Get ready for an absolute war Saturday night as Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto lace up the gloves for a second time. These two men do not like each other, to say the least. It is time for all the talk to end and a series of hooks, straights and uppercuts to take its place.
Regardless of the possibly illegal wraps of Margarito, we were given the privilege of an epic bout the first time these two stepped in the ring. So often we see the taller fighter as the more skilled combatant, while the smaller man plays the role of the powerful brawler. With these two, the script is flipped and that is what makes this fight so thrilling.
Margarito has a six-inch reach advantage, while Cotto is quicker and more conventional. Cotto dominated the early rounds by peppering Margarito with a series of combinations, while his footwork kept him out of danger. In spite of the flash Cotto's best punches could not hurt Margarito as he continued to stalk his prey and bide is time.
In the middle rounds, Cotto was tiring and no longer able to dodge Margarito's punches. By the end of the fight, Margarito was dominating his opponent while Cotto was just trying to hold on until the end of the 12th round. Even if had gone to a decision, Margarito had taken the lead on two of the three cards, with the third scored even.
With or without the loaded wraps, we will see the same fight. Except now there is blood in the water and each man's legacy depends on beating the other. In a sense, the winner of this bout actually wins two. The record books will stay the same, but this is validation for the fans and the fighters. It will prove who was the true winner of their first match, which each man believes he was the legitimate victor.
Miguel Cotto will go to his grave knowing Antonio Margarito's hands were loaded. Margarito will die knowing he was clean. And now we get to see them do it again. The pressure of the stalking Margarito combined with everything these fighters stand to gain is why this will be the fight of the year.
On the whole, the fans got screwed in 2011. Two of the biggest fights, Mayweather-Ortiz and Hopkins-Dawson were not fights at all. The year was not a complete waste in spite of those travesties, as we still got some great fights out of it. Hopkins-Pascal, Ortiz-Berto and of course Pacquiao-Marquez III stand out as the leading candidates for fight of the year. I expect this late contender to beat them all.
Going into this bout we know one thing: Margarito is willing to die in the ring, while Cotto is fighting for his family. It sounds cliche, but in a fight this close, the man who is willing to die has the advantage, which is all Margarito will need. Margarito wins via split decision.