Miguel Cotto will defend his championship belt against a familiar foe tonight. Cotto’s WBA junior middleweight title is on the line against Antonio Margarito, who defeated Cotto by TKO in 2008.
Despite the title implications, though, the fight won’t be held at the full junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds. Instead, after much negotiation, the fighters agreed on a catch weight of 153 pounds, with Margarito weighing in at 152.5 and Cotto at 152.25.
Even this slight reduction in weight has to be considered a victory for Cotto, who is already the less powerful puncher in this bout. By forcing Margarito to drop even a little bit of weight, Cotto increases his chances of withstanding the few extra punches that might have done more damage with extra muscle behind them.
While Margarito is the more dangerous brawler, Cotto is the more skilled boxer. In their first fight, Cotto controlled the early rounds before Margarito’s superior strength eventually wore him down.
Of course, Cotto would argue that Margarito’s punching power in their 2008 meeting came from illegal hand wraps—a violation Margarito was, in fact, caught committing against Shane Mosley six months after defeating Cotto. There’s little danger of a similar offense going unobserved tonight, so if Cotto’s never-proven accusations have merit, he’ll be in even better shape in the rematch.
Margarito has an exceptional ability to take a punch, so it’s hard to see Cotto knocking him out. As long as he avoids being knocked out himself, his own technical superiority should be enough to convince the judges to give him the victory by decision.