As some read this column, they may believe I'm speaking from a biased opinion; seeing that I've never hidden the fact that I'm a proud Puerto Rican American who has always been a Miguel Cotto fan. However, those that know me know better. I'll be the first to admit a totally different opinion if I truly feel one. Unfortunately for Antonio Margarito (pictured at left) I can't, because Saturday night he was exposed through Cotto's redemption.
In a rematch of their first fight, which took place three years ago, WBA light middleweight champion Miguel Cotto (37-2, 30 KO's) exacted revenge on Antonio Margarito (38-8, 27 KO's) for more reasons than just a previous loss. That is because unlike their first fight, Cotto and most intelligent boxing fans realize that this fight was actually fought on even ground. By now everyone is familiar with the suspicion that Margarito used illegal hand wraps in their first fight, since he was found to have such in his subsequent fight against Shane Mosely.
Yet, we may have never known about the illegal wraps, which included elements of Plaster of Paris, had it not been for the keen watchful eye of Mosely trainer Nazeem Richardson. Richardson, who was part of Cotto's camp Saturday, is the one that noticed the improprieties during the pre-fight against Mosely and since then Margarito hasn't been the same. It's very simple; the proof lies in the pudding or in this case the plaster.
Before he was ever caught with the wraps, he was the most feared fighter in the world who literally destroyed Cotto over 11 rounds. Since the discovery though, Margarito, or as noted boxing writer Pedro Fernandez likes to refer to him as, 'Margacheato' is only (1-3) in his last four fights. His three losses are against future Hall of Famer Mosely and champions Manny Pacquiao and Cotto, while his lone win is against little known Mexican Roberto Garcia.
On Saturday, as Cotto had predicted, the outcome was much different as can be seen in Margarito's face above. On this night it was Cotto who pummeled Margarito's face and right eye through 10 rounds, forcing the ringside doctor to stop the fight since his eye was completely shut. He did it with slick boxing and constant movement, as he did in their first fight; only this time there was just leather coming back, not leather surrounding a foreign object.
Cotto fought his fight without any concern and Margarito without the wraps, had no answer. The reason was not because Margarito couldn't hurt him; on the contrary. It was because he knew he was the truly superior fighter all along and it showed. I've been saying for months, after the beatdown Margarito took from Manny Pacquiao, that he's been exposed. Without that edge, he's just a good fighter, not a great fighter. Emanuel Steward summed it up best in his post fight comments when he said, "I think Margarito's days of being an elite fighter are done."
Meanwhile Cotto, who many said was not the same fighter after the beatings by Margarito and Pacquiao, looked sharper than ever under new trainer Pedro Diaz. With his future looking bright and redemption finally felt in his heart, he was asked by Max Kellerman what his thoughts were now about Margarito. Cotto's response, "As I said before, I don't think of him; he means nothing to me."
As for the man known to boxing pundits as 'The Tijuana Tornado', these days he's looking more like a Baja, California breeze. The relentless straight forward style he possesses that made him the man in boxing no one wanted to face is no longer a threat to the top tier fighters of the sport without the added advantage inside his gloves. He's been exposed through redemption and with serious injury twice now to that right eye, it remains to be seen (no pun intended) if he will continue to fight; let alone be able to.