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Thread: Cotto vs. Margarito Press

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    Cotto vs. Margarito Press

    Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry packs a real punch

    Miguel Maldonado / For The Times
    Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico will take his colors and pride into the ring when he battles Mexico's Antonio Margarito for the world welterweight crown on July 26.
    When boxers from the Latin American lands face each other, representing their homeland well is paramount.

    By Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Carlos Palomino knew something was wrong the minute he saw the boxing ring laid out in San Juan's main baseball stadium beneath a blazing Caribbean sun.

    "The ring's in the middle of the field with a tarp over it," he remembers of his welterweight title fight against Puerto Rico's Wilfredo Benitez. "Half the ring's in the shade, half the ring's in the sun. He's in the shade, I'm in the sun."

    That wasn't the worst of it. In the week leading up the bout, promoters threw open the doors to Palomino's San Juan gym, allowing Puerto Rican fans to swarm the Mexican-born boxer and disrupt his workouts. And then there were the locker rooms.

    "The dressing-room situation was criminal as far as I'm concerned," Palomino said. "I was sitting there soaking wet, sweating from the humidity. No fan, nothing."

    Next door, he learned after the fight, Benitez prepared in air-conditioned comfort before going out and taking the world championship in a split decision Palomino still insists, nearly 30 years later, he really won.

    But while that bout marked the beginning of the end of Palomino's career -- he fought just six more times, losing twice and retiring twice -- it also helped fuel one of the most passionate rivalries in sports. And it's a rivalry that will be renewed later this month in Las Vegas when Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto puts his world welterweight crown and unbeaten record on the line against Tijuana's hard-punching Antonio Margarito.

    Depending on who's doing the counting, there have been nearly five dozen world title fights between boxers from Mexico and Puerto Rico and most have been classic brawls.

    "In other countries people go crazy to see a soccer game between Spain and Italy, Italy and England," said boxing writer Gerardo Fernandez of the Puerto Rican daily Primera Hora. "Well, it's the same ambience for a boxing match between Mexico and Puerto Rico."

    It's not hard to figure out why. They are Latin American lands with similar backgrounds and cultures. And in both lands, boxing is revered.

    "They're two countries in which boxing is the national sport," said Jose Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council. "It's the sport that's in their hearts. There's a special rivalry over which Latin country has the best boxers."

    Adds Francisco Valcarcel, president of the competing World Boxing Organization: "When you have Puerto Ricans and Mexicans, for sure that will be a war. You are fighting for you, your country and your heritage and the history."

    The rivalry even extends to the sport's sanctioning bodies since Sulaiman's Mexico City-based WBC recognizes three Mexicans and no Puerto Ricans among its 16 world champions while Valcarcel's San Juan-based WBO lists two Puerto Ricans and one Mexican among its 17 titlists.

    But there's little disagreement that the fight that got the rivalry started was the 1978 super-bantamweight title bout between Puerto Rico's Wilfredo Gomez and Mexico's Carlos Zarate, who were a combined 75-0-1 when they faced off in San Juan.

    "I was sick. I didn't want to fight," Zarate remembers. "I tried to get out of it, but I was told I'd have to pay three times more than my purse not to fight."

    The brutal fight was over soon enough, though, with Gomez knocking him out in five rounds -- after repeatedly punching Zarate while he was down.

    The rivalry grew more heated three years later when the still-unbeaten Gomez met featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez. And that was five months before they even stepped into the ring.

    According to Valcarcel, during negotiations for the bout Gomez grabbed a pair of scissors off the table and charged Sanchez, who soon grew tired of the Puerto Rican's trash talking.

    "He told me 'I'm not going to knock him out. I'm going to punish him,' " said Palomino, who served as an interpreter for Sanchez. "He had him out in the second round and he let him [go]. Then he just started pounding and pounding him."

    And Gomez's fights didn't always end in the ring -- at least not as far as his fans were concerned. Valcarcel was leaving the arena after one bout when he came across the mayor of Guaynabo, one of Puerto Rico's most prominent cities, trading punches with a Mexican fan in the parking lot.

    "The rivalry, I think it's more intense between the fans. There's more fights in the stands than there is sometimes in the ring," Palomino said. "And that's what fuels it, the fans. It's more than just a bout. It's like the fourth 'Rocky' movie. It's for the country."

    Yet when Sanchez died in a traffic accident a year later a solemn Gomez, who would knock out Mexican Roberto Rubaldino five days later, left his training camp to fly to Mexico where he laid flowers at Sanchez's grave site.

    "In the ring it's another thing. We have to fight. I've got to kill him," said Puerto Rican featherweight Mario Santiago, who earned a draw in his first title fight last month against Mexican American Steven Luevano. "But after the fight or before the fight, I don't have anything personal with any Mexican."

    It's personal for the fans, though. Which is why the rivalry continues to thrive, said Bob Arum, who is promoting the July 26 Cotto-Margarito bout.

    "What people forget about boxing is that it's a sport like other sports," he said. "In order to catch the attention, people have to care, they have to have a rooting interest. That's why the old fights, where they had Jews against Italians in New York, were well-attended and the fans cared. They identified with one or the other of the fighters.

    "Now when you have a Mexican and a Puerto Rican, Mexican fans and Puerto Rican fans identify with that fight because it's a natural rivalry. It's like the Dodgers playing the Giants."

    Only the Dodgers and Giants represent cities. Cotto and Margarito will be representing something far larger.

    That's why Julio Cesar Chavez said he feared Mexico would never forgive him if he lost his title fight with Puerto Rico's Hector Camacho. And that pressure hasn't faded over time.

    "I want to give this title to Mexico," Margarito said. "Because of the rivalry you try harder to win, you try harder to beat Puerto Rico."

    kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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    Cotto-Margarito: Skip Around "The Ring?"

    By Cliff Rold

    Loyal readers know it’s true.

    For all of Boxing’s troubles, Welterweight has remained the center that holds. It’s been a vibrant, dependable cog in the game for most of their life…their father’s life…even their grandfather’s life. Few divisions have had its remarkable array of quality prizefighters, quality matches and, ultimately, quality fights.

    It has also been one of the best places to look for World Champions who really are.

    The amount of time that the outright Welterweight championship has ever been vacant is minimal and less. When it was vacated on rare occasions by greats like Tommy Ryan, Sugar Ray Robinson, Carmen Basilio, and Emile Griffith, the void was filled in short order. Typically, the business of ‘…and new…’ was done within months.

    It took a little longer to fill, just over three years, when Sugar Ray Leonard’s detached retina fueled a vacancy in 1982. Donald Curry ended any argument about claims to the throne in December 1985, stopping Milton McCrory in a two round unification showdown. Consistency has reigned since. From Curry, a straight line can be drawn straight through to Oscar De La Hoya’s controversial twelve round loss to Felix Trinidad. The line picked up for most less than a year later when Shane Mosley un-controversially defeated Oscar himself.

    That line just died a little over a month ago with the ‘retirement’ of Floyd Mayweather Jr.

    In true Welterweight championship tradition, we may have a fight on tap right away that closes the circle once again. This Saturday night, at well worth its HBO Pay-Per-View price tag, WBA titlist and universally recognized division leader Miguel Cotto (32-0, 26 KO) faces off with the decade’s steadiest presence near the top of the class, Antonio Margarito (36-5, 26 KO).

    That it is almost pre-ordained to be a war, a Fight of the Year candidate, the next chapter in the legendary saga of Mexico versus Puerto Rico…and so on, you’ve heard it…all goes without saying.

    The question of concern here is a simpler one: Is the winner of Cotto-Margarito the new undisputable Welterweight champion of the World?

    Ring Magazine will say no. There are some fans, and some notable pundits, who might cite that as good enough for them. The rules Ring has given themselves in closing vacancies, rules they have been consistent with since they began awarding belts again, don’t allow for Cotto-Margarito to be recognized as being for their title.

    As their rules note: “Championship vacancies can be filled by winning a box-off between The Ring’s number-one and number-two contenders, or, in certain instances, a box-off between our number-one and number-three contenders.” Margarito is currently rated fourth, disqualifying his chances.

    That’s one, and maybe even two, spots too low…especially if you use Ring’s ratings, with cover dates for those published ratings supplied in parenthesis, as a sign post. In front of Margarito at #2 is long former World Welterweight champion Shane Mosley; at #3 Paul Williams, notable for having edged past Margarito last August. For those who would argue Williams as rightly one spot ahead based on the head to head outcome, so be it.

    Mosley should be behind both.

    This is not a knock on Mosley. Since losing the Welterweight championship to Vernon Forrest in early 2002, Mosley’s record at Welterweight has been 3-2 with the losses coming by wide margin at the hands of Viper in their 2002 rematch and to Cotto in a competitive fight last November. He spent all of 2003-04, and all of 06, at 154 lbs., winning and losing the World Jr. Middleweight championship from Oscar De La Hoya and to Winky Wright.

    Of the Welterweight fights he’s had since returning to the division in 2005, he won the first three beginning with a March 2005 win over then Ring #9 David Estrada (v. iv, 2005 cover date) and then bested undefeated but unrated Jose Luis Cruz in September of 2005. When he returned again to 147 lbs. in February 2007 after taking care of a rated but run down Fernando Vargas twice one up the scale, it was for a decisive win over #5 Luis Collazo (May 2007). It’s not a bad body of work in the division.

    It’s just not the body of work Margarito has assembled.

    Read the Rest at: http://maxboxing.com/Cliff/Rold0723m08.asp

  3. #3
    tedsares
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    Re: Cotto-Margarito: Skip Around "The Ring?"

    Fine piece. Welters have been a strong center. I also like a linear of Ali-SRL-Oscar-PBF as the right people for the right time. What do you think?

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    Re: Cotto-Margarito: Skip Around "The Ring?"

    I can agree with that though Tyson belongs in that company at least for his early career.

  5. #5
    tedsares
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    Re: Cotto-Margarito: Skip Around "The Ring?"

    Yes, he does. I must admit that, albeit reluctantly.

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    Re: Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry packs a real punch

    Miguel Cotto is a world champion with two sides

    Miguel Maldonado / For The Times
    Miguel Cotto, the unbeaten WBA welterweight champion from Puerto Rico, is known for his hard punching and serious demeanor in the ring. "But he's completely the opposite when he's out of the ring," says his trainer, Phil Landman. "Always joking, laughing, having a good time."
    Unbeaten welterweight from Puerto Rico, who'll defend his WBA title Saturday, is all business in the ring, but within his tight inner circle he's a fun-loving practical jokester.

    By Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

    CAGUAS, Puerto Rico -- The sun is still fighting to rise over the lush green hills of Puerto Rico's fertile midsection as five men meet in a park near the city center for their regular morning workout.

    Less than a block into the run, when an SUV pulls up behind the group and honks, the man at the front of the pack responds by pulling down the back of his sweat pants and mooning the driver.

    Miguel Cotto, arguably the island's hottest athlete, breaks into a smile before he's even broken a sweat. Turns out he's just flashed his own mother.

    Yet that's a side of Cotto few outside a tight circle of friends ever get to see. Most of the world knows the undefeated, two-time world champion for his scowl and his punishing punches in the boxing ring. Cotto will defend his World Boxing Assn. welterweight title Saturday in Las Vegas against Antonio Margarito.

    Outside the ring, however, Cotto is a tireless practical joker who isn't afraid to let down his guard -- and his sweat pants -- once in a while. "When he's boxing, people say he's serious and he's focused and he doesn't smile," says his trainer Phil Landman. "But he's completely the opposite when he's out of the ring. Always joking, laughing, having a good time."

    "He was always a bit cheeky, like all kids," Jose "Joey" Gomez, one of Cotto's cornermen and a friend since early childhood, says in Spanish. "He jokes in a way that leaves you stunned. He's going to try to make you happy. [But] he's not the type of person who makes friends easily and trusts everyone."

    The public Miguel Cotto, the one with the rock-star following in his native Puerto Rico, will greet a raucous crowd of 1,500 packed into a shopping mall with little more than a shy wave. But the private Miguel Cotto has proven so loyal that when he shaved his head at the start of training camp for Saturday's fight, every one of his friends -- as well as his son -- insisted on having their heads shaved as well.

    "He's totally different with us," Gomez says. "He's the type of person that if you were with him from the beginning, he's not going to leave you behind. He's going to take you by the hand and take you with him."

    Perhaps one reason Cotto seems so uncomfortable in the limelight is the fact he never set out to be there in the first place. When he first stepped into the gym as a pudgy 156-pound 10-year-old he was hoping boxing might save his life, not take it over.

    "At that time we weren't thinking of this. It was simply because he had to lose weight. He was fat," says Evangelista Cotto, Miguel's uncle and the only coach he's ever had.

    In nine months Cotto lost more than 50 pounds, earning a chance to leave the speed bag and jump rope for a real fight in the ring. By 16 he was on the Puerto Rican national team, following in the footsteps of his older brother Jose, who boxed in the 1996 Olympics. "Year after year I took the boxing more seriously," Cotto says.

    And when he came back from the 1998 Central American and Caribbean Games in Venezuela with a silver medal, he says, "I decided I want to be a boxer for the rest of my life."

    But less than seven months after his pro debut, Cotto's career -- and his life -- nearly came to an end when he fell asleep while driving to a predawn workout, crashing into a concrete wall and breaking his right arm and shoulder in four places.

    "After 30 days he was running again," his father remembers.

    And after five months he was boxing again, flattening Joshua Smith two rounds into his return to the ring.

    The accident, Cotto says, changed him, making him "more focused on boxing." As a result, he's scored knockouts in 21 of his 25 fights since beating Smith, raising his record to 32-0 with 26 KOs.

    "When you think this thing never can happen to you and it happens, you put in more effort and you stay more focused on your work."

    And you find a friend to drive you to workouts, he adds with a smile.

    Yet it hasn't all been smooth sailing.

    For the last 14 months there's been a bitter, if quiet, feud between the boxer and his uncle/coach, apparently dating to his older brother's 2007 lightweight title bout in Puerto Rico. With Jose Cotto fighting poorly, Evangelista confronted him in a screaming, water-throwing rage after the eighth round. When the argument continued after the next round Miguel left his ringside seat to try to make peace, but Evangelista eventually stormed off.

    Although Miguel Cotto continues to train in Evangelista's gym -- an airless, windowless, zinc-roofed bunker tucked amid rows of low-slung concrete houses in a working-class neighborhood -- the two don't speak much and rarely even acknowledge one another.

    "Evangelista's role is circumspect. And it has been for years," says Bob Arum, the promoter for both Cotto and Margarito. But while there's little doubt Cotto would like to break away from his uncle, the boxer's father has insisted the family will stay together until the end, no matter how strained things become.

    "It's like every family," the elder Miguel Cotto says. "There's some friction, there's some discussions. That's part of what life teaches. But Evangelista is in charge of Miguel's training."

    And the father has given his son several reasons beyond simple familial respect to heed his wishes. Millions of reasons, in fact.

    Since becoming a pro Miguel Cotto has turned his prize money over to his father, who has invested it wisely, buying eight gas stations, an apartment building, commercial offices and 12 villas in tony Palmas del Mar, a resort in southeastern Puerto Rico.

    Cotto also backs fights and fighters through his own promotion company, is the pitchman in Puerto Rico for everything from pickup trucks to pick-me-up pills and is pioneering his own line of sports apparel through a partnership with Ecko.

    "Boxing is not forever," the 27-year-old says. "One day I have to stop [and] I have on my side other things to continue to raise my family. If I announced my retirement today, me and my family are going to live good."

    That announcement, say many in the Cotto camp, is at least two years off. Among the things the boxer wants to do before he quits is unify the world welterweight title. Plus if he gets by Margarito there's talk of a matchup with Oscar De La Hoya, a fight that would almost certainly earn Cotto more than in any previous bout.

    And while that would make a rich man even richer, it wouldn't change him.

    "He's very humble. You would never think he is what he is," says Landman, the boxer's South African-born trainer. "Just hanging out, he's normal. It's like hanging out with any of your other mates."

    kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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    Re: Cotto vs. Margarito Press

    Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito: pieces on De La Hoya's chessboard
    Oscar De La Hoya wants another bout, and tonight's welterweight title match in Las Vegas will help him narrow his options.
    Bill Dwyre
    LATimes

    All eyes in the boxing world will be focused tonight on Cotto versus Margarito at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

    Well, except those eyes belonging to promoters Bob Arum and Richard Schaefer. They may be sneaking a peak or two into the future.

    Squaring offThat's because when Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto fights Mexican Antonio Margarito in a welterweight title match that has people talking about a fight of the year before anybody throws the first punch, the result is closely connected to something even bigger.

    That would be the sport's next mega-fight. Boxing tries to label its better matchups with this sort of hyperbole. This time, the label would be justified.

    This is what is going on:

    Oscar De La Hoya, 35, wants to fight one more time. Despite losing three of his last six fights and correctly toying with retirement for several years now, he remains the box-office bonanza for his sport. If he fights, it is a huge deal. If he fights somebody really good, they start throwing around the word "mega."

    Add to that all the farewell schmaltz that can be trotted out, and boxing has a real gem to sell.

    The date and site have been chosen: Dec. 6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Mark it down. Christmas comes early for fight fans.

    All that's left is to choose an opponent, and that's where the story gets interesting.

    De La Hoya has lost mega fights to Felix Trinidad and Floyd Mayweather Jr., so there is incentive to try to avenge either of those, especially in the case of Trinidad, who handed De La Hoya his first defeat in a controversial decision in 1999 that still irks De La Hoya.

    Arum answers both those scenarios.

    "Mayweather is retired and Trinidad walks around weighing 200 pounds," he said.

    That leaves the winner of Cotto-Margarito as the obvious next one up. Except for one thing -- De La Hoya's uncanny sense of his fan base and the marketplace, an issue that looms much larger for him because his life after boxing is the already-booming Golden Boy Promotions company he runs with Schaefer.

    "If Margarito wins, Oscar won't fight him," Arum says. "He won't fight another Mexican in his last fight. I tested him on that. I asked about [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr,, which would be his easiest test. He said no. The Mexicans would hate him."

    De La Hoya, from East Los Angeles but of Mexican descent, has carried the perception throughout his career that he is more American than Mexican. Mexicans rooted heartily against him several years ago when he fought and beat the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez.

    Interestingly, even though he would be missing out on a huge payday, Margarito seems to understand De La Hoya's dilemma and even agrees with his decision.

    So, if Cotto wins, he would appear to be the choice, even though there was some recent talk that De La Hoya didn't like that matchup much either, because he lives in Puerto Rico much of the time now and his wife is Puerto Rican.

    The wild card in all this is Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao, who has won impressively in his recent fights and is now more interested in a matchup that would require him to fight at 10 to 12 pounds heavier than he was in his last match, which was at 135 pounds. Pacquiao actually started his pro career at 112, and his recent fight against David Diaz was his first at as much as 135. De La Hoya is best around 147-150. A catch weight would be part of the fight contract.

    Were the 3-1 favorite Cotto to lose tonight, or if De La Hoya ponders the possible beating he could take from Cotto and consider how much he likes to be the bigger man in the ring, Pacquiao might be the choice, no matter what.

    Arum says he has it on good authority -- Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach -- that Pacquiao is willing and able to fight De La Hoya.

    "Freddie says he thinks Pacquiao can knock Oscar out," Arum said.

    A Pacquiao-De La Hoya matchup was first bandied about more than a year ago by broadcaster Larry Merchant, a once-brilliant sports columnist who lost his way into television. Lots of people laughed at the idea then. They aren't laughing now.

    Arum and his Top Rank Promotions have been in the forefront of the game for more than 40 years and have handled most of the game's big names, including Muhammad Ali, as well as De La Hoya for most of his career before he struck out on his own. This time, Arum has all three players, Margarito, Cotto and Pacquiao.

    "I'm not in the catbird's seat, but I'm in a seat," he said. "Oscar is in the catbird's seat. He will determine the financials, because he is Oscar."

    Schaefer, De La Hoya's partner, would certainly agree with that. Reached in Europe, where he is on vacation, Schaefer played it closer to the vest than Arum, saying he didn't want to mess up any deal with public statements. But he said the deal will be done quickly, likely within 10 days, after talks with De La Hoya and then Arum.

    Then, we'll have the big announcement of the big night. Boxing likes to name these things. This one is easy.

    Break the Bank Night.

    bill.dwyre@latimes.com.

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    Re: Cotto vs. Margarito Press


    Miguel Cotto, left, and Antonio Margarito will fight Saturday in Las Vegas, with a possible fight against Oscar De La Hoya awaiting the winner.
    (Jason DeCrow / AP)
    July 25, 2008

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    Re: Cotto vs. Margarito Press

    Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito: The Pre-War Report Card

    by Cliff Rold

    The anticipation is so fevered amongst the hardcore faithful that it has to be asked: would a good fight be good enough? If WBA Welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto (32-0, 26 KO) and former WBO and IBF titlist Antonio Margarito (36-5, 26 KO) just went out and fought a hard twelve rounds, if it turns out to be slightly less than a classic, would it be okay?

    It’s the burden of the hyperbole and rhetoric flying around en route to the opening bell on Saturday night. When Cotto-Margarito stops being something to look forward to, removes itself from abstraction and unfolds as graphic reality, the hope for a classic will loom over every punch thrown. The first time someone’s head is jerked to the side by a smashing hook, a roar will come for the crowd asking “Is this it? Does the Fight of the Year start now?”

    There are a small handful of fights that ever garner this sort of buzz based solely on the action potential. Julio Cesar Chavez-Meldrick Taylor had it; so did the recent Israel Vasquez-Rafael-Marquez series. They were fights that featured elite, not quite mega-stars whose reputations were formed in the ring and not the larger social conversations that often drag along behind the brightest marquee battles.

    Before bell one, this is already a pure fight and that may be why ‘just’ a fight might not be good enough.

    Let’s go to the report card: http://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=15094

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    Re: Cotto vs. Margarito Press

    Antonio Margarito has at least a ghost of a chance
    Veteran fighter says his dead brother visits him in his dreams, but it isn't a haunting, it's motivating. He'll carry Manuel's spirit into the ring against welterweight champion Cotto.

    By Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    July 26, 2008

    LAS VEGAS -- This week Antonio Margarito had a long talk with his brother, as he does before every big fight.

    The two boxers chatted about everything and nothing, the way close brothers do when one's scared and the other's worried. And there'd be nothing unusual about any of this if not for the fact that Antonio Margarito's brother Manuel has been dead for eight years, shot in the back of the head in his Tijuana home.


    "I'm always thinking of him," Margarito said. "One incredible thing about that is whenever a fight is near, I always dream of him. They're very realistic dreams. It's like he's right there with me."

    He'll be with him again tonight when Margarito (36-5, 26 knockouts) climbs into the ring at the MGM Grand to face WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto (32-0, 26 KOs) in the biggest fight of his 15-year professional career.

    Not only is Margarito guaranteed at least $1.6 million, by far the most he has ever earned, but a victory over the heavily favored Cotto could lead to even more lucrative fights against Oscar De La Hoya or Floyd Mayweather Jr., should he decide to come out of retirement.

    It has been a long climb for Margarito, who was born in Torrance but grew up in a poor, lawless neighborhood in Tijuana. When he was in grade school his father introduced him and his brother to boxing and soon the boys were going straight from school to the gym.

    After a while, they skipped the school part and just went to the gym. Their father agreed to look the other way as long as they gave everything they had to the sport.

    "My dad told me there's a phrase that says anybody can be part of a group but to be a success you have to work harder," Margarito said in Spanish. "I always remembered that." Out of the ring, with his thick horn-rimmed glasses, the 30-year-old Margarito looks like an MBA student or an accountant. But the truth is, after dropping out of school in junior high, he became a pro fighter at 15 because he needed the money.

    And though he won eight of his first nine fights, the bouts, all in northern Mexico, paid little. So Margarito made himself a promise: if he ever made money in the ring he would skip the cars and the bling and spend it on a house, something no one could take away from him.

    "After that could come the cars or whatever," he said. "But first was going to come the house. And thank God I have it now."

    But he didn't buy in Tijuana's surrounding hills, where many of the elite in the city of 1.5 million, Mexico's sixth largest, choose to live. That would have been too ostentatious for the son of a door-to-door salesman.

    "Tony Margarito in Tijuana is Tony Margarito," said Michelle, his grade-school sweetheart and wife of eight years. "He's not better than anybody else or worse than anybody else."

    While Margarito waited to get married, his brother didn't, quitting boxing after only four pro fights to start a family. Less than four years later, intruders burst into his home and shot him as he watched television, leaving a baby girl and a wife nearly eight months pregnant with his son.

    Margarito, in Texas preparing to fight Buck Smith, had just returned from the weigh-in and a spaghetti dinner when he got the news. After a few moments of stunned silence, he started crying, then screaming.

    But several hours later, after regrouping, he insisted the fight go on and the next night he dismantled Smith -- who came in with an amazing 179 victories to his credit -- in six rounds.

    "My body was there," Margarito said. "But my mind wasn't."

    Outside of family and a close circle of friends, Margarito rarely spoke of the tragedy.

    "For many years that weighed on Tony's heart," Michelle said. "But Tony's the kind of person who keeps those things inside. He doesn't let people in. He's very guarded."

    While robbery is suspected, a motive for the killing has never been determined -- partly because Michelle, wary of who might be involved, urged her husband to give up his investigation shortly after the murder.

    "I told him, 'You know what? It's better if you stop all this,' " she said. "Your brother isn't going to come back. What happened happened. I understand he wants to know what happened to his brother and make the person that did it pay. But I was frightened for Tony and for the family."

    Margarito spoke publicly about his brother in April, after he knocked out Kermit Cintron in the sixth round of a welterweight title fight on what would have been Manuel's 33rd birthday.

    Now Margarito has assumed his brother's place as the family man fighting, figuratively and literally, to take care of an extended family that includes his wife's three brothers -- one of whom wants to be a boxer.

    "He wants to be like Tony. He doesn't want to study anymore," Michelle says of 16-year-old Hansel, who has won four of his first six bouts. "But Tony told him it's not so easy. You have to go to the gym and get better every day and keep knocking on doors like Tony did. Tony never let his opportunities pass."

    Tonight he'll try to make sure the biggest one of his career doesn't get away either.

    kevin.baxter@latimes.com

  11. #11
    tedsares
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    Re: Cotto vs. Margarito Predictions and Discussion

    Cotto-Margo: An Irresistible Force Colliding With an Immovable Object



    Not since the classic shoot-out between Mexican legend Salvador Sanchez and Puerto Rican bomber Wilfredo Gomez in 1981 have I anticipated a fight more. Once again, two tough-as-nails guys will be meeting in a clash of titans. And again, one is from boxing crazy Puerto Rico; the other from boxing crazy Mexico.

    Some say the result of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object is an indescribable collision, but I’ll try to describe what I think might happen on July 26 when these two immensely popular fighters collide at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

    A Clash of Styles

    Miguel “Junito” Cotto is 32-0 (KO 26) and brutalized his last opponent. Antonio “Tony” Margarito, 36-5 (KO 26, slaughtered his last foe. Both can render tremendous punishment (Cotto over Carlos Quintana and Alfonzo Gomez, and Margorito over Sebastian Andres Lujan and Kermit Cintron).

    A taller Margarito, 5' 11, ″ with a superior arm reach advantage of six inches, is an in-coming pressure fighter who simply does not back up and fights mostly flat-footed. He uses an incredibly high punch volume to break his opponents down in savage and relentless fashion. Cotto, at 5’ 7,’’ also is a pressure fighter ala a Jake LaMotta (though perhaps stronger than Jake relatively speaking) and uses punishing body work with a “stalk, stun and kill” mentality. Importantly, his technical skills have improved over his last few fights. He now possesses better footwork and showed a vastly improved ability to feint and throw sharp and faster combos against both Mosley and a terribly mismatched Gomez. Cotto’s best punch has always been the left hook, but against Sugar Shane (of all people), he displayed an excellent jab around which he can now dominate fights. The fact is, Cotto is on the verge of becoming a far more complete package.

    Neither fighter is known for great defense, but Cotto seems more open to counters and uppercuts than Margarito, and that could be key given Tony’s propensity to launch those types of punches.

    Bottom line: A bigger Margarito has fewer dimensions than Cotto and lacks Junito‘s superior timing, but Cotto has never faced a welterweight of this size..

    Level of Opposition

    “Junito” Cotto has fought far better opposition having beaten several former world champions. These include Sugar Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, DeMarcus Corley (TKO5), Randall Bailey (TKO6), Carlos Maussa (TKO8), and Cesar Bazan (TKO11). He also beat, in particularly frightening fashion, previously undefeated Carlos Quintana (TKO5). Other victims include Paulie Malignaggi (W12), Ricardo Torres (KO7), and Kelson Pinto (TKO6), as well as contenders Muhammad Abdulaev (TKO9), Victoriano Sosa (TKO4) and Lovemore Ndou (W12). That’s an impressive list.

    Tony Margarito has a KO parentage of 61.9 against the likes of Kermit Cintron (twice), Golden Johnson, Sebastian Andres Lujan, Andrew Lewis, David Kamau, Antonio Diaz, and Sergio Gabriel Martinez. His first round icing of Manuel “Shotgun” Gomez in 2006 showcased Tony at his explosive best. But--and this is a big but--he has tasted defeat several times, most notably to Top contender Paul Williams and a rejuvenated Daniel Santos. His win over an improving Joshua Clottey in 2006 was less than compelling.

    Bottom line: Unlike the stock market, past performance may not be a major factor in judging the outcome of this fight. Both are coming in at their prime and both will be appropriately motivated. On paper, a significant edge to Cotto; in reality, Margo is as ready as he ever will be.

    The Essentials:

    Margarito keeps moving forward to get inside his opponents where he can assault them both upstairs and downstairs, but wait, so does Cotto.

    Margarito is big and strong and stalks his opponents around the ring until he tires them, takes them out of their rhythm, and then moves in for the close. He is a classic “stalk, stun and kill” type of guy, but again, so is Cotto who himself is stocky and strong. Both are definitive closers with a strong will to prevail.

    Cotto, with a very impressive KO percentage of 81.25, has never been stopped, but neither has Margarito. Margarito has one of the best chins in boxing. Cotto has been hurt on more than one occasion. DeMarcus Corley had him staggering and reeling in the third round of their 2005 fight until Cotto chopped down “Chop Chop” in the fifth. Against Riccardo Torres, he again was badly hurt and seemingly on the brink of defeat, but somehow regrouped and took out Torres in the seventh round in their exciting brawl also in 2005.

    Outcome

    Paul Williams was able to beat Margo by utilizing a disciplined fight plan and by staying on the outside keeping Tony at bay with a great volume of effective jabs. Cotto, in my view, is too small to emulate this strategy.

    I see Margarito eventually luring Cotto into a slug fest, taking away his fight plan and with it, his focus. Against Sugar Shane Mosley, Cotto tired in the late rounds, but Mosley was too tired himself to capitalize. If this happens against Tony, it will prove fatal. However, I don’t see the fight going that long.

    With his superior size, I see the warrior from Tijuana getting stronger with each round and, with alternating brutal shots to the body and straight rights upstairs, imposing his will on Cotto by the sixth or seventh stanza. Once this occurs, he will be in a position to stagger his smaller opponent with either a debilitating shot to the liver or straight right to the temple. He then will close matters decisively around the eight or ninth round.

    The explosive Margarito has never really been hurt. Conversely, Cotto has been hurt and badly so. Margarito is capable of dishing out big time pain--and once he has an opponent on the hook, he does allow him an escape route.

    Still, no matter how the fight ends, it is guaranteed to be great, perhaps even with historical significance.


    PS: Naturally, I got good early odds on this fight.

  12. #12
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    Re: Cotto vs. Margarito Predictions and Discussion

    Cotto vs. Margarito: The Post-War Report Card

    By Cliff Rold

    And Johnny comes marching home…

    So goes the old post war lament. Fitting, because that was what we saw a piece of on Saturday night: a war between two honorable warriors. It wasn’t the best fight of the year; that’s still Israel Vasquez-Rafael Marquez III. It wasn’t even necessarily a great fight, lacking the wildness of a Carmen Basilio-Tony DeMarco or the ebb and flow of a Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran. Yet, as the last bit of spirit drained from Miguel Cotto (32-1, 26 KO) in round eleven, fans could feel the emotion in witnessing the climax of a story that truly began over six years ago when now-new WBA Welterweight champion Antonio Margarito (37-5, 27 KO) captured his first belt against Antonio Diaz in 2002.

    After six years being regarded as one of the best Welterweights in the world, six years where Margarito could never secure a shot at one of the men regarded as the true Welterweight champion of the World as that title passed from Vernon Forrest to Ricardo Mayorga…Cory Spinks…Zab Judah…Carlos Baldomir…Floyd Mayweather…after all those names and time, Margarito stands tall atop the division.

    Sort of.

    We’ll get back to that.

    The question was posed in the pre-fight report card, “If WBA Welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto (32-0, 26 KO) and former WBO and IBF titlist Antonio Margarito (36-5, 26 KO) just went out and fought a hard twelve rounds, if it turns out to be slightly less than a classic, would it be okay?” It was more than ‘just’ a fight and a classic in its own right on par with Bernard Hopkins career redeeming win over Felix Trinidad and Evander Holyfield’s validation against Mike Tyson. As the rave reviews from fans and pundits alike make clear, it was a fight sure to be remembered for years to come.

    Let’s go to the report card: http://www.boxingscene.com/index.php?m=show&id=15140

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