Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito - I pick ........ to win!

cotto vs margaritoBy Paul Strauss: You fill in the "blank". Before you do, consider a few things about each combatant. Let's take Miguel first. He's undefeated, having turned away anyone and everyone thrown at him. He is blessed with a great demeanor for fighting, a cold unemotional killer instinct. He truly views the task at hand as a business, or a job. He doesn't need to motivate himself by listening to trash talk, or attempt to use it himself. He coolly leaves incidentals to his trainer, manager and promoter. He concentrates on winning, and part of that concentration involves improving with each outing, bringing something new and improved for his opponents to worry about. .

That's why he is not concerned about such things as, "How will you fight Margarito? What style will you use?" He is not concerned, because he knows he can do so many different things in the ring.. He can depend on his hand speed, or he can depend on his foot speed. He might use a long, hard jab more in this fight, or he might loop his punches to get around a peek-a-boo defense. If necessary, he can change effortlessly to a southpaw stance, and deliver right hooks, and long straight lefts just as hard and fast as he can from the orthodox stance. What about body punching? Yep, he can cripple his opponents with crunching left hooks to the liver, or other vulnerable spots. He's be hurt, but still pulls it together to come out victorious, and he now seems to be fighting at his natural weight. He no longer has to weaken himself drying out to make weight. Sure, there are distractions in his life such as some domestic problems, and disagreements with his uncle/trainer. But, Miguel seems to have that unusual ability to block out things when it comes to fight time, and concentrate on the task at hand.

Surely that means he is going to win, right? Not so fast. Let's look at what the Tijuana Tornado brings to the table. First of all, he has a considerable size advantage. He is 5'11" with a 73" reach versus Cotto's 5'7" height and 67" reach. Critics will say he's tasted defeat, and Cotto hasn't, but if you look closer at his record, you will discover his only recent loss was the close decision to Paul Williams. He learned his lesson in that fight about waiting too long to mount his attack. As a result, he came roaring back with the one round destruction of Golden Johnson, and then the 6 Round KO of Kermit Cintron. To find another defeat, you have to go back to 2004, when he lost a TD on a cut. Before that, you have to search way back to 1996. He's been fighting professionally since he was 15 yrs old! When you look up warrior in the encyclopedia, you might find a picture of this guy. He definitely has been hardened over time. It's been said that both Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Shane Mosley turned down attractive offers to fight Antonio. Would you want to fight him? Geez, this guy has a world class chin. He is fearless. He is relentless, constantly pressuring his opponent. He throws hard punches from every imagined angle, and a few you can't even imagine. He conquers speed with timing and pressure. He deflates power with toughness, and he draws on emotion for strength. That might be the biggest key of all.

I remember Hall of Fame football coach Bud Grant once saying that he didn't believe in trying to motivate his players before a game. He felt they were professionals, and didn't need it. Miguel Cotto would probably agree, seconding the fact that it's his job, and that he trains for his job, and that it doesn't matter who he is fighting, etc.

I agree to a certain extent; however, when you reach the championship game or fight, chances are you and your opponent probably are on pretty much the same level of talent, with strengths and weaknesses varying somewhat. Consequently, if you can get an edge of some kind, it might mean the difference in winning or losing.

Athletes, coaches and fans know this and have seen different techniques used to get this ethereal edge. Some attempt to intimidate their opponent. Scratch that with either one of these guys. Others will trash talk, possibly in hopes of creating some kind of self-doubt in their opponentís mind.......i.e. Ali whispering in his opponent's ear......"Is that all you've got? Can't you hit any harder than that?" But, with Antonio, the emotional edge is more than fear or anger. It's almost spiritual, concerning his family and his place in Mexican boxing history. With him it seems to be such a strong feeling that it could move him physiologically to the extent that it will change him (positively) both mentally and physically to perform at his highest level, and possibly come away with the victory.

Have you gone out on a limb yet, and made your pick? Will the fight go the distance? If it does, who comes away with the decision? If there's a KO, which one landed the big punch? Don't even think about it ending due to an accidental head butt. That is unthinkable (but a possibility). It would be a terrible way for this match-up to go.

The odds-makers have Cotto as the favorite, but that shouldn't be a surprise, as he is undefeated, and he has continued to improve with each fight. Plus, he has had success against many different styles.

Yes, I am procrastinating. I truly don't want to see either one of these great fighters lose. But, as always, the true winners with great fights are going to be the fans.

I'm leaning hard towards Margarito and his great toughness and relentless style, and that all important emotion I mentioned, but in the end I have to go with Cotto. I think he will nullify the size difference with his speed and boxing ability. I think he will win by decision. Regardless, I canít wait for fight night, and I know itís going to be one to remember. Donít miss it!

Article posted on 22.07.2008

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