On December 3rd, the most famous arena in the world, New York’s Madison Square Garden hosts a rematch between Mexican Antonio Margarito and Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto. This is perhaps the biggest grudge match going in boxing right now, and that is aside from the usual explosive nature of the Mexico versus Boriqua rivalry. The first match has become part of boxing lore! Let’s explore.
The two men first met in July of 2008, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It was a complete war, with Cotto looking strong early and Margarito hanging in and starting to land big uppercuts as the match wore on. By the 11th round, Margarito had totally bludgeoned Cotto’s face and the match was called a TKO victory for Margarito. Both men moved on, Margarito on to bigger and better things and Cotto to assess his career.
Six months later Margarito is in a major superfight with Shane Mosley, one where Mosley pulled out a ninth round TKO after a grueling war. Mosley walked away with the win and a very swollen face. In the reviews around the fight, it was revealed that Margarito had used an illegal substance in his hand wraps, causing them to harden. Mosley’s face hinted at the truth in that, and the Boxing Commission saw fit to suspend Margarito and his trainer for a year.
This planted the seed in Cotto’s mind. Where the illegal hand wraps used in their bout? There are videos on YOUTUBE that show how many uppercuts and power punches Margarito threw with the hand that was potentially wrapped, and there is a good deal of circumstantial evidence. Cotto has wanted to answer that question in the ring ever since. Go watch it and decide for yourself.
This time around, the stars seem to favor Cotto. The fight is in New York, where the Puerto Rican community has embraced Cotto. Margarito will be under heavy scrutiny, and it is a given that Margarito will fight with legal wraps.
This match was originally talked about for the summer, but Margarito could not be medically cleared to fight. This is the most telling sign that December 3rd may be Cotto’s day.
Cotto stayed active and has several good wins and a loss to Manny Pacquiao since he last fought Margarito. Since his suspension, Margarito has a win against journeyman Roberto Garcia and a loss to Pacquiao.
BUt in the loss to Pacquiao, Margarito really took a beating and looked burnt out. Pacquiao broke his eye orbital, and retirement was talked about as it appeared the eye might never be cleared to fight again.
Cotto has had some wars too, but not like the Pacquiao-Margarito war. Cotto is the younger, fresher fighter still, and his hunger for redemption should be enough to take Cotto over the top.
The match is close at the sportsbooks with Cotto currently the favorite at (-195). Maybe time to lay some juice on Cotto for this one.