Miguel Cotto is looking for revenge. In July of 2008, Cotto was handed his first professional loss by Antonio Margarito. We all know now that there’s a good chance Margarito cheated in that fight, as in his next fight he was caught trying to load his hand wraps with a plaster-like substance. Getting beaten for your first professional loss is bad enough, but to find out you may have been hoodwinked? Since the Margarito hand wrap controversy surfaced, many fight fans have felt cheated. But nobody more so than Cotto, who has waited a long time to get his due revenge on Margarito. Finally, on Saturday night he has that chance, as the two warriors will hook up at Madison Square Garden for one of the most anticipated fights of the year.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Cotto (36-2, 29 KO) will be to fight smart. And many observers believe that if Cotto does that, he’ll win. Neither fighter is what they used to be, as both have been through countless tough battles. But if recent history tells us anything, its that Cotto is still a lot closer to being an elite fighter than Margarito. Margarito’s (38-7, 27 KO) last notable victory came in the controversial win over Cotto in 2008, and the validity of it has been questioned. Since then, Margarito has been beaten badly by Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao, and won a single tune-up for the Pacquiao fight.
Cotto, while not defeating world-beaters, has stayed relevant. He jumped up to the 154-pound limit to win a title over the previously unbeaten but light-punching Yuri Foreman — the title Cotto will defend on Saturday. He defended it once over the brute Ricardo Mayorga, scoring a final round knockout. Outside of his questioned loss to Margarito, Cotto’s only defeat came to Pacquiao, at the height of his game, in Nov. of 2009.
But Margarito surely will be looking to prove that his win against Cotto should stand. Nobody will believe that he didn’t cheat in their first fight, but if he can defeat Cotto in the rematch, he can erase some doubts as to at least who’s better between the two. On top of that, whoever loses Saturday’s fight will be in a tough spot going forward with their career, if they so choose to. The winner gets a chance to move on to a crop of talented fighters at the super welterweight limit, perhaps Canelo Alvarez or James Kirkland.
In their first fight, Cotto dominated the early going. He bagged the first few rounds but couldn’t finish Margarito, who has proved that he’ll keep coming forward at all costs. Margarito started to turn the fight in his favor and took the middle and late rounds before stopping Cotto in the 11th. I think Saturday’s fight will start very similarly to their first fight, but I don’t expect Margarito to be able to make a comeback. He simply isn’t the fighter he used to be, and his digression is much wider than Cotto’s. Cotto is the superior boxer, and as Margarito’s gotten older, he’s gotten slower. Never a blinder to begin with, at this point he’s shockingly slow. As long as Cotto can stay off the ropes, utilize lateral movement and pop off combinations, he should take the day. Margarito’s surgically repaired right eye will be both a target for Cotto and a point of attention for referee Steve Smoger. I expect Cotto to pepper that eye, break down Margarito, and force a stoppage. Miguel Cotto by 10th round TKO