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Miguel Cotto: Of Anger and Atonement

by Hans Olson

The most recent episode of HBO’s “24/7: Cotto/Margarito” provided us with another stirring landscape of emotions. For Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, the most glaring emotion we’veseen is anger.

Photo: Ed Keenan/Top Rank

“No matter what, I’m preparing myself to beat Margarito’s ass. He played with my health. He can play every day with his.”

Miguel Cotto’s anger is undisguised. He wants revenge.

Saturday night at New York’s historical Madison Square Garden, he’ll have his chance. It’s been three long years since Miguel Cotto received the first loss of his pro career, an 11th round TKO to Antonio Margarito. In the fight, many feel the irreversible damage inflicted on Miguel was due in part to an alleged use of illegal hand-wraps worn by Margarito.

“I don’t feel any respect for him, you know? And I’m going to take advantage of his eye like he took advantage of the plaster,” affirmed Cotto.

Antonio Margarito, had a somewhat more defiant stance.

“Fuck Cotto. If they think that I had plaster, it will hurt like I was using plaster. And he will know it.”

Anger, is also felt closest to Miguel Cotto. His wife, Melissa, shared her feelings for the “24/7” cameras.

Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank

“I remember that during that fight, I forgot that I had my three kids next to me,” said Melissa. “I’ve been through a lot in life, a lot of suffering. But nothing could ever compare to watching Miguel destroyed the way that he was, bleeding like never before. Like never before. I can tell you, it’s really a fight that scarred us. Really difficult. To see Margarito…anger. It fills me with anger, because he played with the life of my husband.”

That Miguel Cotto, his wife, Antonio Margarito, and everyone involved in this fight’s sequel find their emotions rooted in anger is understandable. For Miguel Cotto, not just his boxing career and his undefeated record were at stake in July 2008…so too was his life.

For Antonio Margarito, the assertion that illegal wraps were used against Cotto basically nullifies the greatest win of his career.

The question then, is why is this second fight taking place? For years, many had thought Miguel Cotto shouldn’t give Antonio Margarito the time of day, let alone a rematch. The general consensus being that if Margarito had played with Cotto’s health, a rematch was not deserved.

Cotto continued with his career after the Margarito loss, beating Michael Jennings in February 2009 to claim the WBO’s vacant Welterweight Championship. That June, Cotto defeated Joshua Clottey in a competitive 12-round decision.

Then, he fought Manny Pacquiao.

For the first few rounds, Cotto was competitive with “Pacman,” but as the rounds wore on, Manny Pacquiao took control and brutalized Miguel. If the Margarito loss had taken years off his career, certainly Manny Pacquiao took a few more. Few thought Miguel would ever be the same again. In some ways, he hasn’t.

In 2010, Miguel brought in renowned trainer Emmanuel Steward. The pair seemed to work well together; Steward offering his wisdom, helping Miguel regain a degree of confidence that may have been lost in the Margarito and Pacquiao disappointments. Against Yuri Foreman and Ricardo Mayorga, Miguel fought better, winning decisively in each bout.

Since the Mayorga fight, Cotto has split with Steward, bringing in acclaimed Cuban trainer Pedro Diaz. Diaz, who has a Master’s degree in sports training, along with a Major in Physical Culture and Sports, could be a key factor in the fight. Pedro’s unique systematic training methods, briefly shown in “24/7,” starkly contrast that of previous trainers. Fighting Antonio Margarito again, Cotto could be getting the physical and psychological edge he needs to enter the fight. Diaz, having had no connection to the first fight between Cotto and Margarito, therefore offers a separate mental clarity that could be a blessing.

Again though, many will still ask why Cotto is giving Margarito this chance? For someone who described his dog as being “more person than him” in the first episode of “24/7:Cotto/Margarito; one wonders why.

Certainly, the large payday Miguel Cotto will receive played a large part. So too though I theorize, is the deep respect Miguel Cotto truly does have for Antonio Margarito. Seeing what Margarito went through in the Pacquiao fight earned Margarito the respect of many, and I’d assume Cotto as well.

Miguel Cotto has long been one of the most admirable sportsmen in boxing.

He is angry.
He wants revenge.
But he also wants to give Antonio Margarito a shot at proving what he really is as a fighter, without loaded gloves. Miguel Cotto is that kind of man. Miguel Cotto is someone who, despite any bitterness he may feel, knows that in a way he’s helping Antonio Margarito prove something to him personally, along with the rest of the boxing world.

This is something Miguel Cotto has to do. Not for anyone else but himself.

There’s a Purto Rican proverb that says “you may light another’s candle with your own without loss.”

Regardless of the outcome Saturday night, there is only one man who can’t lose.

And that man’s name is Miguel Cotto.

Win or lose on Saturday night, Miguel Cotto will have atoned it all.

Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @hansolson



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