The fight to define the welterweight champion

By César Pancorvo: Margarito is still not the Champion at 147. His win over Cotto was a huge step towards that objective, though. It is an objective that he has been pursuing since the mid 90s, when he made his debut at 147, and especially since 2001, when he appeared for the first time in the welterweight rankings (The Ring)..

Antonio MargaritoIf the wins over Cintron and Joshua Clottey didn’t push him into greatness, the win over Cotto was fundamental because of several reasons: his resume now has a great victory, he was able to beat an elite opponent for the first time –a P4P fighter: Cotto–, his performance will be one to remember in the next decades and, finally, he could regain his place as a top contender.

Since 2004, Margarito has been one of the most respected and highest ranked contenders of the division, and he won that place by winning the WBO belt and defending it a few times –including victories over Andrew Lewis and Antonio Diaz–, to then lose his ranking in the close decision that declared him the loser against Paul Williams. (Those were the days when Williams was considered, by some confused viewers, a new version of Tommy Hearns.) I was one of the many sceptics that did not belief so much in Margarito, and one of our main arguments was: He was almost defeated by Clottey, who lost because he was injured in that fight, and was beat by Williams, a debutant at top level. But then Margarito had a new opportunity in 2008, probably his best year…He won the IBF belt in a rematch against Kermit Cintron and then defeated Miguel Cotto in a much anticipated, gruelling, tremendous, memorable battle. It was a new war that now decorates the brutal and bloody pantheon of the Mexican-Puerto Rican antagonism.

Margarito beat Cotto and became, once again, the top dog of the welterweight division, or at least one of the top dogs –arguably, Paul Williams deserves the #1 rating. Of course he is not the Champion yet The lineal title, post-Mayweather, is vacant, and the fight between Cotto and Margarito didn’t serve to fill the vacancy, especially because Paul Williams –who beat Margarito one year ago– is still out there.

In just two weeks, Margarito has apparently taken a premature, fast decision and agree to fight Joshua Clottey. Most expected that he would fight De la Hoya –although Oscar would not like that fight– or rematch Paul Williams, and that the winner of Clottey/Judah would fight Cotto, but instead Margarito is the one that will face Clottey once again, in an unification fight for the WBA & IBF belts; once again, this is not the fight that will determine who the Champ is at 147.

Here, there are two hypotheses. The first one is that Margarito is ducking Paul Williams. It is not out of the question. After a brilliant victory that has given him more prestige than ever, Margarito won’t risk a loss. Not soon, at least. But that attitude is contradictory with his personality and style. Others say that Margarito is making a smart decision; he is unifying belts in a winnable fight that will give him more exposure, and then will agree to fight Williams under his conditions. Reasonable.

Since 2001, Margarito has seen different men, who did not face him, in the welterweight throne: Shane Mosley, Vernon Forrest, Ricardo Mayorga, Cory Spinks, Zab Judah, Carlos Baldomir and Floyd Mayweather. He is 30 and doesn’t have many prime years left. If the world is a fair place, Margarito will, at the end, be the official welterweight champion. But destiny, in boxing much more than in real life, is not always fair.

Article posted on 13.08.2008

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