Knockout Nation: Margarito Breaks Cotto – Mayweather or De La Hoya Next? Lacy Retires, Judah-Clottey

There were many questions as Antonio Margarito and

Miguel Cotto made their way to the ring on Saturday July 26. Which force was

stronger, Cotto’s higher skill or Margarito’s relentless pressure? Was it

Antonio’s size or Miguel’s ability to fight off the backfoot? In the end, it

was Margarito who used all his tools to systemically break down Cotto for a

decisive and dramatic stoppage in the 11th round.

 

As many predicted, Cotto came out in round one

boxing well of the backfoot. Using quick lateral movement, the WBA champion

bounced quick hook flurries off Margarito’s head. The challenger was showing

cautious respect early, and Cotto used that and his quickness to double up left

hooks to Antonio’s head along with a hard straight right. Still, Margarito

showed signs of things to come by landing two left uppercuts.

 

Round two saw the Tijuana Tornado pick up the

pace. He walked through hook bombs to corner Cotto and strafe him with

uppercuts and hooks to the body. Seeking to gain space and respect, Cotto

immediately fired back with hooks and uppercuts of his own to the head before

backpedaling straight into a long right from Antonio. Forced to fight, Cotto cracked a hard left hook off Margarito’s head, who still pressed forward. He repeated the feat again to close out the round. Cotto paid a price for his stand, returning to his corner with a bloody nose and a cut on his left eyelid.

In round three Cotto went back to using his

superior lateral movement to counter off the ropes with hooks and then move

away. However, Margarito continued pressing, this time behind the jab to punish

Cotto against the ropes with body shots. While the punches weren’t landed flush

and flashy like Cotto’s, the challenger’s punches downstairs were landing with

heavy authority. Possibly seeking to buy time, Cotto complained twice of low

blows from Margarito, which resulted in a warning from referee Kenny Bayless.

 

Rounds four and five saw much of the same pattern.

Early on Cotto outboxed Margarito safely and scored heavy with clean counters

hooks to the head from outside.  In the

fifth, Margarito caught Cotto with an overhand right, causing the Puerto Rican

star to retaliate with an uppercut. Not done, he followed up with a short

flurry before landing a left hook and another snapping uppercut. Showing good

defense, Cotto picked off two hard shots from Margarito against the ropes

before twisting his body to dodge three successive overhand shots to conclude

the fifth.

 

Margarito’s corner chastised him for waiting too

much, and implored him to set up his shots better and not focus on the one

knockout punch. Heeding those words, the challenger started the

sixth more composed, even after getting caught early with a right-left hook combo

to the head. Bullying Cotto to the ropes, Margarito exclusively worked the body

and particularly scored with a painful left hook that was ignored by the HBO

team. Here, the effect the punches were having of each fighter became more

pronounced. Margarito remained unfazed while Cotto’s face started to show

discouragement as he continued trying to fend off the unwavering body attack.

 

Margarito smelled blood and came on even stronger in round seven. Cotto’s movement began to labor, and Magarito continued his excellent hook body attack against the ropes. Now Cotto’s hands began to drop, which allowed the challenger to badly hurt the WBA champion with three left and one right uppercut.

 

Cotto attempted to fight off his attacker like he

did so many times before against the likes of Ricardo Torres and Zab Judah, but

Margarito would not move and punished Cotto with more uppercuts and hooks to

the body. Switching southpaw, clinching and throwing sporadic combos saved

Miguel from tasting the canvas as the round ended.

 

Now bleeding from the nose and mouth, Cotto

started the eighth by boxing and staying away from Antonio’s power. With his

lateral movement returning, Cotto was very successful and snapped Margarito’s

head back with counters between Margarito’s punches. In a psychological tactic,

Margarito would gingerly trot towards Cotto after getting hit to emphasize he

wasn’t being hurt.

 

In round nine Margarito was more than happy to

trade punches, but it was Cotto who did his best to retreat and try to create

space. Tired, Cotto began going straight back allowing the Tijauna Tornado to

do more great work in the corners to Miguel’s body and head. Now, the champion

was noticeably being moved physically by the damage of punches. Sensing Cotto

was weakening, Margarito’s corner stressed to him to pick up the speed of his

punches going into the championship rounds.

 

At the start of round ten Cotto looked to fight in

spurts and run out the clock, with Margarito in hot pursuit. For the majority

of the round, Cotto successfully maintained distance at mid-range to land

thudding combinations to the head of Margarito. But the challenger’s constant pressure again gave dividends at the :11 second mark when a flurry of hooks and

uppercuts again badly hurt Cotto. Only a wise clinch and the time running out

saved the champion from being stopped.

 

Now debilitated to the point where he could no

longer move, Cotto began making his last stand in the eleventh with powerful

straight rights and left hooks that Margarito barely blinked at. The challenger

continued his non-stop punching and caught Cotto with a left and right uppercut

causing him to take a knee with 1:39 remaining.

 

An absolute bloody mess, Cotto bravely rose

immediately to take an eight count and face his fate. He landed the best hooks

he could muster, and clinched when he saw once again they had no effect. Completely spent, he backed up from the pursuing Magarito and took another knee before getting hit again, prompting his corner to throw in the towel with :55 seconds remaining.

 Antonio Margarito proved many wrong, including

myself, who thought Cotto could weather the late storm to eek out a decision.

This was a great win for Antonio, who slowly broke down the former champion and

showed that his chin is absolute granite. Nothing Cotto threw all night hurt

him.

 

Margarito is already being praised on message boards for his constant pressure and non-stop punching, but he should also get credit for his great defense to the body. Cotto, a great body puncher, could find no openings to Margarito’s torso due to the new champ’s elbows being tucked

tightly and his long arms. Occasionally in the fight you saw Cotto pushed

forward looking for the body shot only to realize there weren’t any openings.

 

In the post-fight interview, Margarito called out

Oscar De La Hoya, as everyone does. While it would be a great fight, I doubt

Oscar would want such a taxing fight to end his career, especially since the

possibly of a loss would be very high. Still, the Golden Boy has taken on most

of the biggest challenges available to him, so it remains to be seen.

 

Years ago, Floyd Mayweather bluntly told Margarito

he was making smart decisions, and that the Mexican vet should follow his lead.

He also promised that if Margarito kept winning he would get a shot as the

potential fight between them would be bigger down the road.

What Floyd said made sense, but the only problem

now is that Money May is retired. Could the buzz from Margarito’s performance

be enough to entice Mayweather out of retirement? We’ll have to wait until the

PPV numbers come back.

 

And let’s not forget Paul Williams, who recently

regained his WBO title and outpointed Margarito last year. An obvious

unification bout should be a top agenda for both their promoters.

 

As for Miguel Cotto, let’s not start with the

cries of overrated and that he quit. The man fought his heart out to the best

of his boxing ability, offensively and defensively. He deserves a lot of

respect for his effort. However, the HBO team went overboard by acting is if a

funeral had just occurred. The shots of Cotto’s crying wife and son, along with

the ending montage and Jim Lampley holding back tears was a little much.

 

Lacy

Escapes with Decision, Decides to Retire

 

Last Wednesday July 23 former champion Jeff Lacy

returned for what was supposed to be an exhibition bout against journeyman

Epifanio Mendoza. Instead, the fight was a life and death war with Lacy nearly

being KO’d in the second and eighth rounds despite scoring a knockdown in the fourth.

After escaping with an unpopular majority decision, Lacy announced his

retirement due to what he considers unfair terms in a potential fight with

Jermain Taylor. For his last fight, Lacy received a purse of $550,000. For the

proposed Taylor bout, he was offered $500,000.

 

“What do I look like fighting a fight of that

caliber for $500,000 when I have more to risk that anything,” Lacy fumed to the

Tampa Tribune. “I feel like Taylor needs me more than I need him and what do I look like fighting that fight for $500,000 and risking my life in there like I did Wednesday night because the referee is not on top of this guy hitting me in the back of the head.”

 

It seems Lacy forgot to mention that it was more

so the repeated uppercuts on the inside over ten rounds that really hurt him in

that bout. Watching that fight, it’s clear the combination of the torn rotator

cuff on his left arm, the inactivity, and the Calzaghe beating have robbed the

former rising star of his abilities. His balance, punching power, and stamina

were all fell short in that fight. It’s probably best we don’t see Lacy in

there with Taylor. Watch the full fight and judge for yourself:

 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

 

Judah-Clottey

on Tap for August 2

 

This Saturday HBO has a promising matchup between

Zab Judah (36-5, 25 KOs) and Joshua Clottey (34-2, 20 KOs) for the IBF

welterweight title. Due to Zab’s documented history of fading and losing focus

in the second half of fights, Clottey will be the favorite. But, if Zab can

keep his focus he has a shot of pulling this off since he has a marked speed

advantage.

 

Then again, haven’t we been saying that for the

past couple years about Zab? Prediction here is the more durable Clottey by

decision. On Showtime, Vic Darchinyan (29-1-1, 23 KOs) will look to get back

into title contention by defeating Dimitri Kirilov (29-3-1, 9 KOs).

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