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Predictions For Boxing’s “Night Of Rematches” Part 1

Left: Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Right: Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko.

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.

Said rematches are of the course the re-pairing of Jr. Middleweights Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto, and Bantamweights Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko.

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.

Pictured: Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito mix it up on the inside.

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.

Still get chills just lookin' at it...

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.

Pictured: The actual evidence recovered from the dressing room that night.

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.

Note the glassiness of the right eye (left on the screen). If you ask me his entire goddamn facial structure got rearranged after what Pacquiao did to him.

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.

Pictured: The weigh-in for the first fight. Hard to believe they're in the same weight class...

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.

At 147 he seemed comfortable, but when placed next to the Margaritos, Paul Williams, and Kermit Cintrons of the division, he seemed massively outsized.

At 154 he’s functional, however given the difficulty he showed in dispatching Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga, it’s doubtful his punches have the same mustard they had on them at 147.

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!

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Kirkland/Angulo: One Of The Best Opening Rounds I’ve Ever Seen


I’ve always found it interesting that the first round of a boxing contest is commonly known as the “feeling out” round.

During the first 3 minutes of a typical boxing match, it’s usually expected that the fighters will be tentative, cautious, and in the case of a southpaw/conventional matchup; just plain awkward.

The first round is when fighters begin to gauge one another’s reach and distance, begin to jockey for good positioning, begin to time one another’s movements, and begin to lay the groundwork for slowing or speeding up the pace of the fight in their favor.

In a sport filled with metaphors to it, the first round in boxing truly is one of the most profound examples of liminality in the ring.

While many would look upon the a boxing match as a barbaric and savage affair, established elements of the game like the “feeling out” round serve as crystal clear reminders that, boxing may not be an inherently gentlemanly sport, but when everything comes together; there really an artful science to it.

That being said, as flowery and poetic as I’ve done my best to make it sound, the sport of boxing is at it’s core, a sport that deals in little more than 2 men standing before one another and pounding the shit out of another.

Though it undoubtedly helps a great deal, particularly in regards to extending the longevity of one’s career, one does not need to be a technical genius to succeed in the sport of professional boxing.

In the right quantity, sometimes guts, raw physicality, and unerring tenacity can be enough to carry the day.

Such was the case when James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo clashed last night in their highly anticipated bout at 154 lbs.

Pictured: Kirkland and Angulo. Jesus fuck, Angulo is ugly...

On the one hand we had James Kirkland, a stout and atypically muscular whirlwind of a fighter coming off a first loss in the form of a sudden and bizarre first round knockout to Nobuhiro Ishida, as well as a recent stint in prison for illegal firearms possession.

On the other, we have Alfredo Angulo, a bestial Bionic Mexican of the highest order with only one prior loss to the intensely bipolar Kermit Cintron.

Curiously enough, Angulo came into last night’s fight following a fairly recent Visa debacle, resulting in his deportation from the United States for the past 2 years.

In a nutshell, both fighters came into the ring last night highly regarded prospects with explosive punching power, aggressive head-first fighting styles, and less than exemplary records in regards to U.S. laws and regulations.

On paper, the matchup between these sounded like fireworks all the way.

While the fireworks didn’t last all the way through the fight, I’ll be damned if I’ve seen a first round as dramatic and visceral this side of Hagler/Hearns.

Pictured: One of the best damn fights you'll ever see.

From the opening bell, both guys stepped to center ring with bad intentions.

Kirkland came out swinging, asserting his dominance through swarming Angulo with volleys of clubbing punches at close range.

Possessed of a naturally aggressive and stalking style, Angulo took some shots in the opening 30 seconds, though his amateur pedigree occasionally shined through as he evaded shots calmly and efficiently.

Even so, the first 30-40 seconds were all Kirkland, as his attack proved so constant and smothering, that the typically offensive-minded Angulo barely managed to get off a shot.

That all changed around the 1 minute mark, on the strength of a single, heatseeking missile of a straight right hand delivered by Angulo smack dab onto the point of Kirkland’s chin.

Time seemed to freeze as Kirkland backed Angulo into corner, swinging with wild abandon, only for the courageous Mexican to suddenly step forward during a millisecond break in the action, and knock Kirkland onto his backside with one of his first cleanly landed punches in the fight.

Earlier, I mentioned James Kirkland was knocked out by Nobuhiro Ishida in the first round.

While I neglected to mention that Ishida managed to knock him down 3 times in said round, I feel it’s perhaps much more important to make mention of the fact that, despite the increasingly senile and ignorant Joe Cortez’ decision to stop the fight, Kirkland made an earnest and capable attempt to stand up every time.

Hurt, and downed 3 times, James Kirkland need to be held down by the referee in order for the contest to be brought to a halt.

If ever there were a man who defined the word “tough,” for my money it’d have to be James Kirkland.

That being said, as you might have expected, Kirkland did in fact get up from the bunker busting right hand to his jaw courtesy of Alfredo Angulo.

Not only that, while most trainers likely would have chastised him for doing so, Kirkland stood up almost immediately following the knockdown, taking nearly all of the standing 8 count on his feet.

Fortunately for James Kirkland, he trains under Ann Wolfe, who as I hope we all know, enjoys watching her fighters dole out beatings as much as she does watching them take them.

Said philosophy may not work on all occasions, but as I said before, sometimes guts count for more than anything else, and last night; you can sure as hell bet that rang true.

Storming out of the neutral corner, Angulo’s previously dormant offense erupted with an explosive torrent of punches.

On shaky legs, Kirkland foolishly stood his ground and attempted to stand and trade with rubbery arms, eating thunderous barrages of punches to the head in the process.

Eventually chasing the Gumby-legged Kirkland into the ropes and all around the ring, Angulo continued to pour on the punishment, landing blows at arms length while the referee continued to watch Kirkland like a hawk in anticipation of what appeared to be an inevitable stoppage.

After 20-30 seconds or so though, it became apparent that Kirkland was not nearly as enfeebled as he seemed.

Sure he was off-balance, and still very much in trouble, as well as largely unable to put the mustard on his punches in the way that made him famous; but amidst the beating he was taking, he was also doing well to deflect blows with his forearms, as well as occasionally tie-up Angulo.

Make no mistake, Kirkland was still very much a hurt man at this point, but he was a hurt man that with a plan and bad intentions.

For nearly a minute and a half, Angulo rained down blows on Kirkland unopposed, however as tends to be the case when a fighter fires on all cylinders against a man that just won’t quit; Angulo eventually began to slow.

Though under great duress, and eating hard punches every step of the way, slowly but surely, James Kirkland began to work his way back into the fight.

Pictured: Kirkland strikes back.

It didn’t happen all at once, but in the last minute of the round, Angulo’s fatigue got the better of him, and his once crackling punches began to come out at almost comically slow speeds.

Looking like a weary fighter caught in a time warp, Angulo found himself in the most unfavorable of positions:

Out of gas, and faced with a man who had not only already taken his best shots, but had almost fully recovered from them.

Slipping and deflecting Angulo’s sluggish punches, Kirkland quickly jumped back on the offensive and miraculously pushed Angulo back on his heels with an accurate head and body attack.

No longer swinging for the fences, nor fighting with pure aggression, Kirkland laid into Angulo with a varied and intelligent assault that one wouldn’t expect given his usual wild demeanor.

That being said, following an intensely dramatic, back-and-forth first round, with the lead changes hands literally from minute to minute, James Kirkland gave the boxing world an astonishing gift by handing Alfredo Angulo his first knockdown in professional boxing with seconds to spare.

It wasn’t a flashy down, nor did it seem to be the result of any one punch, but it was legit, and it firmly secured Kirkland’s lead for the remainder of the evening.

Given the state of Angulo, having just been knocked down for the first time after having completely drained his stamina over 3 minutes, it was hard to see him lasting much longer in the fight.

For 5 more rounds, a startlingly fresh Kirkland clubbed away at a groggy and active, but largely ineffectual Angulo before the mighty Mexican would eventually succumb to the rising tide and be saved from himself via an early, but entirely justified TKO stoppage in the 6th round.

Pictured: The fight reaches it's conclusion.

In watching this amazing display of intestinal fortitude, one couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for Angulo, but at the same time awed by his capacity to push forward despite his damage and fatigue.

Even so, my personal opinion was that, had James Kirkland had more accurate and sharper punches, chances are Angulo would’ve been laid out no later than the 3rd round.

It’s a strange criticism for what easily amounted to a career defining, Round of the Year shoo-in performance, but one that I feel is entirely valid nonetheless.

Kirkland/Angulo may not be the best opening round of boxing I’ve ever seen, but it’s the best I’ve seen in a long time, most likely the best ever fought in my lifetime, and in my eyes; not far from second best to the magic of Hagler/Hearns.

Filed under: Boxing, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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