By Ludwig O. Daza
After several predictions that turned prophetic, I thought I had finally figured out how a boxing match will unravel (save for those matches that are marred by freak accident and prick fighters and referees), and therefore a bet between and among friends would mean cold hard cash and enrich me a little at their expense – a thought that will haunt me for long while. The Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez bout made a lot of pundits look bad. Lest I be misunderstood, I neither claim nor pretend to be a boxing pundit. I just love boxing and from time to time finds the urge to share my views with boxing aficionados out there who are just as news-thirsty for boxing results (and the story surrounding it) as I am.
I had string of successes in predicting an outcome of a boxing match that my friends stopped betting against me, either it’s for a couple of bottle of beers or its monetary equivalent, until the Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto fight happened. Somebody got wind of my predicting that, when I upped the ante, he took my bet and walked away laughing and richer by thousands.
Analyzing the outcome, I thought I made the mistake of giving much credit to the toughness of Margarito, thinking that his heavy handedness will get Cotto in the later rounds. It was not meant to be. Cotto had a strategy and followed through with discipline and determination. I knew he would box Margarito, but never have I imagined that he we would stick to his plan with dogged determination amid Margarito’s pressure.
Margarito was confident before and during the fight that he could take the best of Cotto’s punches, and which he did with silly grin to boot. That proved to be his undoing. His face may be leather-like but his eyes were fragile. Cotto made it known before the fight that he would target the eyes which just recently healed from the beating administered by Pacquaio, yet Margarito waded through ocean of punches like his eyes were protected by goggles.
I am comforted though by the thought that had the fight continued, the last two rounds could have made a difference for Margarito, but he has to be protected from himself and his toughness. Cotto, who is more skilled, was more motivated to avenge his controversial defeat in the hands of Margarito who in the end only has confidence and toughness to offer.
Motivation won over Confidence. Skills won over toughness.
Then the Brian Viloria vs. Giovanni Segura fight. Fans had a roller coaster ride with Brian Viloria. After knocking out the tough and slick Ulises Solis, Bob Arum announced the championship reign of Viloria for a long haul, but Columbian fighter Carlos Tamara, would have none of it and pummeled an exhausted Viloria in front of a hometown crowd in Pasay City, Philippines to wrest the IBF light flyweight title Viloria won over Solis.
Just as his stamina failed him in the later rounds against Omar Nino Romero, Edgar Sosa, Carlos Tamara, and almost failed him against Julio Cesar Miranda in their flyweight bout, I thought it would fail him again against a pound for pound fighter in Giovanni Segura, whose only loss before the fight was avenged by a knockout against Cesar Canchila, and the only fighter who inflicted a loss on Ivan Calderon whose skills are probably next only to Mayweather. It was not meant to be.
The plodding Segura was virtually ineffective against a much disciplined and now defensive-minded Viloria. The skills of Viloria were made more evident by the one-dimensional style of Segura. The left hooks of Viloria turned Segura into a star-trek movie character. His face looked so grotesque that commentators aired their concern over Segura’s safety. In the seventh round, the referee decided that enough is enough, calling a halt to a fight that could install Viloria as a pound for pound fighter.
Again, Skills trashed toughness.
But then again, I am also comforted by the thought that had it not been for that bizarre lump in his head, Segura could have soldiered on and exposed again the suspect stamina of Brian Viloria.
In sum, I lost twice with Margarito and Viloria. In sum, I overlooked the motivating factor that drives Viloria and Cotto to overcome their demons, and instead relied more on the grit of Margarito and Segura to save my day. It was not meant to be. Miguel Cotto would not be denied the second time against Antonio Margarito, and Viloria would not be shamed in his native land the second time around.
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