There were many questions as Antonio Margarito and
Miguel Cotto made their way to the ring on Saturday July 26. Which force was
stronger, Cottos higher skill or Margaritos relentless pressure? Was it
Antonios size or Miguels 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 Margaritos head. The challenger was showing
cautious respect early, and Cotto used that and his quickness to double up left
hooks to Antonios 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 Margaritos 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 werent landed flush
and flashy like Cottos, the challengers 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
Margaritos 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 Cottos 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. Cottos movement began to labor, and Magarito continued his excellent hook body attack against the ropes. Now Cottos 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 Antonios power. With his
lateral movement returning, Cotto was very successful and snapped Margaritos
head back with counters between Margaritos punches. In a psychological tactic,
Margarito would gingerly trot towards Cotto after getting hit to emphasize he
wasnt 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 Miguels body and head. Now, the champion
was noticeably being moved physically by the damage of punches. Sensing Cotto
was weakening, Margaritos 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 challengers 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
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 Margaritos torso due to the new champs 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 werent 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 Margaritos performance
be enough to entice Mayweather out of retirement? Well have to wait until the
PPV numbers come back.
And lets 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, lets 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 Cottos crying wife and son, along with
the ending montage and Jim Lampley holding back tears was a little much.
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 KOd 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, its 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. Its probably best we dont see Lacy in
there with Taylor. Watch the full fight and judge for yourself:
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 Zabs 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
Then again, havent 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).