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Cotto vs Margarito – A Question of Psychology

by Charles Jay

I have worked with some fighters through the years, and have been around a lot of them. So I know enough to tell you that there is no such thing as a “fighter’s mindset” or a “fighter’s psychology” because they all tend to be different.

Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank

Some of them would walk through a brick wall to win a fight. Others tell you things you never thought you’d hear. I once had to pick up a fighter at the airport and take him to a fight. He was a young heavyweight who had piled up a bunch of early knockouts, and during the drive I asked him what he would do if an opponent didn’t go down when he hit him, but instead started to throw back.

He gave me a quizzical look, and told me, with a straight face that indicated he was only about 10% joking, “I really don’t know what I would do. If he took my best punch, I’d be so shocked I might just run out of the ring.”

I believe that the way some guys react to a boxing situation is a reflection of the psychological makeup they brought into boxing in the first place. Some others might develop a psychological attitude through the process of going through the meat grinder that is the boxing business, both in and out of the ring. It is not only the “theater of the unexpected,” it is often the theater of the absurd, and if you have been in it long enough, almost nothing is a surprise.

There may be a notable exception to that.

I know a lot of people think that Antonio Margarito may have brought loaded gloves into the first fight he had with Miguel Cotto, based on some of the welts Cotto had on his face in that fight, and what transpired with Margarito before a subsequent fight against Shane Mosley. Certainly Cotto believes that to be the case. In fact, it’s a big issue for him, because that may fall into the category of one of those things that is bizarre and absurd, and definitely not expected.

The question is, how will that play out as far as what happens in the ring, when they meet on Saturday at the Garden?

Cotto may be stuck on the possibility of the loaded gloves, and I guess I wouldn’t blame him if he was. Besides, from a public relations standpoint it is in his best interests to promote the lasting impression that he was not beaten legitimately.

It’s OK to acknowledge such a thing, but would it be counter-productive for him to be obsessed with it, to be re-living something in the past too much?

I’m not saying he is indeed obsessed; in fact, I would suggest that neither you or I really knows for sure what he is thinking along those lines. People in his camp, and perhaps those around his promotional team, may know for sure.

But when you’re thinking about something so much, it has a tendency to stir the emotions to such an extent that it gets in the way of the clinical approach that is generally needed when approaching a fight with a guy who may not have as much in the way of skill but is dangerous, even if he doesn’t carry rocks in his gloves.

There is another side to that coin as well. This may be the catalyst that creates a certain hyper-focus on Cotto’s part; one that is such a strong motivational factor that Cotto is able to channel that into the greatest effort of his career – something that he has within him but has to be emotionally detached enough to be able to accomplish.

So which is it going to be?

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