By Jaime Feal
This Saturday night, live from Madison Square Garden and on HBO pay-per-view, is a rematch of the 2008 classic between Miguel Angel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Those who watched the first fight no doubt at the time gave a significant power edge to Margarito. He was able to plod forward and impose his will against the smaller Cotto, and just simply appeared to hit harder. Cotto ended up with his first professional loss, by TKO no less, and Margarito looked like an absolute beast.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Public perception changed of course when Margarito was busted for loaded hand wraps before his next fight against Sugar Shane Mosley. We don’t truly know for sure whether Margarito had plaster in his hand wraps on that fateful night in 2008 against Cotto, but there is hard evidence that the gloves were loaded for Margarito’s very next fight. This makes the alleged power advantage Margarito has over Cotto extremely unreliable. With no ability to discern with any reliable certainty who has more power in their punches this fight becomes highly unpredictable.
There was serious doubt as to whether this fight would even take place. Margarito suffered a broken orbital bone in a savage beating he took at the hands of Manny Pacquiao one year ago. Due to the serious nature of his eye injury and the cataract in his right eye Margarito had trouble getting a license to fight. The NY State Boxing Commission typically does not even consider granting a license to a fighter with a cataract problem but they allowed Margarito a hearing on the matter. Several doctors testified in front of the Commission about the special surgery Margarito had where a new lens was placed in his right eye which effectively eliminated his cataract problem. The Commission ultimately agreed with these doctors and granted Margarito a license to fight deeming it to be “in the best interests of boxing.” Margarito got his license just one week before fight night and the rematch was on.
In terms of styles clashing pundits could not have picked a better matchup. Cotto is the slicker and more skilled of the two fighters and would be better served to counter punch and pick his flurries. He enjoyed a speed edge three years ago against Margarito and he should have the same advantage in quickness on Saturday. Margarito, in contrast, will attempt to represent the time-honored Mexican tradition of having no fear, coming forward, and trying to make it a bloody war. Margarito loves to put the pressure on and it is this type of style that has given Cotto problems in the past. Margarito also has a height and reach advantage which serves him well to counter Cotto’s superior skill.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact the two men despise each other. At the press conference the combatants engaged in a war of words that got very personal: .http://www.boxinginsider.com/headlines/war-of-words-margarito-and-cotto-express-mutual-hatred/
Cotto still has a lot of animosity from their controversial first fight. It is for this reason that he will be more inclined to battle it out with “The Tijuana Tornado,” especially in the later rounds. The feeling out process shouldn’t last more than a round as both boxers have lots to prove and Cotto’s WBA Super Welterweight title is on the line. Margarito would like nothing more than to capture another title from Cotto, whereas Cotto undoubtedly wants revenge and to re-establish his reputation. In what should be a wildly entertaining back-and-forth brawl, it may come down to who lands the game-changing punch. Potential Fight of the Year candidate.
Prediction: Cotto retains his title and edges out Margarito with a unanimous decision victory.