Antonio Margarito has not won a fight of any notoriety since his late round destruction of Miguel Cotto in July 2008. Allegedly, that was also the last time he entered the ring with a brick in the form of plastered hand wraps. Cotto, however, avenged the loss in a lopsided technical knockout over Margarito in the 10th round last night at Madison Square Garden. After the fight, when asked by Max Kellerman if Margarito’s punches felt different, the always classy Cotto replied, “I’m still standing.”
Stand he did—and move, and deliver sharp, accurate punches. It could be argued that the fight stoppage was premature; however, Margarito’s right eye was swollen shut and he was doing absolutely nothing to show that his role was simply to accept a long overdue beat down. Based on straight-up talent, Margarito never belonged in the ring with Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao, or Miguel Cotto. He is not a world class fighter and never was. Hopefully, we will never see him again as part of a major boxing event.
Cotto is a different story. He is without question one of the great fighters to emerge out of the last 10 years. He avenged his first loss last night, but likely won’t get the chance to avenge his second one against Manny Pacquiao. At 31, however, he is on the verge of a substantial rebirth as a junior middleweight. He could face the talented Saul Alvarez for another Puerto Rico vs Mexico showdown to determine The Ring’s champion. James Kirkland and, to a lesser extent, Alfredo Angulo make very interesting matchups even if none of them rise to the level of pay-per-view (or should). There is also Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Also emerging victorious last night was Brandon Rios. After being tested early by England’s John Murray, Rios busted open Murray’s face and dominated him in the mid-late rounds to earn his 22nd stoppage. Assuming that he can continue to make the lightweight limit (and wants to), then there are only two fights left for him in the division—Juan Manuel Marquez and Robert Guerrero. Marquez makes the most sense; however, in light of the spam coming from the Guerrero machine, shutting up Guerrero is selfishly this author’s preference. Robert, you’re not going to fight Mayweather in May. Nobody wants to see that fight, Floyd is not ducking you, you’re just simply not even close to his level and have zero fan base. Pick a fight with Rios electronically, but after your lawyers take a look at the CAN-SPAM Act. Just sayin’.
Finally, rare props are owed to Top Rank for giving fans a worthy event. In the spirit of the holidays, let’s make this a tradition shall we? Maybe give us less weigh-in and more expert pre-fight analysis though. Regardless, keep the momentum so that fans can feel good about foregoing the purchase of Modern Warfare 3 to pay for top shelf boxing. Again, just sayin’.