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  Cotto Exploits Weakened Eye To Defeat Margarito; & Undercard Results From The Garden

By Tim Donaldson
Photos: Dorotea Arango

 

Boxing, like any type of combat, is all about finding your opponent’s weaknesses and using them to your advantage. If you cannot find a weakness, you try to create one. When Margarito defeated Cotto in their first fight, he kept going to the body of Cotto, wearing him down, so he could exploit that weakness at the end of the fight. If Margarito did use plaster in that fight as Cotto and many others believe, that too gave him an advantage. Cotto, likewise, exploited Margarito’s weaknesses.

It began even before the fight had started. Cotto and his team asked for the assistance of Naazim Richardson. It was no surprise. Richardson was the one who found the tainted wraps when Margarito fought Mosley. It was that night that Mosley easily defeated Margarito. The presence of Naazim Richardson would have as much to do with reminding Margarito of that night, as it was to make sure that he did not cheat. He was there to give Cotto a psychological edge.

Although some of the press was aware of Naazim Richardson’s presence at the fight, the majority of the crowd was left in the dark. These are the little things that go on behind the scenes that can make a big difference. However, Cotto probably did not need that psychological edge. He had made it clear long before the fight that he was going to target Margarito’s eye. Although Pacquiao probably never intended it for this reason, the damage he did to that eye was a gift to Miguel Cotto.

Everyone knew that Margarito’s eye could be trouble. It was talked about. The HBO show 24/7 mentioned that it could be a problem. Even the New York Athletic Commission saw the potential for disaster, but their doctors cleared Margarito to fight. And so, Margarito was cleared to climb into the ring to face Miguel Cotto one more time.

Cotto, who has always had more boxing skills than Margarito, moved around the ring in the first round, landing his jab with little difficulty. He didn’t give Margarito the opportunity to trade with him. Although Margarito was able to catch Cotto more in the second, it still was not enough. Cotto was landing combination after combination. And to even the most casual observer, it was obvious that Cotto was aiming all of his shots to the head of Margarito.

The payoff for all of these shots to the head came early in the fight. It was in the first half of the third round that blood could be seen coming from Margarito’s right eye. At first, Margarito was still able to fight. He was attempting to cut off the ring and landed several good shots at the end of the round. But by the beginning of the fourth round, it was clear that Margarito was losing the use of his right eye. Cotto kept aiming for the eye. The fifth round was the last round that Margarito put up any type of fight for Cotto. Margarito kept coming forward in the first half of the round. Cotto was able to knock him back. However, Margarito was pressuring Cotto back at the end of the round.

By the sixth round, the fight was effectively over. Cotto was landing shots to the head of Margarito at will. Every time Cotto threw the left, it seemed to connect with the right eye of Margarito. Margarito had lost his peripheral vision and probably his depth perception too. From that round on, the rounds all looked the same. Margarito was throwing a probing jab to judge the distance of Cotto. He was doing everything possible to keep the fight inside. Cotto kept moving, landing shot after shot to the head of Margarito. Margarito would stalk toward Cotto, trying to close the gap, and the whole time Cotto just kept hitting that eye. In the ninth round, Margarito had tripped into Cotto. Cotto was using his weight to push Margarito to the ropes and then he would open up on Margarito once again.

Between each round, the doctors would check Margarito’s eye. They probably had reason to stop the fight by the fifth or sixth round, but Referee Steve Smoger stopped it at the beginning of the tenth at the doctor’s advice. Cotto had gotten his revenge. His revenge appears to go much deeper than just beating Antonio Margarito. To Cotto’s fans and many fans of boxing, Margarito’s entire career will once again be called into question. It will be that much harder for Margarito to deny any wrong doing. And then there is the question of Margarito’s eye. Will Antonio Margarito be able to box again?


The undercard featured some of the up and coming fighters. Brandon Rios defeated John Murray by TKO. Murray proved to be a tough opponent who refused to back down. His strategy rested on fighting inside. As long as he could do this, he could neutralize Rios. But when Rios could get some distance, Murray found himself on the losing end. For the majority of the fight, Rios had little trouble slipping his shots through the defenses of John Murray. And when Murray started to get the upper hand, Rios would quickly turn it back around. In the third, Murray was knocking Rios back across the ring but was stopped by a body shot from Rios. However, Murray did have some success in the fourth and fifth rounds. In the fifth, Rios was throwing little more than his jab.

By the sixth round, Rios was clearly in control again. He was throwing hooks and following them up with upper cuts. Rios was having little trouble backing Murray around the ring. Blood was coming from the nose of Murray, and by the end of the round, he was covered in blood. Murray kept his distance in the seventh but still managed to throw a low shot. By the tenth round, both fighters were looking tired. In the eleventh, Rios staggered Murray. Murray was obviously in trouble. Rios backed him to the ropes. It was obvious Murray would not survive, and Referee Earl Brown stopped the fight.

Delvin Rodriguez and Pawel Wolak fought a tough fight. Wolak is a true puncher, with little finesse. Wolak fights one way. Forward and inside. Rodriguez, to defeat Wolak, relied on his boxing skills. He kept distance between them. He would come in long enough to land his shots and then get out. At times, he would keep his left hand in the face of Wolak and then try to follow it up with his right. Rodriguez proved his skills whenever caught on the ropes. He would spin out and catch Wolak. By the tenth round, Wolak looked tired and had no power behind his punches. Rodriguez won the unanimous decision of the judges. The scores were 98-91, 98-92, and 100-90.

Mike Jones and Sebastian Lujan led the televised portion of the fight in their IBF eliminator fight. It was Jones’ first real test since his rematch with Soto Karass. It seems that Mike Jones may have learned the lesson of the first Soto Karass fight all too well, as some in the press thought he was not exciting enough. However, Jones did prove himself to be a more disciplined fighter. It was in the second round of the first Soto Karass fight that he punched himself out. Jones had Lujan on the ropes in the second but did not make the same mistake. Jones was landing his shots to both the head and body of Lujan. This was having a noticeable effect on Lujan by the seventh, as his punches seemed to lack power. Although it looked as though Jones might knock out Lujan in the twelfth, Lujan survived. Jones won by unanimous decision. Two judges scored the fight 119-109, while one scored it 118-110.

In the first fight of the evening, Welterweight Samuel Figueroa beat Ibrihim Shabazz by split decision. Figueroa knocked Shabazz down in the first round, giving him the advantage.

Bantamweight Hanzel Martinez beat Felipe Castaneda by majority decision in a four round contest.

Super Welterweight Glen Tapia knocked out Mike Ruiz in the second. Tapia looked to be in trouble but battled back to knock out Ruiz at the end of the round.

Sean Monaghan beat Santos Martinez by TKO. Monaghan knocked down Martinez in the first. The bout was stopped in the second round.

Mike Lee beat Allen Medina by TKO. The fight was stopped in the fourth round.



 

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