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Cotto-Margarito: Has Miguel Bit off More Than He Can Chew?

cotto44572.jpgBy Dan Ambrose: Up until this point in his seven-year boxing career, undefeated WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto (32-0, 26 KOs) has had the physical and offensive advantages over every one of his opponents, but this Saturday Cotto will finally meet a fighter in Antonio Margarito (36-5, 26 KOs) is superior to Cotto in every possible way – work rate, size, reach, chin and experience – with the exception of youth and power. There are a lot of things working against the young 27 year-old Cotto going into this bout, and regardless of the things that he’s accomplished up until now in beating mostly lesser fighters or fighters considered over the hill, it may do little to prepare him for what Margarito will be bringing to the ring on Saturday night.

Size: The size alone, with Margarito towering over Cotto by four inches and with a reach advantage of half a foot, will be huge obstacle for Cotto to get past. However, the height advantage might be minimized because Margarito tends to stand in close and loop many of his punches, not using his reach to his full benefit. But, when Margarito does choose to fight on the outside, Cotto, a fighter who tends to fight mostly on the inside, will likely find that he’s unable to get his big body shots nor land his excellent jab.

The jab is a relatively new weapon for him, something that he’s only recently started using in fights against Shane Mosley and Zab Judah. Against those shorter fighters, Cotto was able to use it to dominate on occasion when they would move to the outside. It’s unclear, however, whether Cotto will be able to do the same against the long-armed Margarito, who might have too much of a reach advantage for Cotto to land his jabs unless he catches Margarito on the way in.

Work rate: This is an area where Cotto is at a bad disadvantage, and no matter how much he’s prepared to up his punch output in training for the fight, it likely won’t change enough for him to be able to match Margarito’s non-stop style of punching. Cotto is a more deliberate, more methodical type of a puncher, who tends to think first before firing his shots off. The process of thinking seems to slow him down more than a little, making him almost predictable at times. You pretty much know what he’s going to do at all times, namely fire off a right hand, maybe a jab from the outside, and then work his way to the inside and start throwing hooks to the body mostly and then the head. The problem here, though, is unless Cotto can hurt Margarito with a body shot, he may be buried by Margarito’s heavy punch output.

As Margarito showed against Kermit Cintron ( a 6th round TKO win for Margarito) in his last fight in April, he’s virtually unbeatable when he’s throwing 100 punches per round, which is what Margarito averaged against Cintron. As good as Cintron’s power was, which is probably a level above that of Cotto, it didn’t have the effect of slowing down Margarito’s work rate at all, not even by a small margin.

The same holds true for Cotto, for if he can’t match Margarito’s work rate, then he’s going to have to try and slow him down somehow whether that be by clinching, fighting on the outside or running. I can’t see Cotto running, because he seems to proud to do that. I also can’t see him clinching either, though that would be the smart thing for him to do if things suddenly turn sour for him in the early going. That will leave Cotto with only one option – to try and slug it out with Margarito and beat him down with harder shots.

Power: This is an area where Cotto has a significant advantage, in that he’s shorter, stockier fighter who can generate a tremendous amount of power in his shots, especially when punching to the body. Margarito, for his part, punches hard but is more dependent on taking out his opponents with a massive horde of punches rather than one or two big shots like Cotto. The power advantage for Cotto gives him his only real chance of beating Margarito, for if he can hurt him with a big shot to the body or possibly to the head, and maybe knock him down, then Cotto has a chance of ending the fight quickly at a moment’s notice.

It would probably be safe to say that Cotto will be putting everything he has into his shots, trying to make each one of them count, to try and take Margarito out as fast as he can. Because if Cotto doesn’t score a quick knockout, the effects of having to deal with 100 punches thrown at him every round will have a serious withering effect on him making it less likely that he can score a knockout later in the fight. High guard or no high guard, being hit 50-60 times per round will take a lot out of Cotto, and will cause him to deteriorate in the later rounds.

Chin: Margarito’s chin is known for being like rock, though he does get stunned on occasions like in his fights against Joshua Clottey and Paul Williams. However, in each situation, Margarito has recovered quickly and continued to fire away with his shots. He showed in his two fights with Cintron that he can take his biggest shots without going down, which says all you need to know about Margarito’s chin. Cotto, though, is much more susceptible to getting hurt, as he’s previously been knocked down or hurt in fights against DeMarcus Corley, Ricardo Torres and Zab Judah, to name just a few.

He’s been lucky in each case, because none of them threw enough punches afterwards to finish Cotto off. If this happens against Margarito, Cotto might not be so lucky because he’ll be hit with a storm of punches rather than just one or two big shots, which was the case in his fights with Judah, Torres and Corley. They made the mistake of trying to load up with their shots, thus limiting the amount of punches they were able to land on Cotto after they had him hurt. Margarito, however, doesn’t fight in that way and won’t load up, and instead will try and bury Cotto with punches.

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