The Bigger Man Prevails

By Francis Walker
Updated: July 27, 2008

NEW YORK — There’s an old saying in boxing. A good big man will always beat a good little man. That statement couldn’t have truer in wake of Antonio Margarito’s stunning TKO victory against previously unbeaten welterweight champion Miguel Cotto.

That’s correct.

Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs) literally stopped Cotto (32-1, 26 KOs) at 2:05 of the 11th round of their epic bout in front of more than 10,000 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas to capture the WBA welterweight championship on Saturday.

The end came after Margarito broke Cotto following two knockdowns, as a result of constant pressure and nonstop punching. “I trusted my preparation,” Margarito said afterward. “Obviously, Cotto is a very strong fighter. Slowly the tornado rumbled. I told my corner I would wear him down and then knock him out.”

At 5-feet-11, Margarito is five inches taller than Cotto. Margarito, who has fought at 147 much longer than Cotto, is considered a big welterweight and he is strong. While everyone praised Cotto for his relentless combination punching and body attack, Margarito is just as good a body puncher as Cotto.;

Cotto has been badly stunned and knocked down by smaller (and less talented) fighters including Ricardo Torres and DeMarcus Corley. There were also questions about Cotto’s chin throughout his career.;

There were never questions about Margarito’s granite chin. His game plan was simple — throw punches from all angles, move forward, don’t stop throwing punches, and keep moving forward.;

“That was the game plan,” Margarito added, “to come out early, be strong and wear him down. I hit him with body shots, I hit him in the head and then I knocked him out.”

Margarito, a 30 year-old from Tijuana, Mexico, pressed Cotto, 27, from Puerto Rico, from the start behind a relentless body attack. Cotto showed some boxing skills by moving around the ring firing left jabs and three-four punch combinations at times.

Cotto was winning the early rounds, but he never forced Margarito to fight going backwards. Cotto, a strong and talented fighter, simply didn’t have the strength to force Margarito to shift gear.

When that happens, especially when a bigger fighter is against a smaller man, it’s up to the bigger fighter to walk down the smaller fighter and pummel him to pieces.

Like Jermain Taylor in his first fight with Kelly Pavlik last year, Cotto found comfort fighting with his back against the ropes. Cotto boxed very well and was able to get his punches off effectively, but he kept going toward the ropes.

That was Cotto’s only answer for Margarito’s relentless pressure. Create counterpunching opportunities and hope that Margarito would punch himself out.

When it became clear that Margarito would not tire and continue his relentless assault, Cotto didn’t have any other options. There was no plan B. There was no clinching.

Cotto couldn’t stand in the center of the ring and control Margarito with his left jab.

The only answers Cotto had for Margarito was retreat toward the ropes and absorb punishment.

After the sixth round, it was all Margarito. He hurt Cotto with a series of uppercuts in round seven. In round eight, Cotto looked like Oscar De La Hoya when he fought Felix Trinidad.

De La Hoya tried in vein to avoid Trinidad’s pressure by simply staying away. Al least Cotto threw a few right hands that landed, as opposed to blatantly running around the ring.

Cotto couldn’t set his power and timing accordingly because, Margarito didn’t allow him to do so. His punches had nothing behind them. Margarito simply refused to let Cotto get comfortable and put some pop behind his punches.

The end came in the 11th when Margarito, who had bullied Cotto against the ropes throughout the entire fight, dropped Cotto to one knee in a corner. His face was a bloody, swollen mess. When he returned to his feet, Margarito pummeled Cotto from one side of the ring to the next and floored him again into another corner.

Fight over!;

Cotto-De La Hoya ruined

The consensus belief prior to the bout was that Cotto, coming off consecutive victories against former welterweight champions Zab Judah and Sugar Shane Mosley, followed by a 2008 debut with Alfonso Gomez of “The Contender” in April, would beat Margarito on points. Had Cotto won, a big money fight with De La Hoya would have been in place for December.

Margarito’s best chance coming into the fight was to knockout Cotto. There was speculation that if the fight went the distance, Cotto would have been awarded a close decision.

Not only did Margarito stop Cotto and out-box him, but the newly crowned welterweight champ upset De La Hoya’s potential plans for a fight with Cotto.;

The next logical step for Margarito, who like Cotto is promoted by Bob Arum, would be a fight with De La Hoya. There has been heighted talk over the last couple of weeks about a De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquaio fight as well.

Margarito vs. Mayweather

When unbeaten five division world champion Floyd Mayweather comes out of “retirement” there is already a storyline for what would be a highly anticipated fight with Margarito.

Mayweather reportedly turned down $8 million for a fight with Margarito a couple of years ago. Then again, it worked out to Mayweather’s best interest as he made consecutive $20 million purses against De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton in 2007 before appearing in this year’s WrestleMania in a media crazed bout with Big Show.

Margarito was the WBO welterweight champion for five years (2002-07) before losing his 147-pound title to Paul Williams. Since then he defeated a faded Golden Johnson, and KO’d Kermit Cintron (again) to win the IBF welterweight championship.

Margarito is a three time world welterweight champion and has never been stopped. The last two men to have beaten Margarito, Paul Williams and junior middleweight Daniel Santos scored thrilling knockout victories in consecutive months to become world champions once again.

Margarito deserves the opportunity to fight Mayweather once he returns from “retirement.”;

Undercard Results: There were a number of fights that transpired prior to the main event.

Former world champion Cesar Bazan (48-11-1, 31 KOs) was KO’d at 2:46 of the fourth round of a scheduled 10-round bout with Mike Alvarado (22-0, 15 KOs).

Top-10 super bantamweight contender Bernarde Conception (26-1-1, 15 KOs) stopped Adam Carrera (19-4, 8 KOs) in round three at the 2:14 mark.

Benjamin Flores (19-3, 6 KOs) won a technical decision over Vernie Torres (27-12, 15 KOs) following an accidental clash of heads in the eighth round of their featherweight fight. Flores led 79-72 (twice) and 78-73 on the judges’ scorecards.;

Super bantamweight Jesus Rojas (13-0, 10 KOs) won an eight-round unanimous decision over Anyetei Laryea (16-5, 9 KOs). Rojas led 78-73 (twice) and 77-74.

Featherweight prospect Luis Cruz (7-0, 5 KOs) knocked out Jamie Villa (5-5-1) at the end of the first round.

The super featherweight contest between Brian Ramirez (5-1, 3 KOs) and Luis Cervantes (7-3-3, 2 KOs) ended in a no-contest after an accidental head clash in round three.

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