By John F. McKenna (McJack)
To the surprise of many boxing observers WBA light middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (37-2, 30 KO’s) was a changed fighter against former WBA/WBO/IBF welterweight champion Antonio Margarito (38-8, 27 KO’s) Saturday night.
In July 2008 Cotto suffered a huge beat down at the hands of Margarito. It was the kind of beating that left a question as to how Cotto would respond if and when he ever got into the ring again with “El Tornado”.
But Cotto was able to make the adjustments he needed to defeat Margartito in convincing fashion. No longer is Cotto the fighter who once traded shots with the likes of powerful punchers like Shane Mosley and Zab Judah.
Against Margarito on Saturday night Cotto used angles and lateral movement, not affording Antonio the opportunity to plant his feet and launch his power shots. When Margarito’s punches did land they did not have their usual force.
In addition Cotto did not allow Margarito to trap him on the ropes as he had done so many times in the first fight. Miguel was not going to allow Antonio to use his strengths and turn this fight into a war of attrition. Whenever possible Cotto deftly sidestepped Margarito and weaved his way out of trouble. In essence he followed the game plan laid out for him perfectly.
Unfortunately Margarito has only one style. He wades in an attempt to wear his opponent down and inflict the maximum amount of punishment when he traps him on the ropes. Unlike their first encounter however Cotto was not foolish enough to fight the bigger and stronger Margarito on his own terms.
Most importantly in this contest Cotto dictated the pace. He engaged Antonio only on his own terms and when he felt comfortable. This is not to say that Margarito did not land some good shots. He most certainly did. But Miguel was far more consistent and his punches were more accurate.
Finally in the brutal sport of boxing it is a given that when a boxer is handicapped by a surgically repaired right eye that a fighter as talented as Cotto is going to be able to successfully target the damaged eye. Once Margarito’s eye started to swell it was only a matter of time until the referee was going to be forced to intervene and stop the fight.
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