Cotto-Margarito: A Lesson from History

By Nicholas Dash: One minute and twelve seconds remaining of the fifth. In retreat across the battlefield, Miguel Cotto sought refuge in the cage that contained him. A storm, or ‘tormenta’ in the language that united them, engulfed Miguel and his foe, Antonio Margarito. Yet, only one man would be tormented that night. Knowing that the ropes brought the promise of thunder upon contact with his back, Miguel attempted to defy the forecast. He stood his ground. And unleashed the artillery; jab, jab, straight right, left cross, straight right!

Five fast, hard, direct hits. It was as if the window of opportunity in which he operated was enormous. Antonio, however, like a Sequoia tree, remained rooted to the spot. Merely swaying slightly while absorbing the impact, before marching on. Unlike in previous skirmishes, when Miguel had launched pre-emptive & counter strikes, sprung ambushes and set traps, pausing to register the damage when the smoke cleared, this time he immediately weaved away, fleeing imminent danger. Cotto had ceased to celebrate clean connections. Ammunition was low and Antonio’s defences, which had previously appeared to be permeable, now seemed to facilitate an invisible force field.
Little over a minute later, no remorse, no cease fire. This was Guerrilla warfare, but the element of surprise was wearing off within the confines of this most unforgiving of landscapes. The invading force was honing in on an invisible enemy, dropping bombs when a rapid onslaught was not matched by a rapid exit.

The final five seconds – Margarito neared his reign, and rained down on Cotto from his vantage point high above him. Somehow, Miguel avoided each wave of the attack as if he was executing a choreographed routine. His objective had changed and he now celebrated evasion tactics, but continuing to avoid punishment would be like dodging raindrops. He was being hunted.

Today, we speculate as to the cause of the broken nose and cut above the left eye of Cotto, inflicted after a first round that he won easily and unanimously. We wonder what caused a durable man to crumble, a man able to withstand devastating Zab Judah uppercuts that sent a tooth through his lip and sent a shudder through to his foundations. The same man able to overcome the 110 punches thrown by a then unbeaten, heavy handed Ricardo Torres in the hellish second round of a nightmarish fight, at a weight drained 140 pounds, when taking a knee was a distant thought.

We speculate as to the sudden emergence of tattoos on Cotto’s frame that seemed to point towards the need to establish a new identity, and seemed only to serve to try and cover the scars on his psyche. A man who exemplified composure, seemingly losing it in a ridiculous flurry that got him knocked down for a second time against Manny Pacquiao, refusing to stand face-to-face with the wild man Ricardo Mayorga after being riled by him, more emotional than ever in the build up to the rematch. We ponder what is left.

And we must acknowledge that Cotto attempted everything to halt the advance of Margarito. He ducked below his waistline to evade punches, switched stance, threw increasingly creatively disguised shots that struck before his opponent could prepare for their arrival, repeated three, four and of course five punch combinations. The left handed Puerto Rican leading with arguably the hardest jab at the 147 pound limit, hard enough to rock the granite jawed Joshua Clottey to the ground, yet unable to keep Margarito at a safe distance. Forget for a moment what Antonio may have done. And ask yourself, as Miguel will, what else can Cotto do?

December 3rd, the hunt continues ...

Article posted on 03.12.2011

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