The 'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Weekly Q&A Mailbag (All Cotto & Margarito)
In this weeks 'Left-Hook Lounge' Q&A Mailbag session, we take a look at a few questions directly from the fans. As a Boxing scribe, it's easy to discuss these questions from the comfort of my office space, but for the two men standing in the ring come Saturday night, any true fight fan knows that nothing involved in this fight will come easy. Not the questions pondered by the fans, and certainly not the answers rendered by the fighters in the end. Our first question today comes from...........
Article posted on 23.07.2008
Ricky S. (Dallas, TX): Antonio Margarito has been in the sport longer, but he has not faced as many big names on a stage like he's about to take part in. Do you think the fact that Miguel Cotto has been in these type of mega-fights before gives him an edge?
Vivek W. (ESB): I think that to a certain degree, headlining PPV cards and being on such a big stage against marquee fighters in the past will help Cotto. The flipside to that argument, however, is that Cotto has fought arguably all of his big fights while being supported by a very partisan New-Yorican crowd. Any one who has ever been in sports can attest to the adrenaline rush received when thousands behind you are chanting your name. The true question could end up being how well does Cotto handle a spectacle this large when he gets in trouble during the fight and people are raving for the opponent who could be trying to finish him off? That's a scenario few have openly considered, but hey, this is Vegas, not New York. When on the east coast, Puerto Rican fans come a dime a dozen. That following isn't as large near the west coast which is predominantly a Mexican base. I think this question ultimately plays just as big of a role as Cotto's past success in big fights before a crowd partisan in his favor. Bottomline, for the first time, probably ever, Cotto finds himself on someone elses turf in a big fight, and I have to think that accounts for something. If not now, it will when he gets wobbled and notices in his peripheral that the people are standing to their feet, but only this time in support of the other guy.
Marco Reyes (Miami Lakes, Florida): People said Zab Judah would be too much for Cotto. Then they said Shane would be too much for Cotto. Neither was in the end, so why should we believe that Margarito would be better than those two?
Vivek W. (ESB): Personally, I feel Miguel Cotto defeating Judah and Mosley was an accomplishment, but I fall in that silent minority that feels this accomplishment may not be as grand as some may purport because these two fighters - stylistically - are one in the same. One would think that with Shane being more of a veteran he would have fought a better veteran fight, but Shane got caught up into a promise he made many members of the media, which was that he would "take the fight to Cotto". It backfired. Judah used more defense but unfortunately, was not as durable and subsequently fell on the short end of the stick because of it. Other than that, both are relatively the same style of fighter. Both have fast hands and basically use that speed to keep opposing fighters on their toes due to the fact that you rarely know when they're gonna hit you until you've been hit. Cotto is a masterful boxer and his lessons learned against a fast, yet not as complete vet like Judah helped him ultimately develop a blueprint to defeat Shane. What makes Antonio Margarito a bigger challenge is a totally different dimension. Judah and Mosley are both fighters who use alot of traps to set an opponent up for a big shot. Margarito, in contrast, is the type of fighter that literally throws every shot with wicked intentions. There are no traps, and no bait. Whether it's his left-hook, his right uppercut, or whatever else in between, he throws them all with intentions to put someone in the ultimate star-gazing position. That's part of the allure that makes him a deadly opponent. One other thing, alot of people will say that Joshua Clottey had good success against Margarito as a smaller fighter and is similar to Cotto - with his straight ahead aggression. My response, and I might add that I have yet to hear anyone discuss this, (media or non-media), but by Clottey's own admission, the reason that both of his hands were hurt going into the fourth round was because he landed the very hardest shots he could land, as flush as he could land them, constantly in the first 3 rounds. Clottey is a power puncher, so to hear him say that he hurt his hands due to the frequency and power that used against Margarito tells me that Margarito has a head made of granite. It says alot when a fighter loses confidence and feels pain as a result of his hardest shots not being effective. Although Margarito is nowhere near as fast as Judah and Mosley, he doesn't have to be because with a chin that strong and power-shots that wicked, chances are, he's gonna hurt Cotto before Cotto hurts him. I could go on for days, but in a nutshell, this is why he is a tougher challenge. He will be willing to take far more punishment than Mosley and Judah, because he knows that he can, and when he delivers his own, it comes 10x worst.
Vernon Williams (Bronx, NY): How much of a factor do you think the height and reach advantage for Margarito will play a role in the final analysis?
Vivek W. (ESB): It all depends on what strategy Miguel Cotto employs. If he comes in and uses his gift to box from the outside and use his speed to pick his spots, Margarito's size and reach advantages mean little to nothing. If Cotto decides to employ a brawling strategy, although he has the power to land clean shots and make them sting, he could end up taking more punishment than he needs to, and subsequently losing the fight as a result. Cotto simply can't allow himself to stay within Margarito's 'kill zone'. If he doesn't create enough space to help him nullify the height and reach advantages, the results will undoubtedly speak for themselves in the end.
Marty Brooks (Norfolk, VA): Do you see any scenario where Antonio Margarito will beat Miguel Cotto if the fight goes to the cards?
Vivek W. (ESB): No. The only way I see Margarito defeating Miguel Cotto on points is if Margarito lands multiple knockdowns and Cotto keeps coming back, resulting in a few 10-8 rounds. (Possible, but very improbable). One other scenario that could play itself out is one in which Miguel Cotto gets confused with strategy. Cotto has evolved into a master boxer, but if the pressure of Margarito becomes too great, none of us know what to expect from Cotto if he gets uncomfortable coming in - (based on Margarito landing power-shots) - and also fails to get into a rhythm from the outside based on the constant flurry of pressure from Margarito on the outside. Once again, I don't see either of these scenario's playing out, but they are all possible, which highlights exactly why this fight is so marveled. Literally, anything can happen, and I think fight fans on both sides of the spectrum should prepare themselves for anything because we have two phenomenal talents that could change the fight at any given moment.
Paul J. (Sacramento, CA): Win or lose, what do you see in the future for both men when the results are in Saturday night?
Vivek W. (ESB): A victory for Miguel Cotto almost certainly means a shot at Oscar De La Hoya in December. As crazy as it sounds, a lost on the other hand may yield the same results. I think the money fight for Oscar is clearly Miguel Cotto. I was beginning to think that Oscar would lean towards a showdown with Pacquiao but Oscar De La Hoya was quoted within the last day or so telling a member of the media that he feels Pacquiao needs to basically settle his score with Marquez before he considers anything else. While I would agree with Oscar De La Hoya, the fact that he would say that about a man who is open and actively lobbying to get a mega-fight with him tells me that he's not too interested. We can all speculate as to why that might be. Antonio Margarito on the other hand, a win for him could potentially leave him still looking for a meaningful fight. Sure, the winner of the Clottey/Judah showdown may want to fight to unify a few straps, or Williams may want to do it all over again with him, but does Oscar De La Hoya step up and face his fellow Mexican? Considering that his last fight is tentatively set for December 6th, and there's no way to piggy back off of a festive Cinco de Mayo Mexican crowd to pump the fight up, he's gonna argue that there's a bigger fight somewhere out there with his name on it. In all likelihood, for me personally, if Margarito wins convincingly, I wouldn't mind seeing him jump up in the future somewhere near the Middleweight ranks to challenge Kelly Pavlik. Williams and Margarito are the only welterweights that I think could come close to doing this with reasonable success. If he's able to handle Cotto's power, I would love to see how he handles that of a Kelly Pavlik, and more importantly, how would Pavlik handle his work rate and power, combined with his gritty chin. Some may laugh at the notion, but they did the same thing back in September of 2007 when I said we would see Hopkins/Pavlik by Summer '08, (revisit the article), and in an apparent prophetic moment, we now learn that the prediction itself was only 2 months off! Trust me fight fans, anything is possible in this sport. Some guys truly want to make the best fights, and those are the guys whose name you will see time and time again. Pavlik and Margarito fit that mold.
Day 4 is now officially down.....Only 3 days remain
(Check out tomorrows fourth installment of the '7-Gun Salute' to these two brave warriors: "Cotto/Margarito: The Men, The Myth"....which will take a look at the lives of the two men in and outside the ring, providing truths, dispelling rumors)
(Got Questions or Feedback?: Write ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
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