Trying to Predict Cotto vs Margarito

The Miguel Cotto – Antonio Margarito II fight is a title fight, but the whole WBA (Super) Light Middleweight belt issue is lost in the emotion, in the Grudge Match talk, and above everything else, the hate.

I always find it impossible, as an outside watcher, to understand how guys who go into the ring to beat each other up don’t hate each other. They do, I guess, for 12 rounds, and a little bit before it, but usually, when the final gong is heard, most of them act like it was all business. After all, sports is business, and big fights more than anything else, with the money they generate through PPV.

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Not this time. I mean, yes, this is a title fight, with a packed Madison Square Garden and HBO Pay per view sold at around $59.99, with over 500k views already purchased. Still, this one, thanks to the history between the two fighters, is much more than sports, or business. Like Georgia vs Georgia Tech, this is Pure, Old Fashioned Hate.

So who will win? Easier to go with Miguel Cotto, for a number of reasons. He’s also the favorite according to oddsmakers. The simple explanation will be saying the Cotto has been the more active fighters of the two since their 2008 fight, going 4-1, losing only Manny Pacquiao. He beat Michael Jennings, Joshua Clottey, Yuri Foreman and in his last fight, Ricardo Mayorga.

But it goes beyond that. Cotto is a more skilled fighter. He moves around better than Margarito, as he proved in the first six rounds of their 2008 fight? The next five rounds? We’ll get to that. Cotto isn’t the fighter he was before that fight. Moving up the weight classes hasn’t been great with him, but he’s still a very good fighter. Proven these past few years against worthy opponents. Cotto is plain and simple the better boxer.

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Antonio Margarito hasn’t fought in over a year. The hits he took against Manny Pacquiao in Cowboys Stadium on November 2010 are still effecting him. He needed two surgeries after suffering from a broken orbital bone and later on blurry vision in his right eye. It wasn’t easy getting a license for the boxing fight in New York.

As time goes by, it seems more and more likable that Margarito’s impressive second half of his fight with Cotto three years ago was the plaster. The moment it hardened, the blows came stronger and stronger. Margarito only got caught in the Mosely fight, and his trainer took the blame and heat. It’s very likely this happened before. There’s that picture with the red substance after the win over Cotto that Miguel claims is proof. By fighting clean, Margarito has lost to Mosley (beaten by Cotto in 2007), destroyed by Pacquiao (like Cotto) and was unimpressive in a win over an unimpressive Roberto Garcia.

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For Margarito, durability might be the only chance. The guy is a brawler, and he lasted the full 12 rounds against Pacquiao. Barely, nearly ending his boxing career (or worst), but made it through. Cotto did go down on the knee against Margarito and did lose by TKO against Pacquiao. We know Margarito has fighting spirit, and can take punishment. Still, absorbing and absorbing won’t be the case here.

My hunch is that Margarito will be on all out attack mode, feeling that he has some sort of fear factor advantage over Cotto, still lasting from three years ago. True or not, we’ll see. Bad blood, and actual blood, will be seen on the mat. Margarito is the underdog, for obvious reasons. But maybe he’s more than recent history has taught us about him. Unlikely, but still, maybe.