All Hail Miguel Cotto

By Robert Ecksel on December 4, 2011
All Hail Miguel Cotto
Cotto got the revenge he was seeking at Madison Square Garden (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

Cotto was showing the world something he felt the world needed to see, and he was doing it in grand style…

NEW YORK—Miguel Cotto got the revenge he was seeking Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. With discipline, focus, a solid game plan, impeccable boxing and precision punching, the WBA super welterweight champion successfully defended his title by scoring a 10th round TKO over Antonio Margarito.

Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs), fighting out of the red corner and wearing trunks with yellow and white trim, was deadly serious during his ring walk and when he entered the ring. By contrast, Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs), fighting out of the blue corner and wearing green trunks trimmed in green and white, was clowning and playing to the hostile crowd of 21,239.

But then the opening bell sounded.

The first round established from the start that Cotto was going to fight smart. He boxed and moved, landed jabs and combinations, performing almost reflexively, as if by instinct. He was beating Margarito to the punch. He looked as relaxed as relaxed can be. Cotto’s confidence was off the charts.

In round two Cotto continued to move like a dream, using every inch of the ring, and every angle, to avoid Margarito’s punches while landing his own. A Cotto punch strayed low and he was warned by referee Steve Smoger to keep them up. Margarito smiled. Cotto, fighting almost flawlessly, wiped the smile of Margarito’s face with a three-punch combination. Margarito looked baffled and outclassed.

Cotto started the third sticking and moving, landing solid combinations to Margarito’s face. Although the fight was in its early stages, Cotto’s jab had done the job and sliced Margarito’s right eyelid. Blood started trickling down Margarito’s face. Margarito forced Cotto to the ropes where the two exchanged volleys. Cotto punched his way back to center ring. Margarito was fighting back, but his punches lacked zip. It was Margarito’s best round so far. Too bad for him that Cotto drew first blood.

Round four began quickly with a Cotto left-right. The champion was fighting with his brain as well as his fists. There was no need to engage in a firefight with Margarito. Cotto moved to his left and then to his right, firing off accurate punches while in motion. Cotto landed a solid left hook, followed by a three-punch combination. Margarito’s eye began to bleed again. Margarito was stalking the champ. Because Cotto was tiring or because he wanted to go mano-a-mano, Margarito got Cotto to stand and trade and landed three quick uppercuts. Cotto backed off. Margarito’s right eye was swelling and beginning to close.

Cotto came back strong in the fifth round. Combinations followed combinations. Cotto’s straight right was bouncing off Margarito’s forehead, and his left hook was right on the money. Margarito was throwing bombs, but Cotto’s defensive mastery was making him miss. Cotto was in the zone. He was sharpshooting. A right landed, followed by right hand/left hook combination. What a performance by Cotto. He was fighting as though he knew what he needed to do, and was eminently capable of doing it.

Margarito fought as though he was on automatic pilot in round six. His right eye was closing and closing fast. He was looking for Cotto but never seemed able to find him. Margarito’s impaired vision and Cotto’s ring generalship had Margarito swinging at air. Cotto landed a double left hook to Margarito’s eye. He landed another hook followed by an uppercut. Cotto was showing the world something he felt the world needed to see, and he was doing it in style. Cotto landed two more rights. Margarito didn’t have an answer.

Cotto began round seven with a four-punch combination. He was making Margarito look like an amateur. Margarito’s eye had closed almost completely. He could no longer see Cotto’s jabs and hooks coming. He continued to chase and lunge at Cotto whenever he was in range. Margarito was growing frustrated. At the bell to end the round, he squeezed a smile from his misshapen face as he walked back to the corner. The Enswell awaited him, but he looked like a beaten man.

Round eight was more of the same. Cotto staggered Margarito with a left hook, followed by a double jab and another hook. The referee called time due to some loose tape on Cotto’s right glove. It was break for Margarito, but a break that didn’t last long enough to do him much good. The fighters returned to action and Cotto landed two lefts and a right. Margarito tried to counter with a wild swing and a miss. Another three-punch Cotto combination found its mark. As long as Cotto refused to engage, the fight was in the bag. Margarito’s right eye was completely swollen shot. An explosive Cotto uppercut ended of the round.

A ringside physician, NYSAC official, and Steve Smoger looked at Margarito closely between rounds. His face was a mess. His eye, or what could be seen of his eye, was even messier. They agreed to give Margarito one more round to try to turn things around. One more round of hope, one more round of punishment.

Round nine was Margarito’s Waterloo. He could no longer see the punches coming, and Cotto made sure to keep them coming. Margarito was still moving forward, but he was baffled by whatever it was that kept banging him on the right side of his head. Cotto had pretty much punched the fight out of Margarito. Cotto landed a jab followed by hook. A four-punch combination landed at the bell.

In Margarito’s corner, the officials examined his eye even more closely. Margarito and his trainer were begging for one more round, just one more round. But one more round wouldn’t have made any difference in the fight. After prolonged negotiation, with much distress, objection and disappointment coming from the blue corner, Steve Smoger was given the authority to call the fight. Margarito complained vehemently and shook his head in disbelief. Cotto stood silently, a bruised but victorious warrior exuding pride and satisfaction.

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  1. "Old Yank" Schneider 09:28pm, 12/04/2011

    The Thresher—I agree 100% with you over the disgracefulness of the tentativeness at the end of the bout.  Margarito’s corner continued to work on his eye non-stop after the bell rang for the start of the 10th!  What was Smoger waiting for, an opportunity for enough time to stitch Margarito back up so he could be sent back in?

  2. "Old Yank" Schneider 09:23pm, 12/04/2011

    The Thresher—Margarito was a stalk, stun and kill kind of fighter BEFORE the Mosley bout and a stalk and get his face beaten to a pulp kind of fighter ever since.  If anyone needs PROOF that Margarito had been loading for a long time, they need only deny their lying eyes of the stunning difference in Margarito’s performances from before and after getting caught.  I am more convinced than ever that Margarito loaded his gloves for the first Cotto bout.

  3. the thresher 11:55am, 12/04/2011

    As Max Kellerman said correctly, the injury that Tony sustained was one that would’ve allowed many other fights to continue. The disdainn that so many (including Lampley during the telecast) and the commission had for Margarito going into the fight influenced their decision IMO.

    That said, in the end he really could not see and therefore the fight was correctly stopped.

    Sadly, and I mean sadly for those of us who so thoroughly enjoyed watching Margarito fight through the years, Tony’s best years are behind him.

    On the other hand, if the fight was a fight to the death, Tony would still be chasing Cotto through the streets of Manhattan this morning.

    Adios Tony.

  4. the thresher 11:46am, 12/04/2011

    FranklinDallas, Smoger is the most overrated referee in history.

  5. "Old Yank" Schneider 10:54am, 12/04/2011

    FranklinDallas—ONLY Smoger had the power to stop the bout.  A doctor cannot stop a bout in New York.

  6. FrankinDallas 09:45am, 12/04/2011

    Yes, Cotto fought a great fight while backing away from the stronger guy. Just like Marquez did a couple weeks ago….oops, my bad; Pacman won.

  7. FrankinDallas 09:40am, 12/04/2011

    Didn’t Smoger have the right to stop the fight as well as the Doctor? If so, he should have just taken control and ended things. If not, then the Doctor should have acted more decisively.

    PLease let’s stop all this talk about Canelo. Give the kid another 4-5 fights before throwing him to the lions. He doesn’t need to be Poveticised (act of protecting a boxer from improving) but give him some time…he’s only 21 for god’s sake!

  8. the thresher 08:42am, 12/04/2011

    The Tache, some catch weight fights would be interesting for him. Maybe even Mayweather. Maybe a remath with Pac. Kirkland is not ready IMO, but Chavez or Alvraez are both prime candidates. The real issue for me is how likely is it that Cotto could get himself prepared again like he did last night?

  9. mikecasey 08:21am, 12/04/2011

    Very good win. Very well executed.

  10. The Tache 08:19am, 12/04/2011

    I can’t tell you how happy I am for Cotto after exacting some measure of revenge from Margarito.

    Cotto is one of my favourite fighters of recent years and I can’t understand why so many people seem to have written him off after the Pacman fight.

    Now, how about sorting out the young upstart, Canelo Alvarez, that’s a fight I wouldn’t mind seeing, although maybe Alvarez is still a little green and probably wouldn’t get matched with Cotto yet.

    Anyone have any thoughts on a Kirkland v Cotto match up instead?

  11. the thresher 08:01am, 12/04/2011

    The tentativeness at the end was disgracful. The NYSAC and its officials have made themselves look like idiots before this fight, during the taping, and at the end. You either stop it or you don’t. You don’t make a circus out of it.

    The doctor was too tentative. SS seemed confused as well.

  12. the thresher 07:54am, 12/04/2011

    Cotto fought an almost perfect fight for rematching Margarito. He was focused and disciplined..

    He stayed off the ropes. He circled and moved constantly. He backpedaled but only after hitting Margo him with scoring and punishing shots and caught many uppercuts with a cupped hand. He never allowed himself to be caught on the ropes for any significant time, and interestingly, he tied up when he needed to. He pushed back. And he prepared for twelve hard rounds so his stamina did not become a problem.

    In other words, he fought a very smart and effective fight and was well prepared.

    Last time, he did none of those things.

    This time, he intelligently aimed for and tagged an eye that was pre-disposed to injury (he got it 86 times)….but an injury that bad has memory and so did the eye.

    Cotto, drastically reduced Margarito’s punch percentage, though Margo’s punches were begiinning to bust up Cotto.

    Plus Margarito fought four rounds with limited or no peripheral vision at all due to the swelling caused by Cotto’s punches.

    Conclusion: Cotto did exactly what he had to do to win. He fought a perfect fight—a 10 on a scale of 1-10.

  13. "Old Yank" Schneider 03:00am, 12/04/2011

    One of Arum’s comments at the post-fight presser said a mouthful: “Miguel fought like a Cuban tonight.”  A tribute to Cotto’s new trainer—who I suspect we will be hearing a lot more about in the future.

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