Cotto-Margarito: Why Cotto Will Prevail

Miguel CottoBy Geoffrey Ciani: Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito are slated to square off this weekend in a contest many perceive as a potential fight of the year encounter. Some observers are even pegging this mega-bout as a potential fight of the decade candidate, and not without good reason. Of all the fights that could possibly be made right now, this might well be the best match-up (at least on paper) that a boxing fan could dream of. Indeed, this is one of those fights that will appeal to both casual fans and die-hards alike.

What makes this fight so potentially exciting is the fact that each fighter personifies what it means to be a ‘warrior’. Once inside the squared circle, neither fighter is afraid to mix it up, neither is apt to take a backwards step, and neither understands the meaning of the word ‘quit’. Making matters all the more interesting, both fighters are known for their tremendous punching power and each man enters the ring with a knockout in mind. All things considered, no matter what the outcome, this should be an extremely exciting event with lots of fireworks along the way.

So who will emerge victorious? This is an extremely difficult fight to pick. I can envision scenarios wherein either fighter walks away the winner. Indeed, this is a pick’em fight if ever there was one. That said, I am favoring Cotto in this one, albeit, ever-so-slightly. I know, I know—it is the safe bet to make. After all, Cotto is a slight favorite entering the contest and is certainly the better known commodity who is universally included on pound-for-pound charts the world over. However, this fight is in no way a foregone conclusion, and a Margarito victory is definitely in the realm of reason.

How can Margarito win? Strong arguments can be made that Antonio packs a bigger punch and has a better chin, so common wisdom dictates that he should try and turn this into a barnburner, and that is exactly what I expect him to try and do. If Margarito can draw Cotto into an all-out brawl, which is something that might not be difficult, considering Cotto’s bravery inside the ring, he amplifies his chances. After all, Cotto has been dropped or hurt by lesser punchers than Margarito, and Antonio has outstanding skills as a finisher. The more Margarito hits Cotto, the better his outlook becomes, and given that Margarito is not especially known for his tactical prowess, he needs to make this a war.

On the flipside, even if Margarito succeeds at turning this into a brawl, there are no guarantees that he will get the best of Cotto. In fact, there is a strong possibility that a war may work in Cotto’s favor. Not only is Cotto a much better tactical fighter on the inside, but strong arguments can also be made in his favor in terms of punching-power and durability. So even if Margarito succeeds in drawing Cotto into “his” type of fight, this might well work against him, for Cotto is no stranger to slugging it out with an equally determined foe.

While Margarito’s best chance relies on his ability to turn this into a war, Cotto has several means at his disposal to emerge victorious. The fact that he has more ways to win does not necessarily mean he will, however! One thing about Cotto is, in recent years, he has become a more complete boxer. Watching him evolve from a raw talent into a finely-tuned pugilist with great instincts for the game has been an absolute marvel for fight fans. Recent bouts against Judah and Mosley clearly help illustrate this progression. Simply put, Cotto has become a fantastic boxer with outstanding ring intelligence.

Cotto’s superior skills and greater smarts should certainly come into play. Where Margarito should be trying to turn this into a brutal encounter fought at close quarters, I imagine Cotto should try to box in the early going, while carefully picking his moments to engage. Cotto is surely smart enough to understand that Margarito cannot outbox him, so he should try to turn this into a boxing match, at least in the early stages, to try and throw Margarito off track. If he can succeed in doing this, he will frustrate Antonio, which should give him more opportunities to land his power shots and combinations.

This should be a competitive match-up between two very evenly matched fighters that should provide fans with ample entertainment value. Recent losses against Paul Williams and Daniel Santos might lead many to believe that Cotto will have an easy time with Margarito. However, such views ignore the fact that those two were bigger foes and that neither man employs the type of styles used by Cotto. Although Miguel is clearly the more accomplished of the two to date, Margarito has the type of style that can derail the seemingly unstoppable Cotto Express.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. In the end, whatever the outcome, the fans should be the big winners, for I fully expect this to be a spectacular display from two of the world’s elite welterweights. Who needs Floyd, anyway?

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Article posted on 23.07.2008

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