Latino sports writer Rich Mancuso comments on the upcoming Cotto-Margarito boxing match and says "Now, though, it is time to expose Cotto (32-0, 26 KO’s) to the Latino market on the west coast." Yes, New York Latinos, particularly Puerto Ricans will have a Puerto Rican Day Parade without a Cotto Fight in the month of June.

NEW YORK – The east coast exposure for WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto over the past few years has been a successful venture, especially at Madison Square Garden in New York City where he fought and defended two different titles before capacity crowds.


The Latino boxing fan, those of Puerto Rican descent, wanted to see Cotto and they welcomed him after seeing another former champion Felix Trinidad defend his championship many times at the Garden. Even Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City New Jersey has hosted Cotto fights, most recently last month when he TKO’d Alfonso Gomez and retained the WBA championship for a fourth time on HBO.

Now, though, it is time to expose Cotto (32-0, 26 KO’s) to the Latino market on the west coast. His next title defense, which could be his toughest, comes against Antonio Margarito (36-5, 26KO’s) the three-time champion from Tijuana Mexico and current WBO International welterweight champion.


Cotto loves fighting in New York and at the Garden. He slipped for a moment when making an opening statement to the media Thursday at Marc Echo Studio in New York City, the third of a four- city tour announcing the fight.


“I’m here to promote my next fight at Madison….,” he said and then paused. It got a laugh from Cotto and the media. He went on without any further mention of the Garden.


The 12-round title defense will be at the MGM Grand Garden Arena out in Las Vegas Nevada. The fight to be televised on HBO pay-per-view Saturday July 26th.and when tickets went on sale Thursday morning in Vegas they were going fast. Because this could be the fight of the year, also Cotto and Margarito are fighting for higher stakes.


“My career has to continue,” said Cotto. “I don’t have to wait for anyone,” obviously referring to Floyd Mayweather or any of the other formidable opponents in the welterweight division.  Cotto, if he does get by Margarito, could be considered the hottest commodity the sport of boxing has, and his popularity expands beyond New York and Puerto Rico.


But Cotto doesn’t look past what he has awaiting him. Once again Cotto was focusing on Margarito, a fighter who also has the potential to change Cotto’s future options. A win for Cotto and then there is serious talk about Floyd Mayweather, assuming Mayweather is still around after his planned bout with Oscar De La Hoya in December.

“If you want to fight Miguel Cotto, be prepared for that,” he said. Regarding Margarito he said, “It’s going to be a real battle. He referred to his previous title defenses the past two years in New York against Shane Mosley, and Zab Judah. “And like Mosley and Judah, Margarito will leave the ring second best,” he said.


The confidence and discipline is what promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank likes about Cotto. Arum often refers to the days when he promoted top welterweight and middleweight championship fights in Vegas, with Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard, epic battles in the 1980’s at the outdoor Caesars Palace Arena.


And like Hagler, Leonard and Hearns you don’t have to ask Cotto about his next opponent or where to fight. Cotto would have preferred New York City again. He has fought the last two years at the Garden on the eve of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, but his fight schedule this year did not allow that to occur.


“You don’t have to ask him will you fight this guy or that guy,” said Arum. “He and his uncle Evangalista, (Cotto’s trainer) always approve. This was the time now to move Cotto to the west where he will be introduced to Mexican fight fans as well. A tough Mexican welterweight vs. the top Puerto Rican welterweight and Margarito carries hope for all Mexican boxing fans.”


Mexican fight fans that will also cheer on Margarito and Arum, is promoting this as “The Battle” – “La Batalla.”   A fight that has been talked about for months and has the makings of one that could be better than Hagler-Hearns or a Leonard-Hearns battle that thrilled boxing fans.


Margarito feels this won’t be his most difficult fight and many boxing experts say the fight can go either way.  “It is the fight of this century and there hasn’t been a better fight put together yet,” said boxing expert and author Bert Randolph Sugar. “I see a Hearns and Leonard comparison and non boxing fans interested in this,” said Sugar.


“It’s just me and him in the ring,” commented Margarito about Cotto. “I am aware this is a difficult fight.” Margarito returns to Vegas for the first time in more than two years where he knocked out Manuel Gomez in the first round in defense of his WBO welterweight belt during his first title reign.


And this is the first time Cotto has fought in Vegas since 2004 where he knocked out Randall Bailey in the sixth round, successfully defending his WBO junior welterweight title for the first time.


But whether this is the East or West coast, the fight is intriguing and styles make fights. Both Cotto and Margarito have styles that will make this a battle. Cotto a good puncher and can take a punch. Margarito offers the same.  


Arum also looks at this fight as a venture to get more free televised fight in Mexico, though this one is strictly on a pay-per-view basis. Televised fights in the country, he says, are gaining higher ratings than the sport of soccer.


More so the entire sport anticipates a fight like this, and Cotto always seems to deliver what the fight fan wants. 


Edited/Posted by WGR


About Rich Mancuso

Established sports journalist and educator. Contact Rich at [email protected]