Williams, Cotto, And Margarito: Boxing’s Future Is Now

By Francis Walker
Updated: December 9, 2006

NEW YORK — Subtract Floyd Mayweather, Ricky Hatton, Zab Judah, and even Arturo Gatti away from the welterweight division and who’s left?

Undefeated prospect Paul Williams (32-0, 24 KOs), unbeaten two-division champion Miguel Cotto (28-0, 23 KOs), and rugged WBO 147-pound champion Antonio Margarito (34-4, 24 KOs ).

Williams, Cotto, and Margarito are three of the strongest fighters between 140-147 pounds. Eventually, these fighters will grow into the junior welterweight limit of 154 pounds.

Oscar De La Hoya may no longer be fighting by then, but hopefully Williams, Cotto, and Margarito would have had a significant fight (or two) against each other as welterweights.

Williams is an undefeated 25-year-old from Augusta , GA. He has knockout power in both hands and is a southpaw (left-handed) fighter. Williams is extremely tall for a welterweight (6’ 1”) and has an 81-inch reach.

His size advantages are similar to Thomas Hearns was when he dominated the welterweight division along with Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran in the 1980s.

Williams’ amateur experience consists of 20-25 fights before turning professional in 2000 at age 19. Williams’ most significant fight as a professional occurred in August 2006.

Williams knocked out former junior welterweight champion Sharmba Mitchell in four (one-sided) rounds. Williams throws a lot of punches and uses his reach, height, and strength pretty well. Williams has good timing and appears to be very dominant.

Williams, however, is not as battle-tested as Cotto or even Margarito. Williams is definitely a front-runner in the welterweight class.

Cotto, 26, Caguas , Puerto Rico , has been billed as the next Felix Trinidad. Similar to Trinidad , Cotto has an appetite for knockouts. His career knockout percentage is currently 82%. Cotto has power in both hands and is not afraid to exchange punches with his opponents inside.

Cotto has spent the last two years as an beaten, but battle-tested WBO 140-pound champion. His record was an impressive 7-0, 6 KOs in title fights. Cotto’s biggest victories have come against recognizable prospects that include: Kelson Pinto (TKO 6), DeMarcus Corley (TKO 5), Ricardo Torres (KO 7) Gianluca Branco (TKO 8), and Paul Malignaggi (W 12). Cotto is an exciting fighter with a crowd pleasing style and is highly regarded as the future of boxing.

Margarito, 28, Tijuana , Mexico , may have four professional losses, but has lost only two fights in the last 10 years. Margarito has also won two WBO championships in the junior welterweight and welterweight divisions. Margarito has accumulated a record of 8-1-1, 6 KOs in WBO world title fights.

Margarito has fought long and hard since turning professional in 1994, two years after De La Hoya won a gold medal for the U.S. at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. With “The Golden Boy’s Career” winding down, Margarito is still searching for a big fight.

De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas, and Shane Mosley were the big names that were thrown at Margarito fort he last five years. Not one fighter has said yes.

Margarito’s most recognizable wins the last two years have come against undefeated prospects Hercules Kyvelos (TKO 2) and Kermit Cintron (TKO 5).

Margarito has power in both hands. Margarito is a very strong and durable fighter. He can box well and has an excellent chin. As a result, Margarito but does not move his head much and can be hit on his chin clean. That could be dangerous when he faces guys like Cotto and Williams.

Both Cotto and Margarito shared a Showtime Championship Boxing twin bill at the Convention Center in Atlantic City , NJ on Saturday, December 2. Cotto’s relentless and brutal attack on previously unbeaten Carlos Quintana (23-1) forced him quit on his stool before the start of the sixth round to win the vacant WBA welterweight title. Meanwhile, Margarito looked vulnerable in his WBO welterweight title defense against Joshua Clottey (30-2).

Cotto continued to show the dominance that he has displayed throughout his career thus far. Margarito won a convincing 12-round unanimous decision, but it was more difficult than expected.

Margarito showed some boxing skills and strong counterpunching ability against a gamed Clottey, but Margarito was hit too often by challenger. Clottey was able to land two-three punch combinations and caught Margarito cleanly on his chin early in the contest. If Margarito had fought either Cotto, Williams, or even a Mayweather or De La Hoya, Margarito would have been stopped.

Margarito can also box and he did prove that he was a better boxer than Clottey. The three at ringside scored the fight 116-112 (twice) and an out of range 118-109 for Margarito.

Margarito vs. Williams A Possibility in 2007

Williams is the undefeated mandatory challenger for the WBO welterweight championship at 147 pounds. Margarito is the champion. Unless Williams, the No. 1-contender, steps aside or the title is vacated, expect a Margarito-Williams clash in 2007. Margarito has been turned down by some of the biggest names in the sport. Mayweather, De La Hoya, and Mosley all said no to Margarito.

Williams has had only one significant fight, but he is very fun and exciting to watch. Similar to Margarito, Williams is the young new guy on the block and it appears that no one wants to fight him. In fact, it’s doubtful that De La Hoya, Mosley, Mayweather, or Winky Wright would consider fighting Williams, Margarito, or Cotto.

De La Hoya is a successful boxing promoter and his partners include Wright, Mosley, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Bernard Hopkins. De La Hoya an company are looking for big-money fights. In fact, De La Hoya has agreed to fight Mayweather in perhaps the biggest junior middleweight fight in history in May 2007.

Fighting young and hungry guys like Williams, Cotto, and Margarito is like taking a step backwards for De La Hoya, Mayweather, or Wright. While Cotto and Margarito were successful in Atlantic City last Saturday, Wright enjoyed a decisive 12-round unanimous decision in his native Tampa, Florida against former welterweight champion Ike Quartey.

Either way, Williams, Margarito, and Cotto each deserves a big fight. They should fight each other.