By Kirk Jackson
It’s a double dip of rematches that headline the boxing weekend.
First off the main attraction headlining the HBO line up is Miguel Cotto seeking revenge against Antonio Margarito.
With the historic rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico boxers already, and the history between the two fighters that even precedes this fight, this is a compelling rivalry that has developed between the two Top Rank fighters.
The first fight between the two was a classic championship welterweight bout that took place in Las Vegas, Nevada back in June of 2008.
Cotto started out strong, displaying his technical superiority in the early rounds but Margarito’s pressure and will overwhelmed Cotto during the middle rounds and well into the later rounds which ultimately resulted in a Tko stoppage for Tijuana Tornado.
This would result in the first loss of Cotto’s career, as well as physical and psychological damage that may be beyond repair as since the fight Cotto has not looked like the same fighter.
A trail of controversy has followed Margarito’s since his win over Cotto beginning immediately when he squared off against Shane Mosley in 2009. It was discovered by Mosley’s trainer Naazim Richardson, that Margarito was attempting to enter the ring in his fight against Mosley, wearing loaded hand wraps.
Many have suspected along with Cotto himself, is Margarito may have used the same illegal wraps in their bout.
No one but Margarito, his promoter Bob Arum and his trainer at the time Javier Capetillo, knows what really happened that night with the hand wrap situation. I believe this is probably something Margarito has been doing for a long time, and it wouldn’t surprise me if his promoter had prior knowledge of this illegal activity taking place.
Regardless, this is an intriguing match up because of the personal emotions involved. Neither fighter likes each other, they probably do not have any respect for one another, and this fight is personal on many levels.
HBO did a great job hyping up this event, with the Face Off and 24/7 episodes respectively, promoting this fight. Both programs gave an in depth view of the relationships of the fighters, the ups and downs, family life, training camps, basically the paths each fighter has taken since their initial bout three years ago.
As for how the fight will turn out, unfortunately both fighters are shells of their former selves. Cotto has not looked the same physically since his fight with Margarito, and has struggled against Joshua Clottey, got annihilated against Manny Pacquiao, and did not look too impressive in his most recent fight against a washed up Ricardo Mayorga.
Margarito looks like he is on the decline as well. After Mosley utterly destroyed him, he was suspended for a year and looked bad in his comeback fight against Roberto Garcia. Margarito was then steam rolled by Pacquiao, who arguably administered one of the worst beatings in Margarito’s career.
They have both accumulated a lot of damage over the past three years including in their own fight, and I do not expect to see prime versions of either fighter. Margarito also has an eye issue, a n injury he suffered against Pacquiao and I think the injury is worse than what the public was lead to believe. The only reason this fight is continuing is because of the financial implications behind the fight.
As for who will win, I believe Cotto is the emotional favorite, the crowd will support him being there is a strong support for Puerto Rican fighters in New York, and I believe many people sympathizes with his whole story. I am personally rooting for Cotto, but I think if Margarito has anything left in the tank, he has the style that will beat Cotto.
Hand wraps aside, Margarito’s physical and mental pressure wore Cotto down and if that trend continues in the second fight, I see the same result occurring again.
If Cotto is to win this fight I believe he should target Margarito’s body as well as his damaged eye. Cotto would also do well to clinch occasionally and not let Margarito get into a rhythm. Mosley effectively implored this tactic in his win against Margarito, and Cotto would benefit from this as well.
Like stated before if Margarito does resemble some of his old self, I do expect his pressure to overwhelm Cotto.
The promoter of both fighters Bob Arum has other plans, as I’m sure he is hoping for a Cotto victory so he can attempt to pull off a third fight between the two in the future.
Also featured tonight is the bantamweight championship rematch between Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko. This fight will take place on Showtime, and while I think this is a great fight and have anticipated this rematch for awhile, I think the timing is bad and Showtime did a poor job promoting this fight.
The first fight between the two was controversial and a great fight overall in itself. I think both fighters deserve the distinction of having the boxing public’s attention and should have all eyes on them during their bout. That won’t be the case with Cotto vs. Margarito airing on HBO at the same time but be as it may, this is going to be a great fight.
The first fight between the two was action packed, and expect much of the same in the rematch. Both fighters hurt each other, with Mares stunning Agbeko in the opening round, and with Agbeko retuning the favor in round four.
Unfortunately, Agbeko was the victim of many low blows that weren’t called by the referee and that may have played a factor in the majority decision that favored Mares.
I do think Mares will attempt to apply a more defensive game plan, and fight a more strategic fight imploring his counter punching abilities.
On the under card of the Mares-Agbeko card is a bout featuring Vic Darchinyan and Anselmo Moreno. Moreno has the style to beat Darchinyan and is very quick, but the question is whether he is ready to step up against great opposition. Darchinyan charges forward and has the power to out opponents out. He is also experienced and very cagey. An interesting fight to say the least.
Back on HBO, on the under card of the Cotto-Margarito head line, features two rising stars in Brandon Rios and Mike Jones.
Mike Jones a skilled, undefeated, powerful punching welterweight goes up against former Margarito opponent, Sebastian Lujan in an IBF title eliminator. I expect Jones to overwhelm Lujan, who after this fight may have to settle for being the division’s gatekeeper.
Brandon Rios, childhood rival to Victor Ortiz, goes up against Manchester’s John Murray in a lightweight championship bout. It was to be for a lightweight tile but Rios failed to make weight and was stripped of the title. Both fighters are young, experienced and talented. Look for Rios to pull out a tough victory in a highly competitive fight, but his body punching will lead him to victory in the end.
From the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, to Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, coast to coast this is a great weekend for boxing.
Whether if you’re a diehard or a casual fan, you’re in for a treat.