People wonder why Floyd Mayweather Jr and Shane Mosley passed on fighting Antonio Margarito. On Saturday evening, Margarito showed the world why.
The highly anticipated war between welterweights Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas was exactly what boxing needed – an instant classic that gave boxing fans all over the world all they could handle and then some. When the dust and debris settled, Antonio Margarito regained the WBA welterweight title with a grueling 11th round TKO victory of Miguel Cotto in front of a near capacity crowd of Mexican and Puerto Rican supporters that witnessed a bout that was one for the ages.
Margarito looked as if he may be outfoxed by Cotto’s superior boxing abilities early on. But as the rounds went by, an increasingly relentless Margarito closed the distance and with every thudding uppercut and devastating body punch took a chunk out of the usually durable Miguel Cotto. By the 11th round, Margarito had been so mercilessly bludgeoned by his opponent that his corner threw in the towel to save Cotto from further punishment.
Early on, Cotto looked brilliant as he stuffed his jab in Margarito’s face and kept his opponent off balance with an excellent showcase of hand speed and footwork. The exceptional quickness was evident early as Cotto would reel off multiple combinations and, just as Margarito would get close, Cotto would squirrel away and shuffle to the opposite end of the ring. In the fifth round it looked as if Cotto would be too much for the Mexican as he closed the round slipping six straight punches with bad intentions. Puerto Ricans went wild but Margarito would be undeterred.
Margarito would take Cotto’s best and shrug it off as if it were merely a speed bump on his path to destruction. By the sixth round, Cotto wasn’t fighting Margarito for twelve rounds – he was fighting for his life. It would be a valiant attempt by Cotto but there’s just something about those Mexican fighters that puts them in a class of their own. The war was wearing on Cotto but every second that passed made Margarito stronger and would find Cotto’s will wilting away.
By the 10th round, Margarito was stuffing Cotto full of uppercuts and vicious body punches that the Puerto Rican just couldn’t get away from any longer. It seemed that the expressionless Cotto was being dismantled right before the crowd of half Mexican and half Puerto Rican’s very eyes. Cotto’s heart wouldn’t allow him to quit – but his body could take no more.
Round eleven found Margarito on the prowl again as Cotto did everything he could to keep Margarito from catching him on the ropes. Unfortunately, the heart can’t make the body do what it can’t. A left uppercut followed by a right uppercut sapped all the life Cotto had left as he took a knee to avoid any further punishment. Cotto’s will would pull him to his feet but the shark smelled the blood in the water. With the Mexican fans erupting, Margarito launched another violent barrage at Cotto and the former champion sank to a knee again. This time, trainer/uncle Evangelista Cotto couldn’t watch his nephew take the brutal beating any longer and threw in the towel at 2:05 to save him from further damage.
“Obviously, Cotto is a very strong fighter,” Margarito, who improves to 37-5 with his 27th KO, said in celebration. “I told my corner during the fight that I would knock him out and it did come he never hurt me but that was the game plan – to come out strong and knock him out. I got him with body shots, then hit him in the head and knocked him out.”
Cotto – who falls to 32-1 (26 KOs) – would vacate the ring immediately after the loss but would speak from his locker room before being taken to the hospital. Cotto had taken the emotional and physical beating of his life and could possibly stay away from the ring for the rest of 2008.
“I am very proud and very happy I was able to give the fans a great fight,” Cotto said. “Life continues. It’s not over for me. I’m going to take a long rest, decide what to do next. This night was Margarito’s night. He’s an excellent fighter. He did his job better than I did.”
For Margarito, a performance such as this proves that the sky is the limit. But with such a loaded division, who is next to step up to the Tijuana Tornado’s challenge? Joshua Clottey and Zab Judah have a Welterweight fight with serious implications on August 2nd and then there’s the option to avenge his loss to Paul Williams. But there’s a certain Golden Boy that might tickle the fancy of Mexican fight fans everywhere.
“Oscar De La Hoya is one of the best,” Margarito stated in regards to being the Golden Boy’s opponent for his Dec. 6th swan song. “If he comes through with his promise, we can give Mexicans a true battle.”