Cotto-Margarito: An Irresistible Force Colliding With an Immovable Object
16.07.08 - By Ted Sares: Not since the classic shoot-out between Mexican legend Salvador Sanchez and Puerto Rican bomber Wilfredo Gomez in 1981 have I anticipated a fight more. Once again, two tough-as-nails guys will be meeting in a clash of titans. And again, one is from boxing crazy Puerto Rico; the other from boxing crazy Mexico.
Article posted on 17.07.2008
Some say the result of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object is an indescribable collision, but Iwill try to describe what I think might happen on July 26 when these two immensely popular fighters collide at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
A Clash of Styles
Miguel 'Junito' Cotto is 32-0 (KO 26) and brutalized his last opponent.. Antonio 'Tony' Margarito, 36-5 (KO 26, slaughtered his last foe. Both can render tremendous punishment (Cotto over Carlos Quintana and Alfonzo Gomez, and Margorito over Sebastian Andres Lujan and Kermit Cintron).
A taller Margarito, 5' 11, with a superior arm reach advantage of six inches, is an in-coming pressure fighter who simply does not back up and fights mostly flat-footed. He uses an incredibly high punch volume to break his opponents down in savage and relentless fashion. Cotto, at 5' 7, also is a pressure fighter ala a Jake LaMotta (though perhaps stronger than Jake relatively speaking) and uses punishing body work with a 'stalk, stun and kill' mentality. Importantly, his technical skills have improved over his last few fights. He now possesses better footwork and showed a vastly improved ability to feint and throw sharp and faster combos against both Mosley and a terribly mismatched Gomez. Cotto's best punch has always been the left hook, but against Sugar Shane (of all people), he displayed an excellent jab around which he can now dominate fights. The fact is, Cotto is on the verge of becoming a far more complete package.
Neither fighter is known for great defense, but Cotto seems more open to counters and uppercuts than Margarito, and that could be key given Tony's propensity to launch those types of punches.
Bottom line: A bigger Margarito has fewer dimensions than Cotto and lacks Junito's superior timing, but Cotto has never faced a welterweight of this size..
Level of Opposition
Cotto has fought far better opposition having beaten several former world champions. These include Sugar Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, DeMarcus Corley (TKO5), Randall Bailey (TKO6), Carlos Maussa (TKO8), and Cesar Bazan (TKO11). He also beat, in particularly frightening fashion, previously undefeated Carlos Quintana (TKO5). Other victims include Paulie Malignaggi (W12), Ricardo Torres (KO7), and Kelson Pinto (TKO6), as well as contenders Muhammad Abdulaev (TKO9), Victoriano Sosa (TKO4) and Lovemore Ndou (W12). Thatfs an impressive list.
Tony Margarito has a KO parentage of 61.9 against the likes of Kermit Cintron (twice), Golden Johnson, Sebastian Andres Lujan, Andrew Lewis, David Kamau, Antonio Diaz, and Sergio Gabriel Martinez. His first round icing of Manuel Gomez in 2006 showcased Tony at his explosive best. But--and this is a big but--he has tasted defeat several times, most notably to Top contender Paul Williams and a rejuvenated Daniel Santos. His win over an improving Joshua Clottey in 2006 was less than compelling.
Bottom line: Unlike the stock market, past performance may not be a major factor in judging the outcome of this fight. Both are coming in at their prime and both will be appropriately motivated. On paper, a significant edge to Cotto; in reality, Margo is as ready as he ever will be.
Margarito keeps moving forward to get inside his opponents where he can assault them both upstairs and downstairs, but wait, so does Cotto.
Margarito is big and strong and stalks his opponents around the ring until he tires them, takes them out of their rhythm, and then moves in for the close. He is a classic 'stalk, stun and kill' type of guy, but again, so is Cotto who himself is stocky and strong. Both are definitive closers with a strong will to prevail.
Cotto, with a very impressive KO percentage of 81.25, has never been stopped, but neither has Margarito. Margarito has one of the best chins in boxing. Cotto has been hurt on more than one occasion. DeMarcus Corley had him staggering and reeling in the third round of their 2005 fight until Cotto chopped down 'Chop Chop' in the fifth. Against Riccardo Torres, he again was badly hurt and seemingly on the brink of defeat, but somehow regrouped and took out Torres in the seventh round in their exciting brawl also in 2005.
Paul Williams was able to beat Margo by utilizing a disciplined fight plan and by staying on the outside keeping Tony at bay with a great volume of effective jabs. Cotto, in my view, is too small to emulate this strategy.
I see Margarito eventually luring Cotto into a slug fest, taking away his fight plan and with it, his focus. Against Sugar Shane Mosley, Cotto tired in the late rounds, but Mosley was too tired himself to capitalize. If this happens against Tony, it will prove fatal. However, I don't see the fight going that long.
With his superior size, I see the warrior from Tijuana getting stronger with each round and, with alternating brutal shots to the body and straight rights upstairs, imposing his will on Cotto by the sixth or seventh stanza. Once this occurs, he will be in a position to stagger his smaller opponent with either a debilitating shot to the liver or straight right to the temple. He then will close matters decisively around the eight or ninth round.
The explosive Margarito has never really been hurt. Conversely, Cotto has been hurt and badly so. Margarito is capable of dishing out big time pain--and once he has an opponent on the hook, he does allow him an escape route.
Still, no matter how the fight ends, it is guaranteed to be great, perhaps even with historical significance.
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