Cotto Vs Margarito: An Analysis of their most recent fights

By George Ulrich: With all the fanfare this fight has attained (and rightfully so) I’m going to take a look at both fighter’s most recent opponents and how they dealt with them.

Miguel Cotto has had arguably the tougher road of the two as far as his most recent encounters. In his past three fights he’s faced a durable fighter in Alfonso Gomez, former p4p elite Shane Mosley, and an incredibly physically gifted fighter in Zab Judah.. In the Gomez fight it wasn’t much more than target practice after the first round. It was clear early that Gomez was over matched and out classed. The fight was mercifully stopped due to the amount of damage Alfonso was taking without returning any. Cotto showed something in that fight I haven’t seen from him before. He showed a complete lack of respect for anything Gomez could do and was very brash in doing it. His confidence was in overdrive and it served him well in that fight, but I don’t believe he’ll be using that approach tomorrow night.

In the Shane Mosley fight (which was his closest to date) he showed many dimensions as a boxer and fighter. In the early going he was feeling Shane out while Mosley was bringing the fight to his front door. The fighters were so evenly matched that I don’t think anyone watching knew what the verdict was going to be when the cards were read. Cotto’s speed throughout the fight was in full view. His well placed stiff jab was as good as any I’ve seen. Several of those jabs snapped Shane’s head back and kept him out of rhythm for most of the later rounds. Cotto did take some pretty heavy shots at a couple of points in the fight, but he was able to shake them off and continue. Something else that surprised me was his ability to adjust his game plan on the fly.

Fighting going backwards was something I don’t think any of us thought he would ever do, but he did it with great technique and used that jab to maintain Mosley’s distance from him. While most believed Shane Mosley’s speed would be the biggest factor in the fight, it was Cotto’s that made the difference. Previous to Mosley was Zab Judah, possibly one of the most physically gifted fighters in the world. His speed and power are a combination not seen very often. I must admit going into this fight I didn’t think Cotto would be able to answer Judah’s hand speed. In the first round Judah landed several counter uppercuts as Cotto tried to get inside. There was a point when I thought Judah might have Cotto in real trouble, and then came the low blow. Whether it was intentional or not only Cotto knows for sure, but one thing’s for sure it was effective in getting Cotto away from Judah. He survived the onslaught, and the fight continued. Then a couple of rounds later as it looked like Judah was getting the better of him, another below the belt shot that cost Cotto a point, but again was effective in getting him out of a “tight spot”. Cotto was constantly returning fire in heated exchanges.

Towards the latter rounds Miguel’s tenacity began to pay off in spades. Judah looked worn and tired towards the end of the rounds as they began to pile up and Cotto was showing no signs of slowing his relentless assault. In the eleventh all of Cotto’s pressure paid off as Zab got caught with a powerful uppercut that floored him. The ensuing assault prompted a referee stoppage and Cotto earned the TKO victory. What Miguel Cotto has shown throughout these most recent fights is his ability to adjust as the fight progresses. He’s also shown that he’ll do whatever it takes to get the win, and every time he steps in the ring he’s adding dimensions to his fight game. His combination of speed and power are lethal, he’s no longer just a “body snatcher” though he hasn’t abandoned that part of his game. His guard is a little wide in the middle and his elbows tend to flare which will make him a target for uppercuts and body shots, but overall his ability to move his feet will help in playing some defense against a fighter that is going to be right in front of him for tomorrow’s bout.

Antonio Margarito’s most recent opponents have included; Kermit Cintron, Golden Johnson, and Paul Williams. In the Cintron fight I was one of the ones that believed Cintron had a real chance to defeat Margarito. It the early goings through round 3 I had Cintron winning. Kermit was landing some very powerful shots that probably would have KO’d most fighters, but when Margarito didn’t go anywhere it was clear that Cintron didn’t have a plan B.

Eventually Margarito’s work rate and pressure were too much for Cintron and he buckled due to a brutal well timed left to the body in the fifth round. This fight was a blueprint for what not to do against Margarito. When Antonio would get inside he was throwing from every angle with bad intention. The Tornado was in full effect. His fight previous to this was against Golden Johnson, a fight in which he held true to his promise to “start early”. I don’t think Golden Johnson was even out of his dressing room before Margarito was on him. It was swift and decisive. The fight before this one is the most intriguing. Paul Williams at 6’2 is a freak of nature for a welterweight. His punch output is alarming, and when he sits down on his punches they are thrown with the intent of a KO. Being a southpaw presents another set of problems that makes a fight with him very difficult to adjust to.

Antonio didn’t win a single round through the first six with a complete lack of output. He certainly came on late though. As Williams began to slow a little, his punches lost a lot of their speed and it looked like Margarito was catching them with his gloves. At one point Margarito had Williams in real trouble late, but was unable to land effectively as “The Punisher” was able to survive a touchy moment. While Margarito lost the fight on points, if he had upped his output prior to the 7th round the outcome could have been much different. Something must be stated about him taking this fight. He didn’t have to, but his championship belt meant quite a bit to him for all he had to do to earn it, and didn’t do what most fighters would have done in such a high risk low reward situation. He fought for his title against the #1 contender. So many champions dump their titles in a similar situation.

He had an agreement to fight Cotto immediately following that bout should he win, but if he hadn’t taken the fight he would have fought Cotto anyway. Should a rematch ever be made, I won’t bet against him. He was able to land effectively late in the fight as he threw more punches, and everything Margarito throws in a fight is thrown with intent. What we learned from these most recent fights about Margarito is he has an iron will, and the whiskers to go with that will. He will take 4 to land one, and will usually get the better of that exchange. If there’s any lack of resolve in his opponent it will become apparent early as his determination does not deter. You can throw a grenade at him; he’ll swallow it, and ask for another. When he gets inside is when he’s at his most dangerous. His punches from close up are just as powerful as on the outside. Antonio will not back up, will not lay down, and will not give in. He applies consistent heavy pressure and waits for his opponents to fold, and most have.

The outcome of this fight is uncertain, as both fighters have strengths and weaknesses that play into the others. For Margarito, one of his best punches is the uppercut. Cotto’s wide guard will offer opportunities for that punch. Margarito doesn’t use his height and reach advantage and fights on the inside which is where Cotto is very comfortable and will move his feet to land body shots, the only weakness in Margarito’s armor. Margarito also fights with his feet planted, offering plenty of countering chances for Cotto. I’ll tell you the one thing I know for certain….I can hardly sit still waiting to see what’s going to happen tomorrow night. Many have asked for a prediction, and my prediction is this and this only:

If the fight ends prior to the 7th round it will be a KO victory for Margarito. If it’s a decision it will be a points win for Cotto, and if at any point Cotto decides to trade with Margarito, it will prove fatal.

I really hope for a grand event, good luck to both fighters….

Article posted on 25.07.2008

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