Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito: The Men, The Myth
25.07.08 - By Vivek Wallace, photo by Chris Farina / Top Rank: As we hoan in on Saturday's mega-fight between Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto and Mexican Antonio Margarito, it seems everyone with an opinion has voiced it already. Fans, fugitives, boxing scribes and desperate housewives; every last one of them have decided to chime in and give their take on this spectacle we all await. As great as it is to here the varied rhetoric, few have stopped to take a moment out to actually celebrate the two men now at center stage. Today, rather than talking left-hooks and uppercuts, we take the path least followed and analyze a few random tidbits about these two men that most fight fans never knew. The kind of things that not only tell us who they are, but why they've been ultimately driven to reach the pinnacle in which they now stand. For example, it's easy for the average fight fan to point out the fact that Miguel Cotto is a 'body-snatcher' with a strong penchant for wearing an opponent down, but how many people out there knew that this phenom we've all come to love and adore would not have happened if it weren't for his Mother's cooking. Yep, at only age 11, a young Miguel Cotto was a hefty 156lbs, and only got into boxing because his brothers were doing it, and it was a good way for him to "try to lose some weight". Probably not the message our parents had in mind when they told us "don't throw any food away because there are people in the world without it", but hey, we now know at least one success story to motivate our kids with as a result of that strategy, huh?
And how about the fact that Antonio Margarito only started boxing because he had no way to support himself on the poverty stricken streets of Tijuana, Mexico. In his own words, "[he] only had two choices in life to make money.....a good one, and a bad one"; and subsequently, he chose the one that led him to the Mecca - Las Vegas for the biggest fight in his career which will take place in front of all of his people on the west coast that he is rarely able to display his talents in front of. Guess hard work and dedication does pay off. Apparently the vision he had has a child when he met fellow Mexican idol Julio Cesar Chavez was well worth it, as he stuck with his plan and kept his eyes on the prize. He now finds himself set to make well above $5M for his fight with Miguel Cotto after previously receiving very small fight purses, including his initial pro fight where he only netted a whopping $40 - which was actually paid in pasos. Now that's motivation!
Another uncommon piece of info about Antonio Margarito is the fact that he - by his own admission - is "not athletic at all" and has little to no interest whatsoever in any other sport. He is a student of the fight game, as he literally eats, drinks, and sleeps, nothing but boxing. In an interview years ago he was quoted as telling a sportswriter how embarrassed he was when he was doing another interview and was asked a question about soccer and had no clue what the heck the guy was talking about. Now that's what I would call a true fight aficionado!
It's very easy to see these fighters as something you perceive them to be, and have no idea that behind the scenes they're totally different men that love, live, and laugh just like the rest of us. In appearance - particularly after experiencing his antics upon knocking out welterweight Kermit Cintron - Antonio Margarito seems brash, and a bit cold blooded, but few realize that those close to him find his as not only an overly affectionate guy, but a very shy one as well. To the opposite, The official 'Countdown To Margarito-Cotto" televised on HBO showed us that Miguel Cotto has a sense of humor that most thought never existed. Let Team Cotto camp insiders tell it, he's the biggest prank artist of them all. Kind of hard to imagine when you see his ring disposition huh?
When looking at these two guys it's quite easy to think that they're so blessed, and that they don't have a care in the world, but few understand the discipline it took to get them where we currently see them. For Margarito, this is a discipline so defined that he and wife Michelle - whom he's known since elementary school - decided that as much as they want kids after being married nearly a decade, they would hold off until they feel totally secured financially. If that isn't motivation to find success, it's hard to pin down what exactly is? In a recent interview, it seems as if he's quite ready for that 'step-up' in their modest lifestyle, quoted as saying "waiting for this huge opportunity definitely made [him] more hungry", and that winning this fight will "move [him] to another level as a Mexican icon as well as fulfil many promises" in his career.
Whether you're Mexican, Puerto Rican, or somewhere in between, at the end of the day, these two warriors are not only great in the ring, but great ambassadors for the game. And to take it step further, not only are they stellar performers, but they're also husbands, Fathers (Miguel Cotto), brothers, and children. When you take a look at the long road they both traveled to land them in this perfect destination, you have to realize that come Saturday night, regardless of which hand is held high in the end, you will have still witnessed two men that have won the game of life, regardless.
With Day 3 down, only 2 more remain until the first bell rings.....
(Today's piece was all in fun, but tomorrow it's back to reality. Check out the fifth installment of the '7-Gun Salute' to Margarito/Cotto in the weekly 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment: Margarito/Cotto - Step Forward or Fall Back!!!)
(Got Questions or Feedback? Write ESB's Vivek Wallace at email@example.com or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
Article posted on 24.07.2008
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