7/29/08 – By Mike Cassell, the Philadelphia Boxing Report – LAS VEGAS – If we have learned anything Saturday night in Las Vegas inside the MGM Grand arena is that there are very few fighters in the world with the pure “will” of Mexican welterweight Antonio Margarito. His 11 round relentless pursuit of Puerto Rican “tough guy” Miguel Cotto will go down in the pugilistic annals as one of the single greatest performances in the history of the welterweight division..
The comment “who wants it more?” is used entirely too often across the board in every sport, but Antonio Margarito made that question mean more than ever before, bringing the answer to life with every bone crushing punch and heart pounding step he took forward, chopping down the favored Cotto with a violent brute force, that was usually the calling card of Cotto himself. “Beating him at his own game” is used quite a bit too, but that is exactly what Margarito did. He stalked the stalker, and forced him into submission. It was absolutely brilliant.
For Miguel Cotto, suffering a quick knockout would have been more generous and a bit more explainable. But to drop to knee and submit to another fighter is something we have never seen from Cotto, and quite honestly, will probably never see again. That is what made Margarito’s performance so spectacular. As Margarito so deservedly basks in the glory of this solid victory, little known Top Rank brawler Joshua Clottey 31-2 with 20 KO’s will battle perennial journeyman Zab Judah for the vacant IBF welterweight title. If Margarito was slightly off the welterweight map before this fight with Cotto, Clottey must be seemingly off the welterweight planet. Born in Accra, Ghana, Clottey is a member of the “Ga” tribe who shares membership with the likes of Ike Quartey and Azumah Nelson. He is a tremendous Ghanaian warrior who gave Antonio Margarito fits in 2006 on the Cotto/Quintana undercard in Atlantic City NJ. He is another stalker puncher, who doesn’t go backwards and knows Margarito very well.
The fight in 06 against Margarito was a spectacular battle that lost its luster after Cotto thoroughly destroyed Quintana in the main event. In the post fight press conference, the press seemed to question the performance of Margarito, but what seemed to be missing was the tremendous performance of Joshua Clottey. Clottey had fractured his hand in the 3rd round and took Margarito a punishing 12 rounds. The Judges easily gave the fight to Margarito, but it seemed much closer than 116 -112 / 116 – 112 / 118 – 109. Clottey’s only other loss came against the very pedestrian Carlos Baldomir in 1999. For the record, Clottey was winning the fight easily until the referee stopped the fight in the 11th round due to excessive head butting. More proof that Clottey does not move backwards and will suffer a fractured hand, or a fractured head to win a bout. He is truly a hidden jewel in a division that is chock full of unbridled talent.
If Clottey can get past Judah, Bob Arum should do everything possible to get Clottey and Margarito back in the ring. These guys are 2 very tough brawlers, and I give Clottey a very good chance against Margarito if he has 2 good hands. It’s an easy fight for Arum to make, but there is just one problem, Zab Judah. It seems like when everyone is ready to count Judah out, he manages to squeak out a victory and put himself right back in contention. He fights like the stock market; you never really know what you are going to get from fight to fight. If he trains properly, and keeps his head, this could be a competitive fight. If he takes Clottey likely, he will learn a painful lesson that will keep him from a title opportunity for a long time. The other possibility is a Cotto / Margarito rematch. Cotto was beaten handily in the later rounds, but performed well early. Cotto needed a fight like this to challenge him. A second fight, although inconceivable, would be more exciting.
Of course there is always Oscar De La Hoya, but Golden Boy Promotions maybe sitting on the sidelines for awhile. Top Rank is king of the hill right now and what a better place to be holding all the cards, then in Las Vegas.