Cotto-Margarito: Great Moments Of Triumph In The Face Of Adversity
By Vivek Wallace: On the evening of Saturday, July 26th, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, fight fans around the world will witness a showdown between two of its most intriguing figures. Despite vastly different paths to reach this pinnacle, there is no denying that both men are equally deserving of all the accolades and fan adulation that come along with the territory of finally making it here. In Miguel Cotto, you have a Puerto Rican fighter who has continued to elevate his game at each level, silencing critics while establishing new fans. In Antonio Margarito you have a fighter whom to many should be recognized as the face of this generation of Mexican fighters, yet for some odd reason, his name has never really caught up with his talent in that regard. Although both men stand ready for battle at the highest peak of the welterweight mountain, most of us who have followed them know that this wasn't always the case. Today, we take a look back at key moments in the careers of Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto that defined the way that we all see them. In the life of every 'great one' there's some rite of passage. We now examine the very moments that solidified the entrance through that gateway for these two brave warriors..
Article posted on 22.07.2008
SEPT. 24, 2005/RICARDO TORRES: Coming into this fight, most in the Cotto camp knew that despite his undefeated record, he would be tested like he probably had never been tested in his career. Not only was he facing an undefeated fighter, but he was facing arguably the most brutal puncher in his weight class. Forever the proverbial quiet-storm, an emotionless Miguel Cotto came out at the bell straight after Ricardo Torres, shooting a stiff jab and landing swift, ripping combinations. With 1:38 remaining in the 1st round, Cotto would hit pay dirt, landing a flush left-hook that put Torres down to the canvas. Seemingly convinced that he had what it took to handle his opponent, it wouldn't take too long for Miguel Cotto himself to grasp the reality of the situation as only moments later in the same round, he was jolted by a thunderous right hand by the hard-punching Colombian. After gathering himself and finding a way to elude destruction, Cotto was able to make it out of the round safely. That would be a sign of what was more to come, as Cotto was badly wobbled in the second round, including an assault that began with a vicious uppercut and swiftly ended near after with the first official knockdown of his career. At this point, many thought this would be the night that Puerto Rico's newest star would suddenly fade into oblivion, but in a sheer testament to his worth, not only did Cotto overcome multiple occasion's where he was clearly dazed and stunned, but after knocking his opponent down four times, he effectively went on to knock him out and claim a 7th round KO victory. On this night, every nation around the fight world found what Puerto Rico had known long ago, and a star was born. This was the point that many believe the young Cotto earned his stripe as of valiant heart. A characteristic that can't be taught, but instead is only assembled within those born within that higher echelon of the sport.
NOV. 10, 2007/SHANE MOSLEY: After demonstrating his heart to the fight world, many fights later, Miguel Cotto came to find his stock on the rise. Not only had he dismantled a group of tier two level fighters, but he had also engaged in battle with one of the perennial figures in his division, the quick fisted Zab Judah. After enduring a slugfest with Judah, filled with a few trying moments and lowblows, the stakes would raise a bit higher as Cotto's next assignment was an aging, but still very durable future Hall of Famer. The fact that Miguel Cotto had already defeated a fast fighter was clearly a step in the right direction, but this assignment was not only fast, but extremely intelligent in the ring, which previously credited him as the only man in the sport to twice defeat Oscar De La Hoya. We all knew that Cotto could brawl and let his hands fly, but there was no secret that in order to secure a victory on this night, he'd have to be a superior boxer to a man that a precious few had ever been blessed to still a round from, let alone soundly defeat. To the surprise of fight fans around the globe, Miguel Cotto would do just that in a firestorm display of talent that few knew he had within him. Aside from a tough moment in the 3rd round that saw him get nailed with his opponents best shot of the night, Cotto did more than enough to secure the victory, out landing his opponent 37% to 32%. Shane Mosley had spent many of his recent years above the welterweight limit and had come back down from the jr. middleweight ranks to take this fight. Despite the perception that he was the bigger man, it was Miguel Cotto that carried the true weight in the ring. Few believed that Cotto had this type of boxing skill within his arsenal but after this victory, it was very clear that there was little to nothing that he can't do in the ring. This victory removed all doubt about everything from his chin, to his stamina, to his speed, to his skill. The only question after this fight was the one pondering whether or not he could actually be stopped? Which is where his next opponent comes in.....
In the case of Miguel Cotto, overcoming those moments of adversity clearly defined his elevation in the sport, but in the case of Antonio Margarito, it wasn't quite that simple. His climb to the top can be measured more so by taking a glimpse at the total picture. Turning professional at age 15 and facing men nearly twice his age, the learning curve was much steeper, and typically, the punishment would never appear to fit the proverbial 'crime'. Despite knocking out his first 5 opponents, Margarito would suffer 3 losses in his first 12 fights. Showing great determination, Margarito would bounce back with 21 victories in a row. A streak that appeared very safe until he encountered one of Puerto Rico's other highly notables, the dazzling Daniel Santos - current Jr. Middleweight Champion. In a previous fight between the two, the official decision was a no-contest due to an accidental headbutt. In this particular match, however, the two would go deep into the late rounds, only to have the fight stopped once again (in the 10th round) due to another accidental headbutt. Santos had done enough to yield a victory on the score cards, ending the streak that Margarito had carefully crafted.
Never one to sulk in trying times, Margarito re-initiated his ascent to the top, and after four victories that included a hard fought win over the hard punching Joshua Clottey, Margarito would be faced with the biggest challenge of his career to that point, the freakish Paul Williams. This was an interesting fight because no one else in the welterweight division would step up to fight either one of these guys, so they got together and decided to fight one another. By the end of the night the true winner was the fans because these two men put on one helluva show. In a fight that shattered punchstat records, Margarito would once again find himself on the losing end, a victim due to what had become a very routine slow start in fights. With opportunities seemingly absent, and no true way to climb back into contention, Margarito would quickly make the adjustment and do it in a way for the world to see; Blowing out his next opponent in the first round, and finishing what some viewed as unfinished business by knocking out the steel-fisted Puerto Rican Kermit Cintron a second time. With no one else in the welterweight division looking to step up and accept the challenge, Margarito has once again been graced with the opportunity to land on the highest stage. That stage being a shot at a legacy within his country and the sport, as well as a strap - albeit an alphabet model. Nothing in life worth having comes without a heavy price to pay, and this would be no different as Margarito will face his most brutally cruel opponent yet. Months away from Halloween, we find ourselves in the midst of a proverbial "Friday the 13th walking down Elm Street" type moment. And just like in the movies, neither man will go away fast....If at all!
Day 5 is now officially down.....Day 4 on deck.
(Check out tomorrows third installment of the '7-Gun Salute' to Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto: The 'Left-Hook Lounge', which is my weekly Q&A mailbag featuring questions directly from fight fans about the upcoming mega-fight).
(Got Questions or Feedback?: Write ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
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