots will make this fight easier for him to win than most anticipate, and Margarito will be stopped before the 11th round.

Questions or comments,
John at: jnovoselac@yahoo.com

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