• Harry Twort

Throwback Tussles with Harry Twort: Cotto Vs Margarito II

Given the alias “The Battle”, The Grand Garden arena in Las Vegas on 26th of July 2008 hosted a welterweight clash between Miguel ‘Junito’ Cotto and Mexican Antonio ‘El Tornado de Tijuana’ Margarito. This was Cotto’s 5th attempt at defending his WBA World Welterweight title. Miguel came into the bout with an unbeaten record of 32-0 with 26 Ko’s and was looking to notch up another win against Margarito. However, this didn’t go to plan for Junito as he was shockingly stopped in round 11 of the contest, with Margarito continuously wearing Cotto down till the point of Cotto’s corner throwing in the towel.

6 months further down the line, Margarito attempted his first WBA welterweight title defence against ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley and this is where the controversy began. Before the fight, officials discovered what was described by a doctor as a 'plaster hidden in Margarito’s wrapped hands' which then led to rumours that the Mexican was trying to cheat. Robert Olvera, Mosley’s doctor compared the plaster to a type that you would make a cast with. As a result of this, Antonio had his hands re-wrapped and ended up losing to Shane Mosley in the 9th round and this had the boxing world wondering did Margarito have the plaster in his hand wraps when he fought Cotto 6 months prior? There was a lot of evidence that rose to the equation that he did indeed, as every time Margarito threw a punch at Cotto it would leave a mark. After the Mosley fight, Margarito and the man who wrapped his hands on the night Javier Capetillo (also his trainer) had their licences suspended temporarily by the California state athletic commission.

Due to all the allegations, it was clear that Cotto believed that Antonio had cheated in their first encounter and earned a richly deserved rematch some years later to the first bout, with Cotto’s WBA World Welterweight title again on the line. The notorious Madison Square Garden was the choice of venue for this bad blooded encounter and on December 3rd, 2011 Cotto stepped into the ring to seek revenge against Margarito. Miguel going into the fight had handed Ricardo Mayorga a TKO loss and had only lost 1 in 5 fights since being beaten by Margarito in their first encounter, but had won back his WBA Welterweight title with a TKO win over Israeli Yuri Foreman. However, Margarito was trying to bounce back from a loss to one of the P4P best in Manny ‘Pac-Man’ Pacquiao. Antonio had lost 2 from the 3 fights after his controversial Cotto triumph.

The fighters were in the ring ready to give it their all and to take the title back to their respected corners. As they walked over to the centre of the ring, you could feel the animosity that each fighter had towards each other. Was it going to be revenge or repeat? The first bell of the night rang with both men instantly meeting in the centre of the ring. Cotto utilised his speed and agility to his advantage for the first round by throwing combinations and moving out the way of Margarito’s unsuccessful replies allowing Cotto to comfortably take round 1.

The 2nd round began and Cotto carried on throwing his combinations and landing them with high rates of success, catching Margarito with countless explosive right and left hands to get the crowd inside MSG roaring at the top of their lungs. Antonio again exchanged very little in return whilst chasing Cotto around the ring.

With it being clear that Margarito needed to cut off the ring to gain any success, the 3rd round began and the punishment that Cotto had dished out in the first two rounds had taken a toll as he had opened a cut on the right eye of Margarito’s. Cotto began to pin Antonio to the ropes and started laying off nice combinations to worsen the cut of the Mexican, which then drew the 3rd to a close.

Round 4 ignited with Cotto using his counter punching skills to bring even more punishment to a very frustrated-looking Margarito. However, Margarito didn’t stop coming forward landing little chunks of success, but it was clear to see his punches were not having the same effect as they had in the 1st fight in 2008.

With round 4 in the books, round 5 got underway and had Antonio once again chasing Cotto around the ring with Margarito gaining most of the success courtesy of the pressure he was applying and landing significant strikes. Cotto also had his moments due to his impeccable movement, precise counter-punching abilities and beautiful combinations.

The bell sounded for round 6 and it became apparent that Margarito was beginning to potentially start closing the gap to Cotto’s lead on the scorecards as he was having more success. However, the improved success of Margarito hadn’t fazed Cotto too much as he was still moving around the ring and digging into a bloodied Margarito. As the round ventured on, Antonio was putting the pressure on Cotto but wasn’t landing any significant punches towards Miguel.

With Margarito’s right eye completely shut, the 7th round got underway. This round last time out was the turning point in the fight which Antonio took and helped him massively to earn the victory, but who would take around 7 this time? It began once again with Margarito hunting down Cotto and landing a hard right hand which was the best punch he had landed in the fight. But almost instantly Miguel came back with a 3 punch combination inflicting more agony onto Antonio’s cut. Despite Margarito’s fast start to the round, Cotto landed the more significant punches and was the successor for the 7th.

Round 8 started with Cotto bouncing around picking apart the bloody mess of Antonio Margarito with a very accurate barrage of punches. Cotto continued to make a lacklustre Margarito look silly by wearing him down even more to end the round. Many fans and pundits were now questioning how much longer this fight can go on for.

At the start of round 9, a doctor was called over to check the eye of the Mexican.... he allowed him to continue and the fight carried on. Credit to Margarito for showing plenty of heart and having some success in the 9th but it looked for all like Cotto would get his sweet revenge as Miguel continued to bully his opponent. Both fighters looked to be ready to come out for round 10 however doctors were forced to again take a look at the closed eye of Antonio’s and could see it had worsened. This concluded with the doctors advising referee Steve Smoger to call the fight off and Cotto was deservingly awarded a 9th round TKO win. Cotto then starred down the corner of Antonio’s and said the reason being was “I wanted to taste my sweet victory”.

Miguel Cotto had got his sweet revenge at last and certainly showed to me that in the first fight Margarito had cheated by using illegal hand wraps. Some would argue Margarito didn’t land as many punches as he did in the first fight but with 10 oz gloves you can’t mark up a man's face with every single punch you throw, can you?

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Written by Harry Twort