'Welter-Skelter': Mayweather, Cotto, Williams, Margarito And Cintron....a Very Scary 'Formidable Five'!

antonio margarito14.11.07 - By Vivek Wallace: Damn....Is this not a helluva time to be a boxing fan? Only days after the Mosley/Cotto showdown, fight fans who follow the neck-deep talent in the welterweight division still find themselves ablaze knowing that the best has still yet to come. Analyzing the division, at a distance, it looks like a '3-Horse' race, but the one thing I've noticed, slowly but surely, is that possible legends-to-be are born in this division on a near fight by fight basis.

A perfect example of this was when Antonio Margarito -- once seen as the man who none of the perennial 'players' in the division wanted to face -- received his chance to display his skill set in front of the masses. After a bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. failed to materialize and no one else stepped up to the plate, the only challenger who was brave enough to prove his mettle against such a formidable opponent was the relatively unknown at the time, and even less comprehensible Paul Williams.

Eager to show his worth, Williams put up a performance that would quickly solidify his position in the sports deepest division.

Aside from Paul Williams and Antonio Margarito, other front runners who could make a huge splash in 2008 include the revamped Kermit Cintron, and the up and coming Andre Berto (20-0, 17KO's). Standing in the Tier 2 group would be the Zab Judah's (35-5, 25KO's), Joshua Clottey's (32-2, 19KO's), and Luis Collazo's (27-3, 13KO's) of the world. Entrenched in the 'shotgun seats' would be none other than Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto. Considering that there are clearly (5) frontrunner's, the purpose of this piece is to help analyze the odds of each man, as it relates to his chances to rise from the ashes, and stand amidst the smoke of a flaming division.

Floyd Mayweather Jr (38-0, 24KO's) .: Love him or hate him, this young lad has a skill set that few others in the history of the sport have ever possessed. Raw speed...Amazing footwork...Throwback defense...and Deceptive power. All of those things mentioned and we still have yet to address perhaps the one thing that makes him totally dangerous for a guy who doesn't possess one punch knock out power....His mind. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is one of the best 'in-fight' thinkers I've personally ever watched, making adjustments per encounter, instead of per round like typical boxers. Every engagement, every step of the way in his fights you can see his strategy laid out in a tailor made fashion for whatever his opponent is doing. Against Gotti we saw him brawl, against Castillo in a very close fight we saw him remain calm amidst a storm, against Zab Judah we saw him overcome raw speed. The totality of it all is that he continues to elevate his game as the opponents change. Although his bark tends to be more aggressive than his bite -- which his cynics absolutely hate -- there is no denying that this man's talent as a whole remains unparalleled. We get to see his skills at work again very soon in this years culminating mega fight which features the UK's very special Ricky Hatton.

Miguel Cotto (31-0, 25KO's): After Saturday night's showdown, what is there left to say. This a a guy who was once viewed as sheltered and if it was true, that simply makes his recent dominating performance that much more special. We've seen him shaken, we've seen him hurt, we've seen him fall, but one thing we've never seen would be a time when this man EVER backed down. He hasn't always looked great, but he's answered every question with a solid performance and elevated his game time after time. Who would have ever thought that he would be able to out jab one of the sports fastest, most conditioned athletes? His heart, will, and determination is as real as it gets and with his 'stalk-until-they-can't-walk' demeanor, what element to his game is there not to like? What's even scarier is that he has become very dominant and we have yet to see his prime. His chances of unseating Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the 'Man' in this division could be closer than most believe and the likelihood of them answering that question all rest on Mayweathers upcoming fight. Should be interesting.

Paul Williams (33-0, 24KO's) : Floyd Mayweather Jr. is fast. Miguel Cotto is fast with power. Paul Williams is fast, has adequate power, height, reach, length, stamina, heart, can take a shot.....OK, you get the picture. Not to say some of the other guys don't have these qualities but this guy is easily the equivalence of a handicap match for anyone pretty much. His natural assets make it almost unfair for various fighters in the sport today. Paul Williams' fight against the 'Tijuana Tornado', Antonio Margarito, was merely the tip of the iceberg of his potential, and the fact that he's only 26 tells me that when this guy does peak, it could be a sad day for fellow welterweights. Some see Paul as still a bit 'raw', but his current goods are more than enough to nullify anything an opponent can bring to the table. That doesn't mean he beats them all, but it does say that he comes into the ring with more intangibles than any of them. Yes, Cotto can stalk and use his power to wear an opponent down, but with Williams' work rate and considerably longer reach, how does Cotto penetrate? Same thing with Floyd. This time next year we may very well be raving about a mega fight with this guy, providing he can get past Kermit Cintron which won't be a walk in the park.

Kermit Cintron (28-1, 26KO's): After his debacle at the hands of Antonio Margarito, few wondered if Cintron would ever be the same. Enter hall-of-fame trainer Emmanuel Steward, and suddenly the status of a shaky fighter becomes automatically stabilized. Cintron has always been known for his power, but on top of his ability to 'crack', Cintron has added some very solid technique that not only makes it harder to hit him, but with the use of his newly added jab, also harder to rebound from being hit too often from him. In a sense it's hard to gauge Cintron's true worth. This issue stems from the fact that of his 29 opponents, 26 failed to stand for the final bell. This tells us that he's either (A) Cintron's never faced any true formidable opponents, or (B) Margarito has a helluva chin, because only he and Jesus Felipe Valverde avoided the KO. Cintron certainly appears to be poised for better days ahead but we'll know all we need to know about him when his scheduled February 2nd against Paul Williams comes to fruition. My hopes -- and this probably speaks for half the fight aficionado's out there -- is that Mayweather beats Hatton and squares off against Cotto, with the winner facing an eventual Cintron/Williams victor....Which will be much to the dismay of this guy..........

Antonio Margarito (32-5, 25KO's): The most skilled fighter of the bunch?....Nope, actually, very far from. But one of the hardest hitting with the ability to deal with the 'hardest hitting' makes him a stablemate of the others, mos def. Although many thought he squandered his opportunity to be among the elite when he fell victim to Paul Williams, you have to question what would the current career of the other four guys look like if they had to endure this same rite of passage to get to the promise land. There's a reason why Cotto didn't fight him sooner. There's a reason why Floyd didn't fight him sooner. And there's a reason why Cintron never came back for seconds. The reason for all of those guys?, simple.....Extremely too much risk, and simply not enough reward. Margarito's performance last Saturday night would have meant more if it wasn't against a 'cupcake', but the fast start spoke volumes. It appears that Margo has polished his act a bit and is poised to contend, but like always, even after the loss to Williams, the operative question is....WHO WILL STEP UP? No one wanted the tamed version of Margo, so it'll be awfully interesting to see who hops in the 'great blue abyss' with an agitated version after his loss. Definitely one to keep an eye on.

When it's all said and done, styles do make fights, and each of these guys come into the ring with intangibles that the others don't have. Miguel Cotto recently showed us that any of these men can go into a fight with all the odds against them and in the end still have his hand held high. By the time these five square off and leave one, the young Andre Berto, and perhaps a few others will have solidified their position to challenge that last man standing. A star on the rise, Berto's story is one for another day, but one thing for sure, whomever he battles will also find himself in against a very foreign object with intent to thrill. The more I think of the material just laid out, the more I want to end this piece the way it all here goes....In unison fellas....Damn, is this not a helluva time to be a boxing fan?

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Article posted on 14.11.2007

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