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If Cotto Takes Another Savage Beating, Should He Retire?

Miguel CottoBy Sean McDaniel: Though more than a few boxing fans of former WBA welterweight Miguel Cotto (32-1, 26 KOs) are saying he didn’t take a savage beating at the hands of challenger Antonio Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs) last Saturday night in the process of losing a 11th round TKO, I beg to differ. Cotto, 27, took some serious punishment from Margarito, the type that often sticks with a fighter for the remainder of their career, changing how they fight and how much punishment they can take without succumbing once again. Cotto fought like a warrior for the first half of the fight, I give him that, but he looked meek, more than a little scared, as he ran for his life in the last six rounds of the fight.

It was during that time that Cotto took a god-awful amount of punishment from Margarito, in particular with shots to the head. Cotto’s entire head looked like a lumped up red grape by the end of the fight in the 11th round, no doubt a product of Margarito’s many hooks and uppercuts that he landed during the fight. At this point, naturally, Cotto hasn’t given any word about what he plans to do next, but based on how badly he was beaten it would be smart for him to probably avoid fighting Margarito any time soon in a rematch. Ideally, Cotto should never fight Margarito again, because like Kermit Cintron, a fighter that Margarito easily stopped twice in his career, I think Cotto just doesn’t match up well with Margarito. However, knowing how much pride Cotto has in himself, I wouldn’t be the least surprised if he immediately calls for a rematch with Margarito, hoping to avenge his defeat and repair his wounded pride.

If this occurs, I don’t really see how the fight could be any different than it was last Saturday night. Cotto, as good as he was in beating the most C and B-level fighters that he faced in his career, just didn’t have it in him to beat an A-class fighter like Margarito. If Cotto does decide to fight Margarito again, it will probably end with Cotto taking another horrible beating, one that could possibly end up with him being badly hurt much more than Saturday’s bout. As things stand now, I’m not so sure Cotto will be the same fighter no matter whom he fights. I doubt that his promoter will risk putting him in with a young lion like Paul Williams, who is perhaps even better than Margarito and who would have a tremendous height and reach advantage over the smallish 5’7″ Cotto.

It would probably amount to the same kind of beating for Cotto, because if he couldn’t hurt Williams and score a knockout, than Cotto would be looking at getting pounded endlessly without stop for the full 12-rounds. Frankly, I doubt Cotto, with his soft chin, would hold up for more than seven or eight rounds of that kind of a methodical beating, despite Williams being mostly a slapping-type puncher. I guess if you get slapped enough, it equals out to the same thing as if you’d been hit with a number of power shots. I think Cotto is going to be susceptible for a long time to getting knocked out after this last fight.

Believe me, this isn’t the type of fight that he can simply put past him as a learning experience and move on as if nothing happened. This fight was like being in a terrible car crash, and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t have a lasting effect on him. With that in mind, I’m wondering if Cotto might be better off stepping away from boxing should be take one more horrendous beating like he just suffered. It’s not worth it for him to continue fighting, not when he’s already made a lot of money and probably can afford to retire from the sport and live the rest of his life comfortably in Puerto Rico.

Certainly, I think he can continue fighting effectively against softer fighters, the lower quality B and C fighters that he’s fought for most of his career, but if he decides on taking on a top fighter like Margarito, Williams or Andre Berto, I doubt that Cotto can take that kind of punishment anymore. He clearly wouldn’t even try to trade shots with them, perhaps knowing that his chin might not hold up. Hence we’d probably see a lot of running, clinching and wrestling to slow the fight down and keep from getting hit as often as possible. Even using this style of fighting, I’m not entirely sure that Cotto can be successful for long.

You have to have good stamina to fight in that manner, and Cotto, I hate to say it, is a below average fighter when it comes to his stamina. He seems to wear out by the 7th round in most of his important fights. Up until now, it didn’t matter because he had so much more ability than his opponents, and could still win even while fighting in a fatigued stage. Against Shane Mosley, Cotto’s lack of stamina hurt him, and he ended up losing many of the later rounds of the fight because of it. Personally, I think Cotto should stick around for awhile, forget about fighting Margarito ever again, and try and focus on beating easier fighters.

I think if he can stay away from sluggers for awhile, and maybe fight Berto in a year or two, he might be able to win the title. I kind of doubt it, because his chin probably won’t hold up, but he has a better chance of beating him than he does of ever beating the likes of Williams and Margarito. If at all possible, he should reconsider moving back down to the light welterweight division. I think he’d do much better there against the softer punchers and might be able to win and hold onto a title for awhile. A fight against Ricky Hatton would be hugely popular, and I definitely think Cotto, even if his chin is permanently damaged, could beat him with relative ease.

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