PunchStat Report: Cotto KO 9 Margarito

By CompuBox

Cotto, in retreat most of the fight, landed 51% of his power shots.  Cotto had a 148-131 edge in power shots landed, closing the already damaged right eye of Margarito.

In a Bloody Storybook Tale, Cotto Gets His Happy Ending

By Hamilton Nolan

Photo by Will Hart

After all of the good guy, bad guy buildup, the "wronged man seeking redemption" storyline that had been carefully cultivated for months played out just perfectly tonight, as Miguel Cotto (37-2) avenged his 2008 loss to Antonio Margarito (38-8) with a TKO victory after nine dominating rounds.

CompuBox Analysis: Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito

By CompuBox

For world-class boxers  three-and-a-half years can be a lifetime, and such has been the case for Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. On July 26, 2008, Cotto lost his WBA welterweight title, his perfect record and several portions of his prime while Margarito gained a belt, a signature victory and hero status, especially among Mexicans and hard-core fans who relish an up-by-the-bootstraps success story.

The intervening years have seen Cotto add two belts -- he'll be defending the WBA junior middleweight title Saturday -- while the "Tijuana Tornado" not only lost two of his last three fights but also his reputation and boxing license when tainted hand wraps were discovered minutes before he fought Shane Mosley. Cotto, and many others, believe Margarito's hands were loaded during their fight, thus creating the rationale for this rematch.

Can Margarito, a 9-5 ‘dog in the rematch, beat Cotto "clean," or will "Junito" set the record straight? Their CompuBox track records offer these hints:

> Read more CompuBox analysis of Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito on HBO.com

In the Final Presser, Margarito Plays the Villain

By Michael Gluckstadt

Photo Credit: Chris Farina"Here comes the criminal."

It was the first phrase out of Antonio Margarito’s mouth when he stepped up to the microphone at the Theater at Madison Square Garden during the final press conference before his fight against Miguel Cotto this Saturday. Margarito seems to delight in playing the heel, smiling mischievously as he wondered aloud, "They say I'm not a good person. That I'm not a gentleman. I don't know why they say that."

Margarito, along with everyone else who follows the sport, knows exactly why Cotto has accused him of being dirty. "If you look up criminal in the dictionary," Cotto said to Margarito in their native Spanish, "It's someone who uses a weapon." Ever since plaster was discovered in Margarito's gloves before his fight against Shane Mosley, Cotto has maintained that Margarito used the loaded gloves against him—a boxing crime that has yielded jail time in the past.

Margarito, mirroring his fighting style, wasn't content just defending himself at the podium. He took the moment to land a handful of verbal blows. "I don't know why he calls me a criminal," he said again. "I'm not a man who beats up on his own family"—a reference to a reported brawl between Cotto and his uncle and then-trainer Evangelista Cotto in 2009. Margarito continued his assault, "He says he's not going to have mercy on my eye? He can hit my eye as many times as he wants. He hits like a little girl. A super flyweight hits harder."

The rivals will have their moment to definitively show who is the better fighter, if not the better man, this Saturday night, in front of what's likely to be a sell-out crowd at Madison Square Garden. It's a venue that, according to promoter Bob Arum, Cotto has attracted more fans to than any other boxer in its history. Arum was visibly relieved to have the fight in New York with the recently-bestowed blessing of the New York State Athletic Commission, so much so that he half-jokingly suggested opening the presser with a recitation of the "shehecheyanu," a Jewish blessing of thanks. Still, he wasn't willing to push his luck too far, opting against having the fighters stand in the traditional "face off" pose, probably out of fear that they might start the brawl right there on the spot.

Press conference fights aren't unheard of in boxing, and have on occasion been known to build interest in an otherwise boring event. But this fight needs no added punch. Better to let the tensions simmer for a few more days, until Saturday night, when all questions will finally be answered in the ring.

On Cotto, Margarito and Private Hate in Public Arenas

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credits: Hoganphotos.com, Will HartOn most occasions, a professional prizefight is not a resolution to a personal dispute; the confrontation is professional, fueled not by hatred but the desire for greatness, titles and money.

Chris Byrd, the former heavyweight belt-holder, once expressed to me that his approach to boxing was that, on one level, it was little different from tennis. When they were on court, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi wanted only to annihilate each other, he explained. But once the match was over, there was no reason for them not to be friends. Similarly, he offered, boxing was not violence but sport, albeit with gloved fists rather than racket and ball.

Occasionally, however, the personal intrudes on the professional, and when it does, it only whets our appetites even more. Emile Griffith may have entered the ring in 1962 consumed with rage over an epithet directed at him by Benny ‘Kid’ Paret, a rage that would ultimately have tragic consequences. More recently, the epic three-fight series between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera was fueled by genuine mutual hatred, and Fernando Vargas never even attempted to disguise his loathing of Oscar De La Hoya.

All of those, however, pale in comparison to the antipathy between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.

There are those who question whether this Saturday’s contest should be taking place, whether Margarito should ever have been allowed back into the ring after the discovery of tampered wraps on his hands prior to his January 2009 bout with Shane Mosley; and whether, even if accepting that he has served a sentence of sorts for that most despised of boxing sins, he should be licensed to fight after surgery to his eye and orbital bone following the brutal pounding he suffered last year at the fists of Manny Pacquiao.

Were anyone entitled to object on the first count, it would be Cotto, who is now convinced that his brutal 2008 stoppage loss to Margarito was the result of the Mexican carrying plaster in his gloves. For more than two years, the man from Caguas seemed firm in his stance that he would do nothing – given his growing belief that he had been grievously wronged and as a consequence nearly severely harmed by Margarito’s actions that night – to help his foe earn another cent in the ring. But that conviction has wavered in the face of a $5 million payday and an apparent sense that the damage to Margarito’s eye (which required removal of a cataract and insertion of an artificial lens, and that gave the New York State Athletic commission pause before relenting and agreeing to sanction the fight) gives him a golden opportunity at redemption and revenge.

“My dog is more of a person than him,” he says calmly. “I don’t feel any respect for him. I’m going to take advantage of his eye, like he took advantage of the plaster.”

“F*** Cotto,” spits Margarito in return. “If he thinks I had plaster, it will hurt like I was using a plaster.”
In the real world, it’s the kind of talk that prompts adults to seek a way to calm things down before somebody gets hurt. But this is boxing, and it’s too late for that. Hurt – perhaps serious hurt – is a given. And because this is boxing, on Saturday night, in front of a packed crowd in New York and an eager audience around the world, two men will fight a very personal and very real battle on a very public stage.

Cotto-Margarito: Under the Lights

See a breakdown of lessons learned from the first Cotto-Margarito fight in a pause-and-play video infographic:

Undercard Overview: Intense Brawling Guaranteed

By Eric Raskin

It was sportswriter Pierce Egan who first dubbed boxing “the sweet science” in the early 1800s. Two hundred years later, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, and their undercard cohorts are poised to present an action-packed night of pugilism with nothing sweet and nothing scientific about it. Some fans appreciate a brilliant technical display; every fan loves a brutality-filled brawl. The December 3 pay-per-view card at Madison Square Garden features no less than four fights that just might fit that latter description. Here’s a closer look at who’s leading up to the Cotto-Margarito grudge match:

Brandon Rios (28-0-1, 21 KOs) vs. John Murray (31-1, 18 KOs), 12 Rounds, Lightweights

Photo Credit: Will HartThere isn’t a more polarizing young fighter in the game right now than the 25-year-old Rios. His fighting style is highly offensive, and the things that come out of his mouth are, well, highly offensive. He’s emerged in the past year or so as true must-see TV, whether you’re rooting for him or against him. It almost doesn’t matter who “Bam Bam’s” opponent is—but for what it’s worth in this case, he’s taking on a respected former British and European regional champ in the 26-year-old Murray.

Murray will be highly motivated, as his lone defeat came in his most recent fight, an eighth-round TKO against Kevin Mitchell. He needs to get back on the winning track, and he’ll have the backing of hundreds of British fans flying across the Atlantic to pack the Garden. Still, Rios is the big betting favorite here. He’s riding high off of two thrilling wins so far in 2011, a come-from-behind knockout of Miguel Acosta to claim his first title and a three-round decimation of Urbano Antillon in his first defense. Margarito’s foul-mouthed stablemate is expected to secure successful defense number two on Saturday night, and however long the fight with Murray lasts, it won’t be boring.

Pawel Wolak (29-1-1, 19 KOs) vs. Delvin Rodriguez (25-5-3, 14 KOs), 10 Rounds, Junior Middleweights

This fight requires no selling—at least not via words. Just sit someone down in front of the 10 glorious rounds of warfare that Rodriguez and Wolak gave us at New York’s Roseland Ballroom in July, and they’ll be instantly sold. In that bout, Wolak battled through a hideously swollen eye to gut out a controversial draw, the fourth time in Rodriguez’s hard-luck career that the Connecticut veteran was left flummoxed by the judges.

Wolak is 30, Rodriguez is 31, and they’re each at a crucial juncture in their careers. Both are peaking in popularity on the heels of their July brawl, but only one can make the leap to that next level after this fight. Unless, that is, they give us another Fight of the Year candidate. Then, somewhat like Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward nearly a decade ago, they can rise to new heights together.

Mike Jones (25-0, 19 KOs) vs. Sebastian Lujan (38-5-2, 24 KOs), 12 Rounds, Welterweights

Photo Credit: Will HartIs Jones a future opponent for Manny Pacquiao? For Andre Berto? For the Cotto-Margarito winner? For the past year or so, the unbeaten Philadelphia welterweight’s name has been tossed around in that elite company, but he has to get by merciless Argentine Lujan before any of those breakout fights can come into focus.

Lujan is best known as the poor guy who nearly got his ear literally punched off his head by Margarito back in ’05. The 31-year-old tough guy is now riding a 12-fight winning streak and represents arguably the stiffest test Jones has ever faced. At 28, Jones has emerged as a legitimate top-10 contender in the star-packed welterweight division. With his long jab and all-around skills, Jones appears to have the tools to pass this test. But we won’t go so far as to predict that he’ll box Lujan’s ears off.