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Cotto’s legacy to be defined by tonight’s rematch with Margarito

Antonio Margarito Miguel CottoBy Dan Ambrose: There is more to tonight’s fight than just the outcome of who wins and loses in the Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito II grudge match, there is also Cotto’s legacy that will be largely defined by how he does in this fight. Although Cotto is a huge hero back home in Peurto Rico among his loyal boxing fans, his career hasn’t been a very steady one. He was built up as a great fighter early on in his career, but was quickly slapped down when he was finally matched against a really tough opponent in Margarito.

Cotto was later battered by Manny Pacquiao in a 12th round TKO loss in 2009. The victories have chalked up have mostly come against beatable opposition like Michael Jennings, Joshua Clottey, Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Oktay Urkal, Alfonso Gomez, Carlos Quintana, Paulie Malignaggi, Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga, Gianluca Branco, Ricardo Torres, DeMarcus Corley, Randall Bailey, and Muhammad Abdullaev. Those are some decent fighters, but not a lot of real quality guys. To be sure, Mosley was a great fighter in his prime, and Judah was good as well. However, both were slipping at the time Cotto fought them, and yet they still gave Cotto a lot of problems.

Mosley had Cotto on the run and lost by a narrow decision in 2007. And Judah had Cotto badly hurt and was promptly tagged with a low blow shortly after hurting him. Cotto’s over Clottey was a controversial one with many boxing fans thinking Clottey did enough to get the win. The fact that Cotto had to go life and death with Clottey kind of tells you something about Cotto’s talent level.

If Cotto fails once again tonight against Margarito, it pretty much lets you know that Cotto wasn’t a great fighter or even close to it. It suggests that Cotto was a good brawler in the Marcos Maidana mode, but who struggled when he was taken out of his comfort zone and matched tough by his promoter Bob Arum.

Cotto had put the blame for his loss last time against Margarito on what he believes were loaded hand wraps that he thinks Margarito used to beat him in 2008. But all of that guesswork by Cotto will be meaningless joke if he gets stopped again by Margarito. It’s one thing to blame your loss on Margarito having tainted wraps, but it’s a whole different matter if Margarito turns around and does it again under the bright lights tonight in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Cotto’s legacy will thus be changed permanently unless he’s able to move on and do incredible things, which I kind of doubt.

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