They’ve been a long time coming, but tomorrow night we’ll finally get to see the (hopefully) legitimate rematches for 2 of the most controversial boxing contests of recent history.
While Margarito-Cotto II is easily the more dramatic of the 2 conflicts, and will likely contain the most fireworks, rest assured, both contests are almost guaranteed to produce entertaining results for as long as they last.
That being said, given the controversial nature of the original bouts that gave way to tomorrow rematches, let’s take a minute to examine the nature of said controversies, starting today with Margarito-Cotto.
Back in 2008, Margarito-Cotto I (it’s traditional to place the winner’s name first, even if it’s harder on the tongue) represented a fantasy pairing between 2 fighters on the precipice of fame and glory, as well as at the top of the Welterweight division.
That the 2 of them hailed from Mexico and Puerto Rico respectively, 2 countries/territories that have been engaged in an ongoing boxing rivalry pretty much since the beginning of time; was merely icing on the cake.
The ensuing “Battle” (the promotional name of the fight) did not disappoint.
Both fighters, possessed of pressuring styles, laid into one another from the early goings, with Cotto’s scoring potent combinations throughout most of the early rounds.
Unfortunately however, Cotto failed to take into account Margarito’s Bionic Mexican chin, resulting in him overextending his offense and exposing him to his opponent’s swarming, nearly 100 punch per round assault.
Despite winning virtually every round beforehand, Cotto was stunned by an overhand right in the 6th, and following the tumultuous final seconds in the round, it was clear Cotto was hurt and essentially locked in survival mode.
From then on in the fight, Cotto was battered and bashed from corner to corner, struggling to stay on his feet, while only occasionally displaying even the slightest glimmer of spirit or offensive instincts.
In round 11, the fight was waved off as Cotto went down twice, both times apparently of his own volition.
That final image, of Cotto going down on one knee as Margarito charged in at him, is both a haunting and telling image that will likely stick with me forever.
Margarito had broken Cotto as no other fighter before him had done, quite literally by beating him into submission.
Just 6 short months after this potentially career-defining victory, Antonio Margarito would find himself knocked out for the first time in his career by Shane Mosley, and stripped of his boxing license due to the discovery of an illegal plaster-like material tucked in his handwrap.
To this day, his trainer, Javier Capetillo remains disallowed from serving as a second in professional boxing, while Margarito has since been re-licensed to fight in several states as of mid-2010, most likely due to the influence of Bob Arum.
Truly, it is hard to picture any other fighter, under any other promoter, that would be capable of regaining their license, let alone in the state of New York, following such a scandal.
Both Margarito and Capetillo have denied using the “loaded” wraps in any of their previous fights, though speculation on this matter has effectively cast a shadow over the entirety of his career.
Since fighting one another, both Cotto and Margarito have put a dangerous amount of miles on their respective odometers, with tough losses to Manny Pacquiao being perhaps the most noteworthy contribution to their mutual wear and tear.
While Cotto has indeed showed signs of slowing, as well as increased tendency to cut and swell since the Margarito fight, oddly enough it’s the iron-chinned Margarito who may been the more shopworn of the 2 entering into their rematch.
During his bout with Pacquiao, Margarito ate nearly 500 punches over 12 absolutely brutal rounds, resulting in a broken orbital bone beneath his right eye.
Supposedly the bone has since healed and/or been repaired, however it’s also worth noting that Margarito underwent cataract surgery on his eye as well, making this the first time he’ll be fighting since having the artificial lens installed.
Common sense dictates that Margarito’s performance will be effected by the damage to and surgery of his eye, however he has been medically cleared to fight, so I wouldn’t expect it to factor in too much.
Even so, an odd detail such as this is not worth overlooking, so until the bell rings tomorrow night, it’ll remain a major question mark as to the outcome of the fight.
Neither man is likely to ever be as good as they were back in 2008, however both men obviously bear genuine animosity towards one another given the bloody and controversial nature of their first encounter.
It’s more than likely that this bout was put together, not just because of the grudge match appeal of the affair, but also because both fighters are likely faded to the point of only being competitive to each other.
Win or lose, I’d expect to see both fighters emerge from this rematch as gatekeepers of the Jr. Middleweight division due to the relative youth and ability of most of the talent at that weight.
In that sense, it’s fair to assume that both men will be entering the ring tomorrow night, whether it be in the name of redemption or revenge, just a little bit more focused, and a little bit more intent on caving their opponent’s face in than they seemed in their most recent fights.
The key in this fight, at least from my perspective, is the weight.
Their original 2008 bout was staged at 147, however tomorrow night’s rematch will be fought at a catchweight of 153.
The Cotto camp fought tooth and nail to secure that -1 pound catchweight, and it’s pretty obvious as to why:
Margarito is naturally the bigger man.
At 5’11”, Margarito was huge for a Welterweight, while the stout 5’7″ Cotto was borderline below-average.
Cotto has long seemed like a man without a weight class in my eyes.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s my boy and he always will be, but his height and body type have made him unsuited for virtually every weight class he’s visited.
At 140 he was weight drained and would get knocked down too often.
Margarito on the otherhand, given his lanky frame and height, was likely weight drained at 147, meaning he’ll likely be stronger and even less likely to fatigue at 154.
If I’ve fought a guy that’s able to take 500 punches a night, and throw over 1,000 in the process, “stronger” is not a word I want the man to describe himself with the second time I step into the ring with him.
As much as I hate to admit it, 3 years ago a plodding, one-dimensional, weight drained Bionic Mexican pounded my boy Miguel Cotto into submission.
Putting aside the possibility of loaded wraps, as well as the potential of the artificial lens newly installed in his right eye fucking with his performance, I’m willing to bet that same plodding, one-dimensional Bionic Mexican has it in him to do it again.
Both guys are pressure fighters, however Margarito’s superior chin, stamina, and punch output saw him get the better of Cotto their first time out.
As has recently been confirmed yet again by Pacquiao-Marquez III, once a guy gets your number, he very rarely loses it.
In that sense, while I ultimately will be rooting for Cotto, I honestly think that Margarito; once again, provided his eye doesn’t play into things, will eke out another hard fought win over the Puerto Rican, likely through a late round KO or UD.
Margarito KO 8.
Check Back Tomorrow For The Next Round Of Predictions!