Boxing


Cotto-Margarito this July for the REAL Welterweight Championship

By Michael Montero: WARNING: Attention Floyd Mayweather lovers; this article contains facts that may be hard for you to swallow - please proceed with caution!

After their impressive demolition victories over capable opponents last Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, the stage is set for the #1 and #2 welterweights in boxing, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, to do battle this July (according to promoter Bob Arum). While Floyd Mayweather is universally recognized as the linear welterweight champion, I personally consider the upcoming Cotto-Margarito clash to be for the real crown. Pretty Boy sympathizers - before you get your panties all bunched up, relax and allow me to explain myself…

Nobody can deny that Carlos Baldomir was the linear champ at 147 after he upset defending champ Zab Judah in January of 2006. His follow up destruction of a shot Arturo Gatti six months later further raised his profile among the boxing public. So when Mayweather cruised to a unanimous decision victory over the Argentine later that November, he became the legitimate welterweight champ. That was a year and a half ago. Since then, he is yet to fight a single ranked welterweight and has instead elected to fight the most popular fighters at 154 (Oscar De La Hoya) and 140 (Ricky Hatton). He is yet to even be assigned a mandatory for his WBC welterweight title, let alone face one. Has Mayweather done enough to secure his status as “the man” at 147? Let’s take a look at his resume since moving up to welterweight:

* Nov 19th, 2005: Mayweather beats a completely shot Sharmba Mitchell via 6th round TKO. This was a full year after Mitchell was completely ruined by Kostya Tszyu in just three rounds.
* Apr 8th, 2006: Mayweather decisions Zab Judah, who just three months earlier lost to a career journeyman, Baldomir, in embarrassing fashion.
* Nov 4th, 2006: Mayweather decisions Baldomir in one of the most boring linear championship fights in recent memory. The Pretty Boy was widely criticized for his lackluster performance.
* May 5th, 2007: Mayweather decisions De La Hoya for a Junior Middleweight paper title in a fight that fails to live up to the hype it had received from the mainstream sports media.
* Dec 8th, 2007: Mayweather wears down and finishes the linear 140-pound champ, Ricky Hatton, via 10th round TKO in arguably his best performance since moving to welterweight.



Since then Mayweather has become a crossover star in the mainstream, having been on “Dancing with the Stars”, “Wrestlemania” and numerous sports/talk shows. He’s scheduled to face De La Hoya again later this year in a rematch NOBODY wants to see (provided Oscar gets past hand-picked opponent Steve Forbes, a natural Lightweight, this May). Keep in mind that by that time, Mayweather will have held the 147-pound WBC strap for two years and not faced a single mandatory. Its funny how these sanctioning bodies work isn’t it? Every year we see legitimate champions with lesser names than that of Money Mayweather get stripped for not facing bogus mandatories, while “faces of boxing” like Mayweather and De La Hoya seem to be exempt. Interesting indeed…

Miguel Cotto moved up to 147 at the end of 2006, right around the time Mayweather became the linear champ. Since that time he has dominated Carlos Quintana to win the vacant WBA belt, defended against mandatory Oktay Urkal (funny how he was quickly assigned a mandatory isn’t it?), knocked out Zab Judah in his backyard of New York, out-boxed Shane Mosley to a decision victory and embarrassed easy touch opponent Alfonso Gomez. Now he’s set to face Margarito, the man the Pretty Boy ducked for what would have been his highest career payday at the time, this July. That will make for six fights over the past two years compared to Mayweather’s four, five defenses of his welterweight title compared to Mayweather’s one, and a mandatory defense of said title, while Mayweather is yet to even be assigned one. Let’s also keep in mind that all of the fights I noted were at 147 pounds, against ranked welterweights and that his July match with The Tijuana Tornado will unify alphabet titles, something that Mayweather has never done.

Antonio Margarito is no slouch himself. He didn’t come up in the amateurs; he started boxing professionally at the age of fifteen and thus encountered many growing pains and learning lessons early in his career. This is typical of many Mexican fighters and is evidenced by Margarito’s early record, 9-3 (5), the boy was fighting men and literally “learning on the job”. Between 1996 and 2004 Margarito went undefeated, finally losing via Technical Decision (fight was stopped on cuts) in his lone fight at 154 pounds. He’s never been afraid to face young, avoided fighters as evidenced by his bouts against Kermit Cintron (back when Kermit was undefeated), Joshua Clottey and Paul Williams. The problem is that somewhere along the way, Antonio started to believe his own hype and came into fights unfocused and overconfident. He got away with his notorious late starts a few times, but finally paid for it in losing a close decision to Williams last July. This writer believes that should there ever be a rematch with Williams, as long as Margarito comes in focused and starts early, he stops The Punisher late. Anyway, with his second knockout victory over Cintron last Saturday, he became a two-time titlist at 147 (the IBF strap this time around) and is back on the scene in a big way. He is recognized by most boxing insiders as the 2nd best welterweight in the world behind Miguel Cotto.

Considering all of the information presented, it will be difficult and irresponsible to continue calling Floyd Mayweather “the man” at 147 by the end of the year. In my opinion, Floyd either accepts a fight with the Cotto-Margarito winner in early 2009, or we (boxing fans and media) strip him as the welterweight champ and recognize the fighter who truly earned that distinction inside the ring. Who’s with me?

Questions, comments, hate mail – you know what to do:

mike@michael-montero.com

Ciao.

Article posted on 16.04.2008



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