By Jake Donovan
A sold-out Madison Square Garden serves as the centerpiece for the long awaited rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, which airs live tonight on HBO PPV.
Their first fight in July ‘08 was an instant classic, with Margarito rallying back from an early deficit to surge ahead and stop Cotto in the 11th round, handing the Puerto Rican the first loss of his career.
The fight should have served as the defining moment in Margarito’s career, but has instead triggered a chain of events that has left him mired in controversy. The Mexican was caught with elements of Plaster of Paris loaded into his hand wraps prior to his Jan. ’09 showdown with Shane Mosley.
Margarito’s career was never the same, catching a nine-round beating from a resurrected Mosley followed by a one-year suspension from the California State Athletic Commission. The incident also left many to question the validity of his win over Cotto, wondering if his wraps were also doctored on that night.
Chief among the skeptics is Cotto himself, who has used the suspicion as his motivation for revenge tonight, a matter three years in the waiting. The Puerto Rican is 4-1 (3KO) since that evening, capturing two more alphabet belts in the process, including the super welterweight strap at stake tonight.
The lone loss came at the hands of pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao via 12th round stoppage in November ’09. Pacquiao also handed Margarito a career-worst beating, though their fight last November managed to last all 12 rounds.
How will the long awaited grudge match play out tonight? Read on to see how the Boxingscene.com staff believes it will all go down.
“I actually like Margarito to punish Cotto again in this fight. Now, this is the same person who also predicted that Pacquiao would waste Marquez, so please take this with a grain of salt. But I truly believe that Margarito's style and size will give Cotto problems again. I'll say Margarito TKO eight.”
– Mitch Abramson
“I predict Margarito will overwhelm Cotto and KO him in the 11th round just as he did in the 1st fight. Neither fighter is the same as before but this fight is being fought six pounds north of the first fight and Margarito is naturally the bigger fighter. Margarito in 11 in a very exciting fight in which both fighters have their moments.”
– Ryan “The Greek” Burton
“From the moment this fight was first announced, I thought for sure it was Margarito’s retirement fund and a chance for Cotto to finally close a dark chapter in his career. The closer we get to the opening bell, the more I second guess myself. Sticking with Cotto, but by no means a foregone conclusion. Cotto by decision, this time saving his strength just enough to finish strong and surge ahead.”
– Jake Donovan
“Margarito by late-round TKO. There’s no way to know for sure just how much the brutal beatings he absorbed against Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley and multiple surgeries have taken out of Margarito. But if he’s not shot, the bigger, stronger Margarito should be able to wear down Cotto late in their rematch, much the way he did during their first fight.”
– Keith Idec
“I picked Cotto the first time. I thought he dominated the first half of the fight. And I think he's a far better all-around product than Margarito. If he can be a little smarter this time, avoiding a few more firefights and using skill to make it a more boring evening, he's got a better chance to survive those final six minutes. Give it to him on my card, 7-5 or 8-4. Cotto UD 12.”
– Lyle Fitzsimmons
“Margarito TKO8. This is banking on the aspect that Margarito's eye holds up. I don't see anything indicating what can be different from Cottos side to change the inevitable that Margarito's pressure will always pose issues for him.”
– Ernest Gabion
“Margarito TKO 9.”
– Thomas Gerbasi
“Will Cotto actively seek his pound of flesh by slugging away, or will he stay poised and outbox Margarito? I think it's the latter, with Cotto using his skills to consistently counter a faded Margarito, who knows only one way, and that's forward--no matter what traps might be in store for him and his surgically-repaired eye. Cotto UD12 Margarito.”
– Ryan Maquinana
“I expect villainous Antonio Margarito to walk through Miguel Cotto's shots much like the first fight, putting relentless pressure on the Puerto Rican babyface. The pattern will play out much like the first fight; however the difference in this fight will be the eye. Before Cotto succumbs to the pressure once, the damage will be done and the "Mafioso" Margarito will finally get his comeuppance. Miguel Cotto TKO8”
– Philip Michael
“Margarito TKO10: Don't count this corner as buying into the 'wraps did it' theory of the first fight. Margarito walked through hell, and ate a wave of shots, to get the win. Above Welterweight, the size advantage for Margarito will be more distinct and Cotto's confidence could be shot if he lands bombs again early and Margarito is still there. Cotto has never figured out how to integrate his offense and defense; he's still always on one or the other. It's his achilles heel against offensive fighters who keep coming and take advantage of the transitions. Looking for Margarito to slowly break down Cotto again for the stoppage.”
– Cliff Rold
“Cotto-Margarito II is really a difficult fight to pick since so much has happened to both fighters since their first fight. I find myself going back and forth on this one constantly and if I were to give a prediction I would have to side with Margarito in another thriller. I just feel that the fight being contested at 153 pounds will give him a pretty big edge, as Cotto is a small junior middleweight, and I see his aggression once again giving Cotto real problems.”
– Chris Robinson
“A classic setting for another classic fight. While Margarito will never stop coming, I think Cotto will make the proper adjustments; most importantly going to the body to ease Margarito's pressure. Margarito will jump on Cotto from the opening bell but Cotto will weather the storm and unlike the first fight, he will stand his ground successfully when he needs to. Cotto by Unanamious Decision in a thriller.”
– Luis “Three For Juan” Sandoval
“I don't see Antonio Margarito doing it again. And not because of the wraps as someone can deduce. Actually, I'm not a believer in a plaster story in regards to pre-Mosley bout of the Tijuana Tornado. However, I'm a zealous believer in his best days being behind him. Margarito was seen just twice in the ring over the last three years. He looked rusty against a very limited brawler in Garcia and he was punched into hell by Manny Pacquiao, more violently and more convincingly than even Cotto. The Filipino has definitely punched some shit out of the Mexican, and I don't think he has recovered well enough to win it on the second time. Nevertheless, I expect a hard and dangerous fight for the Boricua; Antonio's style being a wrong one for Miguel. And again, Cotto's better technique, his speed advantage and his intelligent approach will help him to overcome the Mexican's resistance in a two-way battle (when Cotto chooses it to be a battle). My prediction: Cotto UD 12.”
– Alexey Sukachev
The Cotto-Margarito rematch headlines a four-fight pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 9PM ET/6PM PT. Those wishing to order and watch online can do so by visiting Top Rank’s website at http://www.toprank.tv.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]