By Geoffrey Ciani: So Miguel Cotto finally met his match. After building an early lead in the first half of his match against Antonio Margarito, Cotto would ultimately succumb to the relentless pressure being applied by his bigger foe. It was an absolute marvel watching Cotto land powerhouse combinations throughout the entire contest, only to watch Margarito shrug them off as if they were nothing more than a mere nuisance..
Cotto quite literally landed every punch in the book, but to no avail. At the very least, mere mortals would have been stopped in their tracks on the receiving end of Cotto’s explosive fists, but Margarito is a freak of nature who seemed entirely un-phased by the onslaught of punches that continuously peppered his face.
As time wore on, and Margarito continued bulling his way through Cotto’s attack, you could almost see a sort of fear building beneath Cotto’s bloodied face. That any man could stand up to such a beating made Cotto realize he was in trouble, for no previous foe could withstand such punishment. Worse yet, Margarito’s own attack was beginning to have an impact, causing Cotto’s legs to betray him. By the tenth round, it was clear Cotto was just looking to survive, hoping the monster before him would slow down to give him just a short breather. It never happened; Margarito continued pressing forward, like a Terminator hell-bent on stalking and killing his prey. Watching Cotto’s legs morphing into jelly reminded me of the way the great Erik Morales’s legs began giving out in his rematch with Manny Pacquiao, and I knew it was only a matter of time.
When Cotto dropped to a knee, it was over. Sure, he would get back to his feet, driven by the pure instinct of a championship heart, but even he must have known this would not be enough. When he finally collapsed again for a second time, seemingly through his own will, the bout was halted. Bloody and dazed, Cotto was a beaten man, and Antonio Margarito had proven to the world why he has been one of the most feared pugilists in all of boxing. Cotto then understood what Kermit Cintron already knew—that Margarito is an absolute beast with an unbreakable will.
Watching Cotto back-peddle in desperation over the course of the final few rounds reminded me of his bout with Sugar Shane Mosley. Sure, against Mosley, Cotto was having more success as he fought moving backwards, but even still, there were uncanny similarities in the desperation of his body language as he tried to escape the relentless pursuit of Margarito. Of course, against Mosley, Cotto was able to hold on for victory, securing a very close unanimous decision. Incidentally, I was amongst the minority who believed Mosley did enough to win that contest, and I could not help but wonder how Mosley would have performed in Cotto’s place against Margarito.
Now that Margarito proved his worth, he has several options. One option would be an immediate rematch with Miguel Cotto, but that would seem to be an ill-advised career move for Miguel at this point in time. Losses like this have been known to ruin fighters, so rushing into an immediate rematch seems fruitless. Another option for Margarito would be to try and coax former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Junior into the ring, but I doubt Mayweather would be in any rush to take on such a bout at this time, especially when there are easier, bigger money routes still available for him to choose. Margarito can also try and get former conqueror Paul Williams back into the ring, and the chances of this one seem fairly likely, even though Williams represents a stylistic nightmare for Margarito much in the same way Margarito represented one to Cotto.
However, the route I would be most interested in seeing Margarito pursue is the Mosley option.
Now many people might wonder why I find such a bout so intriguing? After all, Cotto beat Mosley, and Margarito just destroyed Cotto, so what on earth would lead me to believe that Mosley would fare any better against the beast known as Margarito? The simple answer to that is “styles”. Yes, the phrase “styles make fights” is one of the most overused clichés in boxing, and yet, time and time again it proves true. Saturday night’s outcome helped remind us of that, for even though Miguel Cotto is clearly the much better boxer, Antonio Margarito proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that he was the better fighter, and in boxing, sometimes the man with an inferior set of skills has what it takes to beat the tactically better man.
I think Mosley would pose some problems for Margarito. For one, unlike Cotto, who continuously seemed to be backing his way towards the ropes, I think Mosley would be able to prevent Margarito from having as much success cutting off the ring. Mosley has faster feet than Cotto, so although Cotto has brilliant footwork and good ring movement, he was getting trapped rather easily, and this played right into Margarito’s strategy. If Mosley could keep the bout in the center of the ring longer, I think Margarito would find landing his shots more burdensome than he did against Cotto, for despite the fact Cotto exhibited some outstanding defensive movement, he was still getting trapped way too often, which allowed Margarito to unleash on him, even if many of the punches were grazing shots or ones that hit off the shoulders and arms.
Another reason I think Mosley would stand a better chance at beating Margarito is that I believe he has superior durability and stamina. Mosley can take a good punch, and even though he is getting up there in years, he still has the energy to fight for a full twelve rounds. If Mosley can rack up points in the early going against Margarito the way Cotto did, and I see no reason why he would not be able to, I think Mosley would have enough left in the tank to maintain his lead down the stretch. Part of the reason Cotto got so tired had to do with the fact he was being hit and pressured non-stop from the second round on. Mosley’s superior durability should enable him to have enough energy reserved for the championship rounds, which means Margarito will have to press even harder.
I also believe that Mosley would have more success working Margarito’s body, which should help slow his relentless attack down, even if just a little. Cotto had a difficult time delivering body shots because Miguel was constantly pressing forward. It is difficult to land body shots when fighting backwards, and Cotto’s crisp, compact punches were not well-suited for Margarito’s defensive strategy which leaves his head wide open for an attack. Cotto could not resist the temptation to headhunt, and at the same time, he would have had an extremely difficult time unleashing an effective body attack in any case. Shane’s faster hands should help in this regard. Mosley’s in-and-out style would be better suited for a body assault, especially if he could find his rhythm and confuse Margarito with different angles.
Of course, Margarito would have a fair share of chances, too. In fact, in many ways, a fight between Mosley and Margarito might look eerily similar to the contest we just saw between Antonio and Cotto. If Cotto was unable to hurt Margarito, Mosley probably could not dent him, either. However, style-wise, even if the outcome was ultimately the same, I imagine the path by which we got there would be quite different, and I like Mosley’s chances of winning a decision. Either way, I believe the most interesting match-up available for Margarito is a showdown with “Sugar” Shane Mosley. From my perspective, a bout with Mosley provides greater entertainment value than a rematch with Cotto, a rematch with Williams, or even a bout with Floyd. Assuming Mosley wins his next fight with Ricardo Mayorga (which I believe he will), I hope we see a Margarito-Mosley soon after.
Bring on Margarito ~vs~ Mosley!
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