Knockout Nation: Cotto Crushin'/Margarito Mashin'/The Greatest of All Time!

Cotto and Margarito Deliver in Showcase Bouts

An uncharacteristically cocky Miguel Cotto (32-0, 26 KOs) brutalized overmatched Alfonso Gomez (18-4-2, 8 KOs) this past Saturday to retain his WBA welterweight title.

From the opening bell, Cotto showed he’s several classes above Gomez, ripping the brave Contender alum with thudding body hooks and jabs. Gomez’s attempts to retaliate were futile as Cotto was deftly able to avoid the right hand with swift footwork. Realizing Gomez had no chance to hurt him, Cotto began to showboat. After ripping Gomez with a left to the body and head at the end of round one, Cotto stared down Gomez before heading back to his corner.

Rounds 2-5 continued the assault, with Cotto bolo punching and dropping Gomez with a light right to the body in the second. Gomez protested the apparent slip, only to be deposited again in the third with a hard left hook to the body. After being worked over in the fourth, Gomez again tasted the canvas in fifth, this time from a simple jab. The ringside doctor has seen enough before the sixth, and stopped the bout to prevent further punishment to the game but hopelessly overmatched Gomez.

Avoided welterweight Antonio Margarito (36-5, 26 KOs) made good on his promise by bludgeoning Kermit Cintron (29-2, 27 KOs) for the second time in three years to capture the IBF welterweight title. While Cintron showed improvement from the first fight, his lack of head movement and inability to handle Margarito on the inside caused the powerful slugger to succumb to the non-stop pressure.

In round one Cintron clubbed Margarito with clean right hands, the kind that would stop most other welterweights. Margarito just smiled and continued the pressure, outworking Cintron on the inside with vicious hooks to the body and uppercuts.

Round 2-3 saw more of the same, as Margarito was increasingly getting to the inside while shrugging off the occasional right hand bombs Cintron would land.

By the fifth, Margarito had cut Cintron and was now surgically cutting down Cintron on the inside with body shots. In the sixth, Margarito stunned Cintron with a straight right before landing a clean left hook to the liver, ruining what remained of Cintron’s fighting spirit as he crumpled to the canvas. Paralyzed by the shot, Cintron was counted out.

Ever the matchmaking strategist, promoter Bob Arum’s card gave both winners the perfect opponents to make them both seem unbeatable. The table is now set for a PPV showdown on July 26th between Cotto and Margarito for Cotto’s WBA title. Margarito will likely vacate the IBF title since Joshua Clottey will be the mandatory for that organization. The fight promises to be chock full of hard punching and fireworks.

I expect Cotto to win a clear decision against the larger, but limited Margarito. Margarito does very well against stationary targets, but Cotto will utilize superior lateral movement to launch his attacks. Plus, Cotto’s straighter, faster punches will serve him well whenever Margarito succeeds in cornering him. While it’s not Cotto-Mayweather, Cotto-Margarito is a fan-friendly fight that’ll only increase the demand for Money Mayweather and the Puerto Rican assassin to meet their destiny in 2009.

Tarver Returns to Form, Dawson Lucky

Boisterous Antonio Tarver finally backed up his words with a dominant win over Clinton Woods to capture the IBF light heavyweight title.

The bout represented Tarver’s best performance since his win over Glen Johnson back in 2005.Woods was baffled all night by Tarver’s strong southpaw jab, straight left and lateral movement.

Whenever Woods did succeed in getting close to Tarver, he was rewarded with left uppercuts.

By the mid rounds a wary Woods was content to follow Tarver around without letting his hands go or attempting to truly press the fight for a KO.

Scorecards for the bout were 116-112, 117-111, and 119-109 all for Tarver.

WBC Light Heavyweight champ Chad Dawson escaped with a controversial win over tough veteran Glen Johnson.

In the early rounds Dawson did well with quick combinations from the outside. But by the middle rounds Johnson began coming on strong by taking the fight inside and punishing Dawson with debilitating right hands to the head.

In the championship rounds, the fight was on the table and Johnson responded by outworking a champion 14 years his junior in rounds 10-12. With such a strong finish, it seemed secure that Johnson had taken a clear decision.

However in what has become the story of his career, the judges saw Johnson’s fight differently.

The scorecards all read 116-112 for Dawson.

In the postfight interview, Dawson dodged any talk of a rematch while Johnson bemoaned another bad decision loss on his ledger.

I predicted Dawson to win, but I felt Johnson’s pressure and cleaner punching in the championship rounds secured him the win. Dawson’s still young at 25 and made a good account of himself. But he should use this fight as a barometer to analyze the defensive liabilities he needs to tighten up.

Check out Tarver bringing church to the post fight conference.

Hopkins and Calzaghe Settle Matters This Weekend

The time for talk is over. Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe battle for the lineal light heavyweight title this Saturday this HBO. Both men have reportedly had great camps, and there should be no excuses by whoever comes up short.

Calzaghe had the edge in speed and workrate, while Hopkins is superior on the inside and does well in timing southpaws (Hopkins is undefeated against lefties). Last month I felt confident in picking Calzaghe by unanimous decision and I will stick with that pick, although I’m a little less confident. Hopkins will make this an ugly fight, complete with headbutts, elbows, and low blows. It’s possible these tactics can take Calzaghe out his game (like what happened against Sakio Bika). Winky Wright also succumbed to these tactics as well once a Hopkins headbutt ripped open a nasty cut.

However, Hopkins tendency to start slow should allow Calzaghe the opportunity to bag enough early rounds to take the fight. It should be a nice bout for the purists.

Throwback fighter of the Week

Weekly I’m going to be showcasing a video on a great fighter of yesteryear. This week we’ll kick off with the pound for pound king and the consensus greatest fighter of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson. Enjoy.