Boxing


Sharkie’s Machine: Margarito Too Tough For Cotto

By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: What a GREAT fight! Will beat skill. Brawler beat boxer. Stamina beat speed. Underdog beat favorite. Styles make fights and on paper, Cotto was rightfully the favorite because he’s the better boxer, has good power and commanding ring generalship. But it came down to who could take a punch better. The story of this fight was Margarito’s tremendous stamina and durability in a classic comeback victory..

Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, former WBA Welterweight champ, Miguel Cotto (32-1, 26 KO’s) brought his unbeaten record, stellar reputation and A game to fight the man few fighters want anything to do with, Antonio Margarito (36-5, 27 KO’s). Cotto put on an impressive performance that saw him dominate the first half of the fight as he out boxed and out scored Margarito, all while effectively playing Matador to Margarito’s Bull in the ring.

Cotto started aggressive, applying pressure and landing the cleaner shots. Cotto’s use of the ring was impeccable, his timing impressive, his accuracy, undeniable. Even when Margarito landed shots, Cotto took them well and used his superior boxing skills to make him pay with excellent counter punching.

Margarito started slow, took what Cotto had and must’ve been saving his energy for the second half of the fight. He didn’t look impressive early on but stuck to his game plan of applying non stop pressure. Margarito was ineffective early, allowing Cotto to out box and out score him. Antonio took a lot of clean shots in the first six rounds but his chin and conditioning proved reliable.

Margarito never let Cotto’s assets get in the way of doing what he does; applying pressure with punches. After six rounds, I didn’t think Margarito had won a round yet, but the tide turned in the seventh.

Margarito’s pressure became a factor after Cotto spent much of his energy dominating the early rounds. Margarito focused his offense on body shots that put Cotto into a defensive mode and up against the ropes. Margarito staggered Cotto with 1:30 to go in the seventh round with a flurry of shots to the body and head. Cotto absorbed it as best he could and rallied with a flurry that scored but Margarito ignored, while continuing to press him back into the ropes. Cotto held and managed to make it out of the round but it was clear that though Margarito could take Cotto’s best shots but Cotto couldn’t take Margarito’s. The fight had taken a new direction that favored the stronger chinned Margarito.

Margarito harassed Cotto, whose nose was bloody, eyes swelling and showing a wobble in his step. Though Cotto landed crisp combos, Margarito bullied Cotto into retreat mode. By the ninth round, Margarito was all over Cotto like a rash. Cotto was running out of gas, confidence and chin. And Margarito was only just starting to come alive. Cotto landed cleaner punches in the ninth but looked fatigued, beat up and ready to fall from Margarito’s relentless pressure.

Cotto landed numerous clean shots but Margarito’s chin was like stone. He was never stunned, wobbled, staggered or hurt in this fight in spite of Cotto’s impressive accuracy and considerable power.

In the tenth round, Cotto landed a big left hook…but Margarito just kept coming. Cotto regained some momentum when Margarito started hitting a lot of air for a while. Later in the round, Margarito caught Cotto with a left hook to the head that staggered him…with just a few seconds left in the round. Cotto was in trouble. The bell saved him. During the break, his team attended him with an urgency never seen in Cotto’s corner before. It was all on the line and Cotto was looking vulnerable.

When action resumed, Margarito pressed Cotto, who counter punched his way out of the tornado on occasion but didn’t have enough chin left to handle the constant attack of Margarito. Cotto’s power was fading along with his stamina as Margarito chased him into the ropes and tagged him to the body before landing a clean shot to the top of the head. Bloodied and battered, Cotto was hurt and the instinct of self preservation took over as Cotto took a knee.

When action resumed, Margarito went for the finish. Cotto tried to hold. Margarito pressed him to the opposite side of the ring and Cotto dropped to a knee in surrender, right before Margarito’s inevitable onslaught. At 2:05 of the eleventh, Cotto’s corner threw in the towel and it was over. Margarito won by KO -11. I still can’t believe it.

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Congratulations to Antonio Margarito, who surprised a lot of people with his KO win over one of the best fighters in all of boxing. As for Cotto, he’ll be back. If he fights Margarito again, he’d do well to temper his pace early on and save the best for last.

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Comments can be emailed to dshark87@hotmail.com

Article posted on 27.07.2008



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