by Charles Jay
Revenge is not for the feint of heart. As such, I don’t recommend it for everybody.
I really mean that. The people who are able to pull it off successfully are the ones who strap on a pair of balls and swing away, either not caring in the least what the blowback is, or fully prepared for it.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Boxing people are used to revenge as a tactic, because it is very much a part of doing business. You see, when somebody steals your fighter or a booking, or stiffs you on a purse or a commission, you had BETTER get revenge or else the next guy who comes along to do business with you will invariably try to do the same thing. I’m relatively confident it’s the same in a lot of other businesses, except in boxing it’s….well, it just happens a lot more often.
It doesn’t take terribly long for people in the industry get indoctrinated, As the Hall of Fame matchmaker Teddy Brenner used to say. “The first year you do it for the money; the next year you do it for the revenge.”
Some don’t like to admit it, but we have a tendency to respect people who have demonstrated a capacity to extract revenge, perhaps because we know that they recognized that they have been violated and they would not allow themselves to rest without doing something about it.
As somebody (I forgot who) once said, “Those who turn the other cheek get hit with the other fist.”
That’s a thought Antonio Margarito probably does not want to have for a while, or at least until the swelling goes down.
I like to think I have an advanced degree in revenge, honed through experience, but this was an instance where I had to really stand up and take notice. Many of us can only wish in our lifetime that we could get the kind of payback Miguel Cotto was able to exact on Saturday night, literally from beginning to end.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
And I bet some of you respect him a lot more this week than you did last week.
What made it particularly impressive was that it was so deliciously ruthless. Margarito came in with that questionable eye that caused the New York commission to take a second look (pardon the pun) about licensing him. A lesser man may have thought somewhat differently, but Cotto wanted to take that eye right out of the socket. The graphic after the fight (and before Emanuel Steward told us what a nice guy he is) showed that he hit Margarito with 86 punches on that right eye,
Now THAT’S what I call a game plan!
Earlier in the week we talked about how Cotto may have been getting obsessed with the idea that he could not have accumulated all that vicious punishment to the face the first time around without Margarito’s gloves being loaded.
As it turns out, it was just the right dose of obsession for the occasion. Whether or not Margarito was cheating the first time around was somewhat immaterial; as long as COTTO believed it to be true, it was going to serve as just the right kind of motivator.
He closed his opponent’s eye, and got to close some old wounds from the past at the same time.
Did I hear something about a dish best served cold? Try this: Cotto is staring down his man – not just before the fight, but then after the fight as well, when it’s all over, when he’s gotten what he came for. Just to stick the knife in a little more.
He said that he wanted to “taste his victory.” Beautiful!
And then the icing on the cake – he gets to tell the whole world that, no, Margarito hit a little bit more like a featherweight this time around, relative to the last time.
The message – see what happens when you inject fair play into the equation?
It’s almost like a dream. If it wasn’t for the fact that Margarito was able to conjure a huge payday out of this whole thing, it would have been a completely perfect evening. Why could Top Rank’s “winner-take-all” plan have gone into action here, so that Margarito could have walked away from this thing with an eye he couldn’t see out of, a bad reputation that was reaffirmed, a career that is effectively over, and no money on top of that?
The answer to that question is that, well, you can’t have everything.
I’m not being completely tongue-in-cheek here. Think about that girlfriend that broke up with you to go out with another guy. Think about the boss that passed you over for a promotion. Think about the cop who pulled you over and wrote you a ticket for no reason at all.
Then think of what you would do to return the favor, if you had the chance to “taste the victory,” and the balls to really make it happen. That’s what Miguel Cotto got for himself.
He write his dissertation on Saturday night. He got his PhD in revenge. He could even teach a class in it at this point.
In the movie “The Sting,” Paul Newman told Robert Redford, “Revenge is for suckers.” I don’t believe that, not for a minute. I believe, in fact, that revenge is the ultimate ANTI-sucker activity.
But I also believe that it is wasted to an extent if it’s an end, rather than a new beginning. Where Cotto goes from here, now that he has conquered this demon, is what is most important.
It will be interesting to see.