SI.com’s boxing experts predict Saturday’s super welterweight title fight between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Share your prediction in the comments below.
Cotto will (justifiably) be out for blood, but this won’t be a blowout. Though Margarito’s power isn’t what it was in 2008, when his possibly loaded gloves pummelled Cotto into submission, he still has advantages. Specifically, size. At 5-foot-7, Cotto was a small welterweight. At junior middleweight, he’s even smaller. If the 5-foot-11 Margarito is smart, he will use his size advantage as a weapon and work Cotto from the outside.
That’s never been Margarito’s game, however, and his natural aggression and desire to prove that he can beat Cotto straight up will get the best of him. He’ll come right at Cotto, just like he did against Manny Pacquiao, and trade shots. And Cotto, who is two years younger and slightly less worn down, is better prepared for that. Keep in mind that referee Steve Smoger, despite his hands-off reputation, will undoubtedly be mindful of the damage to Cotto’s right eye. If it starts to swell, Smoger could step in and stop the fight. Cotto by 10th-round TKO.
“These guys really don’t like each other” is a cliché that gets used a lot in sports, especially in boxing. Usually it ends up having little to do with how the match plays out. Professionals don’t conduct themselves like kids in a schoolyard. In this case, though, these guys really don’t … well, you know. And it could make a difference.
However, it’s not Cotto, the guy who clearly has a reason to be fighting mad, whom I see letting emotion take him out of his game. For all his aggression throughout his career, he’s always been supremely focused and disciplined. Instead, I think that Margarito, so determined to play the bad guy and surely filled with some serious self-doubt in the wake of the losses to Mosley and Pacquiao, is likely to try too hard to hurt Cotto early and wind up taking himself out of his usual relentless, punishing game plan.
Both these guys are near the ends of their careers, but Cotto has aged better and become a more complete fighter. He was outboxing Margarito brilliantly early in their first bout. I expect him to do so again, piling up points and maybe even rocking Margarito with that superb left hook. Margarito will be dangerous throughout, but if Cotto can keep up the volume punching and the movement and angles, I don’t see Margarito doing enough damage to mount another late charge. A bit of a bully, Margarito took real punishment from Mosley and Pacquiao, and I don’t see him too eager to go through that again — which is what he would need to do to pull off another rally. Cotto by a clear and redemptive decision.
BRYAN ARMEN GRAHAM
Since these two first met 40 months ago, Margarito is winless save for a ho-hum points victory over someone named Roberto Garcia in Aguascalientes, Mexico. He absorbed a stunning beating from a presumed-to-be-faded Shane Mosley and 12 rounds of punishment from Manny Pacquiao in a gruesome exhibition that many believe should have sent him into retirement. Meanwhile, Cotto responded from his own one-sided loss to Pacquiao by hooking up with trainer Emanuel Steward for two fights, winning a title in a third different weight class (at 154 pounds) and defending it with a 12th-round KO of Ricardo Mayorga. Both fighters aren’t what they were that night in the desert, but Cotto is fresher and sharper — even though lengthy volume punchers like Margarito will always be a bad matchup for him. Look for Cotto to box and move his way to an early lead, targeting Margarito’s surgically repaired right eye with that exquisite left hook, before the ring doctor does the right thing and puts a stop to it with what’s left of Margarito’s vision still intact. Cotto by eighth-round TKO.