John F. McKenna (McJack)
Saturday nights rematch between WBA light middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (36-2, 29 KO’s) and former WBA/IBF welterweight champion Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KO’s) is the ultimate grudge match. When they first fought in July 2008 Cotto was battered into submission after out boxing Margarito in the early rounds. Antonio used relentless pressure to wear down Cotto and finally stopped him in the 11th round, leaving his face a bloody mess.
Suspicion later arose when prior to Margarito’s fight with Shane Mosley in January 2009 it was discovered that Antonio had illegal wraps in his gloves which had the same effect as being hit with plaster of Paris. Going into the Mosley fight Margarito was a solid 4-1 favorite but Mosley dominated the contest, stopping Antonio in the 9th round.
Cotto is convinced that Margarito used the illegal wraps in their fight and has displayed a picture taken after their fight which appears to show blood on the gauze around Antonio’s hands. Subsequently Cotto has referred to Antonio as a criminal. Margarito for his part denies that illegal hand wraps were used in his first fight with Cotto. Margarito received a one year suspension for the illegal hand wraps which were removed before the Mosley fight.
Both Cotto and Margarito were beaten decisively by Manny Pacquao. Manny scored a TKO win over Cotto in November 2009 and won a one sided, unanimous decision over Margarito in November 2010. In the Pacquiao fight Antonio suffered a broken orbital bone in his right eye and the fight with Cotto appeared to be in jeopardy until he was cleared by two doctors to fight last week. Both doctors, one a Top Rank doctor and the other a commission doctor gave their approval to go ahead with the fight on December 3.
The fight will be held in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The last minute problems which came up threatened to move the fight to another location which would have been a major headache for Top Rank promoter Bob Arum. 18,000 tickets had already been purchased prior to Margarito getting approval for the fight.
There are a couple of imponderables in Cotto – Margarito II. One is how much the severe beating Antonio took at the hands of Manny Pacquiao will impact his performance? The other unknown is how will Cotto react when heavy pressure is applied by Margarito? Cotto has had over three years to play and replay the tapes in his head of the beating he took in his first fight with Margarito.