Cotto, Margarito Crush Foes on Collision Course

COTTO, MARGARITO DOMINATE FOES ON COLLISION COURSE

The names of Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito have been a mouthwatering pair ever since their promoter Bob Arum mentioned the prospect of them sharing a ring back in late 2006. After scoring impressive knockouts on the same card Saturday night, Cotto stopping Alfonso Gomez in five rounds and Margarito dispatching Kermit Cintron in six, the two men have never been closer to a potential showdown than they are now.

COTTO CRUSHES GOMEZ

Undefeated WBA Welterweight Champion Miguel Cotto continued his winning ways by forcing a stoppage over the overmatched Alfonso Gomez. Gomez made his name off the Contender television series and upped his stock with a knockout win over the badly faded Arturo Gatti in July. But Cotto was a giant step up in competition for the challenger, who lasted just about as long as anyone could expect.

From the outset, Cotto proved to be the better fighter in every category, stuffing a thudding jab in Gomez’ face and raking him with his best hooks, both to the head and the body. Late in round two, Gomez went down after absorbing a body shot that sent him staggering away and catching himself with his gloves. Cotto wobbled his challenger with a similar combination before the bell but eased off the throttle, biding his time as though he was in no rush to get the show over with.

By the third round, Cotto was fighting as comfortably as he would in a sparring session. Regularly switching from a conventional to a southpaw stance, Cotto winded his right glove up prior to firing, stepped away after landing hurtful combinations, and finished the round with a digging uppercut to the chest, followed by a left hook that knocked Gomez down on his knees and into the ropes. Gomez got up, wincing, but beat Referee Randy Neumann’s count after the bell had sounded to end the round.

So one-sided was the beating in round four, a round in which Cotto was at ease to the point that he dropped his hands between rapid-fire combinations, that the ringside doctor had to tell Gomez’ corner to begin considering the possibility of stopping the fight when the challenger returned to his stool.

A jab to the face midway through the fifth round was enough to drop Gomez, who had never been down in his career prior to meeting Cotto, for the third time in the fight, this time on his rear. Again, Gomez showed his grit by continuing in what had become a hopeless effort, and Cotto stayed away from him for the rest of the round, apparently showing mercy. With Gomez’ eyes beginning to shut and blood coming from his mouth, the doctor denied Gomez a sixth round, ending the fight in a technical knockout victory for the champion. Gomez hung his head in shame when he had every right to breathe a sigh of relief.

If Antonio Margarito is indeed next on Cotto’s agenda, then a fight fan’s dream is on the horizon. Both men are head first, hard nosed fighters who will test their opponent’s will like no one else can. If Cotto is the great fighter he thus far appears to be, then his chance to prove it will come against Margarito in a fight in which either man’s all offense style could carry him to, or cost him victory.

MARGARITO REPEATS KNOCKOUT OF CINTRON

In a rematch three years to the month from the first encounter, the sequel to Antonio Margarito against Kermit Cintron shared the same outcome. Margarito once again knocked down and stopped Cintron, this time a round later than the fifth round conclusion from 2005, and with the IBF Welterweight Championship on the line.

Cintron, the champion in this meeting, landed some heavy blows in the first round, the only round he could be said to have won, but it wasn’t enough to keep Margarito from attacking. The “Tijuana Tornado” was as relentless as ever, ripping Cintron with every punch in his arsenal, both to the body and the head, about thirty seconds into the second round and didn’t stop until he heard the bell. It was a test of Cintron’s power against Margarito’s chin, and so long as the IBF Champion failed to shake the Mexican, Cintron’s chances of winning were remote.

Keeping some distance, Cintron fought a good first half of round three, but Margarito, bleeding from a cut over his left eye, poured the pressure on, doubling the champion over several times with body shots. Rather than defend himself, Cintron opted to complain about rabbit punches, leaving himself open for more punishment from the challenger. Cintron walloped Margarito with some big right hands again in the fourth round but failed to crack Margarito’s impeccable chin. Margarito took the punches well and continued chopping away with shots of his own, slowly but surely breaking Cintron down.

After suffering a cut over his right eye just as he did in the first fight, Cintron stumbled around the ring on unsteady legs for much of round five. Referee Earl Brown bailed him out, however, just when it appeared Margarito was going to score a knockout, by warning the Mexican challenger about rabbit punching whenever Cintron was doubled over and defenseless. The fans shared Margarito’s complaint, booing in unison, but the knockout would come soon thereafter regardless.

Midway through round six, Margarito was swarming Cintron as usual and snuck in a left hook to the body under Cintron’s right hand, a shot which immediately dropped the champion to the canvas. Margarito mocked Cintron by shouting and beckoning him to rise for a further beating, but ten seconds later, the IBF title holder was counted out on all fours, and the challenger became the champion.

While Cintron deserves credit for attempting to erase his only loss by fighting Margarito, he once again demonstrated that he lacks the mentality to be champion when things begin to fall apart for him in the ring. The cut visibly bothered him, and he spent most of the fight complaining rather than fighting. The new champion, on the other hand, has always made up for his lack of speed and skill by fighting aggressively and demonstrating a willingness to take a punch to land one, attributes he will undoubtedly need when taking on Miguel Cotto in what should be the biggest brawl of the late summer to early fall.

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