Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito II (Live Video Stream)
Its in Spanish for now…
Boxing fans, you must have been awfully good boys and girls this year. Santa Claus is bringing you an early Christmas present on Saturday night.
Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico will seek to avenge his 2008 loss to Antonio Margarito of Mexico for Cotto’s WBA Super Welterweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Garden is a sell-out, which is rare for a non-heavyweight fight. It shows the keen level of interest in what may be one of the most exciting, action-packed bouts of 2011.
Puerto Rican fans will be squarely behind their native son, who is looking for justice after his bloody beating three years ago by Margarito, resulting in an 11th round TKO. Cotto and his fans believe Margarito’s win was aided by the use of illegal hand wraps.
Margarito and his camp deny it, and nothing was proven. However, Margarito was caught with illegal hand wraps in 2009 prior to his fight with Shane Mosley, a fight he lost. He didn’t fight again for a year. When he did, he took a brutal beating by Manny Pacquiao. In the fight, his right orbital bone was broken and his eye had to be surgically repaired.
Margarito’s eye became an issue of concern for the New York State Athletic Commission in this fight. The Commission withheld Margarito’s license until he cleared another eye exam ten days ago in New York.
Cotto has a loss to Manny Pacquiao in common with Margarito since they last met. His November 2009 fight with Pacquiao was similar in that both Cotto and Margarito were both taken out handily by Pacquiao, though Cotto lasted one more round and got in some decent punishment against Pac-Man.
There hasn’t been such a heated rivalry in boxing for a long time. The ill will has been three years in the making and time has not healed any of Cotto’s wounds. Cotto and Margarito’s strong dislike of each other is the real deal. Cotto firmly believes Margarito is a cheater and played with his life. Margarito says it’s all trash talk and he’ll prove it. Things are so acrimonious the two fighters weren’t permitted to pose for the traditional face-to-face pre-fight publicity shots. Promoter Bob Arum stood between them.
Make no mistake: There will be blood Saturday night. If you are squeamish, don’t watch. These two both like to mix it up. They both take punishment well and will fight until they have nothing left.
Margarito says he’s going to fight Cotto the same way he did the first time, constantly pressing forward and working underneath with power. Margarito is working with trainer Robert Garcia for the second time.
Cotto is working with former Cuban Olympic boxing team coach Dr. Pedro Benitez, who defected and is working his first professional fight. Cotto ended his relationship with trainer Emmanuel Steward due to scheduling conflicts. Dr. Benitez works systematically and seems to have opened up new training techniques to Cotto. Cotto says he will use speed and conditioning along with upgraded footwork skills to move around Margarito, inflicting damage while working to avoid getting hit by Margarito inside at close range.
Cotto, age 31, is 36-2 (29), with his only losses to Pacquiao and Margarito. Margarito, age 33, is 38-7 (27). Cotto weighed in at 152-1/4; Margarito at 154-1/2.
This fight should look a lot like the first one: demanding, relentless, and bloody. Margarito will be willing to take a lot of punches for the chance to bring a few well-chosen blows against Cotto. In the later rounds all semblance of skill and technique could go out the window and the fight might become an all-out brawl.
The unknown factor is the condition of Margarito’s right eye. Cotto has admitted that if Margarito presents the opportunity, Cotto will go after the weak eye. Margarito brushes off questions about his eye, but if he feels the slightest bit protective or concerned and becomes distracted by it, it may give Cotto an advantage.
In the end, I don’t believe Cotto will need any advantage. He is fueled by a sense of righting a wrong, seeking justice for what happened to him in 2008. As long as he can channel his fury, he should win a brutal, close fight in the later rounds, perhaps with a TKO. Boxing fans, it’s the Twelve Rounds of Christmas