Is HBO Ready To Rumble?, It's Showtime: Fight Breakdowns For Margarito-Cintron, Cotto-Gomez, Dawson-Johnson, and Tarver-Woods

12.04.08 - By Vivek Wallace: Saturday night the world of boxing heats up as both HBO and Showtime have put together very stellar fight cards which will go a long way in narrowing down two of the sports more interesting divisions. On HBO, fight fans will see what is viewed by most as a welterweight eliminator, as the two men who emerge victorious after the two fights will eventually square off to decide the winner of the official 'Money' Mayweather sweepstakes. The Showtime card will display an eliminator of sorts as well, as fight fans will watch Clinton Woods square off against Antonio Tarver, along with 'young gun' Chad Dawson against Veteran Glen Johnson..

As we continue our 'countdown-to-first-round' we'll not only preview the fights, but also take a look at keys to victory, and result predictions where some have openly discussed two possible upsets in the making.

Margarito-Cintron (Analysis/Keys To Victory): Few have actually noted the fact that Cintron actually outboxed Margarito early in the first fight, only to see Margarito turn up the heat and smother him which allowed him to eventually to take the fight over. The same strategy Margarito used then is what he will need to employ tonight. He will need to apply constant pressure, frustrating Cintron, which could lead to mental errors. He will aslo need to employ some of the defense that his team emphasized in fight camp. Few give Kermit Cintron much of a chance - initially, myself included - but as I reviewed the initial encounter between the two fighters, it was clear that Cintron was a victim to the mental aspect of the fight moreso than the physical. Even when he lost, it was clear that his ego was more bruised than his body. Margarito will need to come in and fight a much more complete fight if he wishes to overcome a more matured and hopefully more stablized Cintron. Patience will be a major factor for Margarito. I expect Emanuel Steward - one of the sports best corner strategist - to employ a strategy heavy with jabs to nullify the pressure, so head-movement and well timed shots will be exactly what the doctor ordered if Margo plans to walk out on top. Most considered the first encounter to be a disaster for Cintron, but one must also note that he had not been active for approximately 9 months due to surgery on his right hand, he had only been fighting for 5 years, and under those circumstances he took on the divisions most seasoned vet with questions about the durability of his main weapon looming in the back of his head. For a young fighter with stripped confidence, that creates a recipe for disaster. This time around, Cintron will need to set the tone early by not only taking those shots from Margarito, but standing in the pocket and landing effective ones of his own. If he can do that and get Margarito to second-guess his gameplan of applying pressure, I see this fight going to Cintron.

Prediction: Margarito by SD
Cintron will have his moments, but fail to do enough as Margarito keeps the heat on and earns a close points victory.

Cotto-Gomez (Analysis/Keys To Victory): We all know that Cotto has the goods, but in this fight, contrary to popular belief, Cotto will need to bring his mental A-game. After reviewing 6 fights from Gomez's fight catalog, two things became abundantly clear to me about him. He's a thinking fighter, and he lives for the big stage. Footwork will be pivotal for Cotto. He had better know that if he gets lazy with his footwork and commits himself too much trying to land a headshot, the uppercut that he takes in return will be the one to floor him. Judah and Mosley - the two biggest names on Cotto's resume' - both were categorically listed as better fighters, but both take too many shots to land a couple. Here, Cotto will not be able to land as easily due to Gomez's slippery defense and the obvious reach advantage. Oktay Urkal wasn't as good as Judah or Mosley but some may remember how his awkward style forced the fight into late rounds because Cotto couldn't hit him too flush. Consider Gomez a taller, bigger, and much more skilled version of Urkal. The key to victory tonight is all about the footwork and ring smarts for Cotto. His problem lies with him getting caught in an awkward position that would compromise his balance. This fight I think may answer some questions and perhaps raise many more when all said and done. For Gomez, this is an 'anthem' fight that could lead to a watershed moment. And the troubling thing for Cotto is that Gomez realizes this. I was one of the many that initially saw this fight as a busy fight for Cotto with no real implications. As they say in the NFL - After further review - I firmly stand corrected. Gomez is a one of those rare fighters that lives for the 'spoiler' role. This notion was solidified by ESPN's Dan Rafael who wrote a piece speaking of him being an afterthought who accidentally made it back on the final cut of the reality 'Contender' show after initial dismissal, only to have career catapaulting moments later on the show. He also spoke of how Gomez derailed Gatti's plans of facing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Somewhere in the back of Gomez's mind is the fact that Cotto is waiting for a showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. He comes in with very little notoriety, everyone expects him to lose, and the guy he's facing already has a date with the winner of the co-headlining fight. This is the type of 'trap' fight that effectively melted "Iron" Mike Tyson when he ran up against Buster Douglas who faced even stiffer odds. The Gomez fight camp has openly noted and emphasized the necessity to 'hurt and close'. He has stated to the media that he has seen guys who are far less talented hurt Cotto, then back off out of respect for Cotto's "left hand". Gomez has made it utterly clear that when he lands a thunderous uppercut that throws Cotto off, he won't let up 'til the jobs done. Keys to victory for Gomez will be to use his jab reach to nullify Cotto's aggressiveness by keeping him off balance, and his size to occassionally wear on him and tire him out. Some say that Gomez won't be a factor in the late rounds because he has never gone beyond 10. I would respond by saying that that didn't affect Kelly Pavlik's chances of defeating Taylor in a fight that extended him to the twelvth round in a career first. To quote Cotto's promoter Bob Arum, "Gomez has taken the [firm] approach that he'll pull off the big upset so maybe he will; That's boxing". If I could quickly correct Arum, that's not just boxing....An upset of that proportion would be career busting for Arum's top stable-horse whose currently being touted as the welterweight divisions 'best-to-never-face-the-best'.

Prediction: Cotto by Split Decision
I've only predicted against Cotto once in my life and that was against Shane Mosley; However, for the first time, I'm just not certain that the things surrounding him haven't gotten the best of him. The problems in his fight camp, a preset date with another fighter. A 'trap' fight in every sense of the word. If Floyd Mayweather Jr. was looking for an easy out against Cotto, tonight he gets it, as the Puerto Rican warrior fails to deliver. I won't say that Cotto will lose, but if he does win, I think it'll be in less than spectacular fashion which will further deplete the chances of a match with Mayweather any time soon. A hungry and very slippery fighter will make for an ugly effort from Cotto which means that even if he wins, ultimately on this night Cotto loses.

Tarver-Woods (Analysis/Keys To Victory):
Tonight Tarver will try to sell the world on why his last marquee victory (Jones) was no fluke, and why his last loss (Hopkins) was. Standing across from him will be a fighter whose skillset is far better than Tarver seems to be giving him credit for. If Tarver plans to make good on his prediction to win, he'll need to show the same type of hunger that he displayed against rival Roy Jones Jr. Tarver will need to keep sticking that jab out and mix his shots up. Woods isn't going to do Tarver any favors by being a standing target so Tarver is going to have to execute well. Woods is out to prove that he belongs amongst the light heavyweight elite and Tarver will find out that he's for real as the fight wears on. I expect woods to outslick Tarver in a chess match with very few fireworks. In the end, I think Tarver fatigues and fails to muster the energy necessary to come out on top.

Prediction: Woods by Split Decision
I just think that despite great moments, Tarver will tire out and fail to deliver the goods in the later rounds, losing a lead he will probably hold during the first 5 to 6 rounds of the fight.

Dawson-Johnson (Analysis/Keys To Victory)
This fight could be the upset of the day. As I prepared for this fight weekend I watched more footage on Alfonso Gomez and Chad Dawson than any of the other fighters. Gomez showed me that he's a better technical fighter than most think, and Dawson showed me - to a lesser degree - that he may not be. Dawson has amazinzg speed and strength, and is the superior athlete, but as I watched him in 3 of his previous fights, it became clear that his technical skillset has not quite caught up to his athleticism. One problem in particular of his is that he seems to be very open for the short right hand. His fight with Adamszek was the best display as he was caught so quickly that he didn't see the shot coming. That tells me that either his stamina or defense - or both - are off quite a bit. At the tender age of 24, stamina shouldn't be a problem. His problems lie more in his mechanics, and against a cagey veteran like Glen Johnson, that could prove fatal. Dawson will be the aggressor throughout the fight, but I see Johnson applying pressure as well, nullifying some of that speed and youth from Dawson. We know that Johnson won't be knocked out, so Dawson's best chance will be to stay busy and fight smart by conserving energy in the late rounds.

Prediction: Dawson by Unanimous Decision
In the end, I just see Dawson being too fast, basically outlanding Johnson throughout most of the fight. Despite a loss, i think that Johnson still does enough to keep his name in the thick of things. Oddly enough, I wouldn't totally rule out a Johnson shocker. The possibilites are evident.

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Article posted on 12.04.2008

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