Sharkie's Machine: Santos and Cotto Win

12.09.04 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: Fighting for the vacant WBO Jr. Welterweight Title, Miguel Cotto faced the man who beat him twice in the amateurs, Kelson Pinto of Brazil. Pinto was downed three times and was TKO'd in the sixth. Cotto improved his record to 21-0-0-17 KO's.

Career-wise, Cotto has kept busy. This was his third fight this year. He fought five times last year. He's fought progressively better fighters and steadily earned the respect of this fight fan. He keeps his chin tucked in, hands up, elbows low enough to protect the body and knows how to manage his energy well. He uses his hips to turn into his power punches effectively. When he gets his opponent in trouble, he knows how to finish. Right now he is one of the most formidable fighters in his weight class.

Kelson Pinto, (who trains with Acelino Freitas) has been a bit less active, with this being his second fight in 2004 and having fought three times in 2003. The best guy Pinto has faced has a lousy record but is still considered a top fighter-Emanuel Augustus (then 28-20-5-14 KO's). Pinto beat Augustus by UD 10 in June of 2003. Against the 2004 version of Miguel Cotto, the message to Pinto had to be, "This is NOT the amateurs!" I was impressed by Pinto's skills and game attitude but Cotto proved too much for him to handle in the professional ranks.

Kelson Pinto won only one round on my card, the fourth, where he boxed effectively from the outside and was able to avoid most of Cotto's power. Other than the fourth, it was all Cotto.

Pinto was knocked down in the second and again in the fifth. In the sixth round, Cotto caught Pinto against the ropes and rocked him to the canvas. Pinto got up but didn't look able to continue, causing referee Roberto Ramirez, to wave him out. It was a good call.

Cotto's pro career has been slowly and carefully managed. The benefits were on display Saturday night in his homeland of Puerto Rico. Miguel showed he's maturing into a well-rounded fighting machine. He has the tools and the attitude to be successful. I was impressed that he didn't talk any smack after the fight and showed the stripes of a true professional who respects the sport, his opponent and himself.

Cotto is ready to mix it up with the top guys in the division. I'd like to see him fight "Vicious" Vivian Harris, who was scheduled to fight him on 9/11/04 instead of Pinto. Harris is a big puncher who is a bit inconsistent defensively. To me, he is the logical next step for Cotto.

There is great depth at 140-pounds. Imagine Cotto against Arturo Gatti? That would be a wild affair. The much-improved Julio Diaz would be another good match up for Miguel. A fight with Sharmba Mitchell would interesting as Mitchell is a masterful boxer and Cotto is powerful puncher with very good boxing skills himself. I doubt Ricky Hatton would take on Cotto, as Frank Warren would see that as too big a risk. But it would be a war...for at least a few rounds. I like Cotto to win that one as Hatton throws so many wild punches that Cotto would likely catch him with counter shots that would floor Ricky. But hey, you never really know. Hatton may be better then we can tell from the lower level competition he still fights at the MENS Arena, where he always fills the seats to maximum capacity. But in order to be the best, you have to fight the best. As for Kostya Tszyu, who's been so inactive lately, who knows what to think? Tszyu probably retires soon after his scheduled fight with Mitchell. Kostya's getting on in age, has had a great career and is ready to enjoy the fruits of his success with his family.

Somewhere down the line, Cotto vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. would be a hell of a fight. Mayweather is an amazing fighter with some of the finest boxing skills out there but Floyd's got some hand problems that could be a real problem against a strong fighter like Cotto. That would be the ultimate test for the new WBO Champion.

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On the same night, WBO Super Welterweight Champ Daniel Santos retained his Title in front of his fans in San Juan, P.R. winning a Split Decision over WBO Welterweight Champion Antonio Margarito in a very close fight that was stopped due to a nasty cut suffered by Margarito. After a head butt caused the cut over Margarito's right eye in the sixth round, the ringside doctor was keeping an eye on him. By the start of the tenth, the cut had graduated to a serious gash and the referee stopped it. Margarito looked like he'd be needed about 20 stitches. For the first time in eight years, Margarito lost a fight.

Margarito was clearly angered at the stoppage but it was the ringside doctor's call. They went to the scorecards. One Judge had it 86-85 Margarito; the other two had it 87-84 and 86-85 for Santos.

This was actually a rematch of their incomplete fight from 2001, where a head butt in the first round caused the referee to stop it. It was deemed a No Contest. Their battle on Saturday night was something of de ja vu for Margarito. This fight was stopped due to another head butt in the same place on the same man. It was close, I had Margarito ahead 87-86 at the time of the stoppage. Take away that cut and this fight probably goes to Margarito. But then again, considering that they were fighting in Santos' home country, who knows?

Santos is a very good fighter but he looked to be taking the most punishment from Margarito. The blood flowing from above Margarito's right eye was not reflective of who was getting beat up. Santos style shifted from boxer to slugger as Margarito dictated the terms of engagement. Santos gave a respectable account of himself slugging but definitely lost most of those close exchanges in my eyes. Margarito tends to lead with his head as he comes in and that, to me, accounted for the numerous head butts.

Overall, Margarito was the aggressor; he was busier and showed the better ring generalship. Santos scored at a higher percentage but at a lower volume. Santos never bled nor did his face ever swell up. Looking at the two
men after the stoppage, one could easily assume the wrong guy did the most scoring.

The Punch Stats

Santos Margarito

After waiting three years to see this rematch, it's disappointing that it ended this way. It was a good match up with Margarito ever pressing forward relentlessly and Santos, using his legs and sneaky hooks to land the cleaner shots. Margarito always worked the body and drew Santos into places he didn't want to be. Santos eventually made some adjustments and boxed more from the outside in the later rounds with good results. Margarito was imposing his will on Santos. If it weren't for all the head butts in this fight, I think Margarito would have pulled out the win-that is, if the Judges could honestly score the fight. It's doubtful they'll ever fight again, why would they?

After all, Margarito gets to keep his 147-pound Title and Santos keeps his 154-pound Title. Strange, but true.

The fight I want to see for Margarito is Cory Spinks at 147. Spinks is one of the best 'pure boxers' out there and Margarito is a great warrior who has great stamina and skills. If Margarito stays at 154, then lets see him fight Kassim Ouma, Verno Phillips or even Shane Mosley. Winky Wright may be the best in the division now but I can see Margarito offer up a serious challenge and possibly win.

Daniel Santos should consider moving up to Middleweight, where he could be very successful. He came in to the Margarito fight weighing 170. Santos does a lot of little things right and will be a tough proposition for anyone from 154-160. I'd like to see him take on Jermain Taylor, Howard Eastman or Felix Sturm at 160.

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Article posted on 12.09.2004

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