By Cliff Rold
It’s boxing as bloodsport, rich with the fire of vendetta and the quest for redemption. Fights like this are why boxing still is a writer’s sport, why Hollywood will never stop calling. In what will surely be the cauldron of Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Mexico versus Puerto Rico resumes anew.
And for many of the fans in New York, the black hats and white hats are clear as day for this one. Antonio Margarito was caught trying to put something illicit into his wraps prior to his fight with Shane Mosley. For Miguel Cotto and his supporters, the evidence was in. Cotto, undefeated prior to his first meeting with Margarito, was a victim of foul play.
Margarito says no.
Cotto must win to erase the stain. The same is true for Margarito. Both men are likely to beat the hell out of each other before the night is over. It’s Christmas come early.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Title: WBA Jr. Middleweight (2010-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: WBO Welterweight (2009, 1 Defense); WBA Welterweight (2006-08, 4 Defenses); WBO Jr. Welterweight (2004-06, 6 Defenses)
Weight: 152.25 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 149.1 lbs.
Hails from: Caguas, Puerto Rico
Record: 36-2, 29 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #2 at Jr. Middleweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 16-2, 13 KO, 2 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 13 (Cesar Bazan, Carlos Maussa, Lovemore N’Dou, Randall Bailey, DeMarcus Corley, Ricardo Torres, Paulie Malignaggi, Carlos Quintana, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Joshua Clottey, Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 2 (Antonio Margarito, Manny Pacquiao)
Previous Titles: WBO Welterweight (2002-07, 7 Defenses); IBF Welterweight (2008); WBA Welterweight (2008-09)
Weight: 152.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 148.65 lbs.
Hails from: Tijuana, Mexico
Record: 38-7, 27 KO
BoxingScene Rank: Unrated
Record in Major Title Fights: 10-4, 8 KO, 1 KOBY, 1 No Contest
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 6 (Sergio Martinez, Frankie Randall, Andrew Lewis, Kermit Cintron, Joshua Clottey, Miguel Cotto)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 5 (Daniel Santos, Paul Williams, Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Cotto B; Margarito B-
Pre-Fight: Power – Cotto B+; Margarito B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Cotto B-; Margarito C-
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Cotto A; Magarito B
There is a line of thinking that says Margarito is the more worn commodity going into the rematch. He took savage beatings from Mosley and Pacquiao, the latter breaking the orbital bone of his right eye. There is rampant discussion about just how much of a full field of vision Margarito brings to the ring here.
Cotto is going to try to find out. He’s still technically superior and can use his jab and accurate right hand to pile points and go after the wound. However, hasn’t Cotto shown some wear as well? After Margarito, he had a grueling fight with Joshua Clottey, a losing war with Pacquiao, and in his last outing got a full night from Ricardo Mayorga.
Cotto’s biggest problem, besides the fists flying back at him, in the first Margarito fight was something no plaster could explain. Margarito took everything Cotto had and kept coming. Sure, he was stopped next time out by Mosley but against Pacquiao he was again of stiff beard. He’d score an A for intangibles if not for wrap gate.
Margarito also hurt Pacquiao worse than anyone in recent years with a fifth round body assault. If Margarito could endure Pacquiao’s speed and output that night to last the route, Cotto’s chances of a stoppage probably aren’t high here. That means a long night, and Margarito is going to land. He may not be as relentless as he was the first time, but a slowed Cotto might not force him to be.
The biggest difference between this one and the first fight might ultimately be that, with the passage of time, each man finds the other even easier to hit. Who does that favor?
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. Look for Margarito to slowly break down Cotto again for the stoppage.
Report Card Picks 2011: 40-14
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]