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It's the one we've been waiting for: Cotto v Margarito II

The long-time rivals are to meet in the ring for the first time since their controversial bout three years ago. Gavin Grace takes a look…

Cotto (left) with Margarito (right)
Cotto (left) with Margarito (right)

Unlike film, the murky world of sport doesn’t often give us battles between good and evil, but that just might be what we see in Madison Square Garden when Miguel Cotto goes toe-to-toe with Antonio Margarito on Saturday night.

At stake will be national pride, personal honour and something even deeper than that, rarely seen even in the demanding sport of boxing.

It is three years since Cotto and Margarito last fought, a night when the Mexican Margarito was a surprise winner against the previously unbeaten Puerto Rican.

Cotto was ahead on the cards, slightly, but was taking a beating. Near the end of Round 11, he took a knee – an astonishing sight for the tough man – prompting his uncle and trainer Evangelista Cotto to step in and throw in the town.  However, there would be a sting in the tail.

YouTube credit: HBO

Margarito’s next contest would see him take on Shane Mosley and, in the dressing room beforehand, trainer Javier Capetillo was caught trying to place a plaster-type substance into his hand wraps.

Margarito was banned for a year and suspicion would cloud many of his performances before this, chief among them his win against Cotto.  In a recent head-to-head interview for HBO (YouTube credit: merck191), Cotto accused Margarito of cheating during their first fight and while Margarito’s denials were vociferous, it’s fair to say that they fell on many deaf ears.

Cotto believes he was cheated that night, and he is looking for revenge. However, he has not been the same fighter in the intervening period (unsurprisingly) so will face a tough test. Margarito has taken his own beating, against Manny Pacquiao last time out, and will be looking to bounce back from that comprehensive loss.

With emotions running so high, and the stakes even higher, it promises to be an intriguing battle in which neither man will take a step backwards. Cotto seeks vengeance, Margarito redemption and genuine animosity will ensure that both will do all they can to achieve their goal. I fancy Cotto to win – after all, don’t the good guys always end up on top?

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While Cotto-Margarito headlines Saturday night’s card in New York, there are three other contests – all of which deserve watching. The main draw is another rematch, between Pawel Wolak and Delvin Rodriguez.  This is their second fight of 2011 – the first occurred in July and is one of the best fights seen for a long time – while Wolak’s eye when the contest ended is already an iconic image.

YouTube credit: zakir371

Mike Jones, the exciting young American, will look for a 26th straight win while Brit John Murray fights Brandon Rios looking to win a version of the World Lightweight Title. Rios, who could have a case to be named as Fighter of the Year with a win, has failed to make the weight limit so cannot win the belt and also owes his opponent $20,000 as a result.

In California, Abner Mares fights Joseph Agbeko while in Finland, Dereck Chisora will be looking to clinch the European Heavyweight title when he fights Robert Helenius. That card also sees Alexander Povetkin take on Canadian Cedric Boswell.

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World Middleweight Titlist Felix Sturm returned to the ring on Friday, five months after his controversial and close win against our own Matthew Macklin.  Again, the German was in a close decision – this time the judges scored his fight against Manchester’s Martin Murray as a draw.

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The result was probably a fair one – Sturm may have even done enough to be disappointed with the decision – but again the difficulty of getting an ‘away’ decision in boxing was highlighted, and is something the sport needs to eradicate.

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This Week In Boxing History

With John Murray and Dereck Chisora preparing for away days, both can look back into the annals of boxing history for inspiration from their fellow countrymen. Lloyd Honeyghan’s 1986 win over Donald Curry remains storied in this part of the world and so too does the win for John H. Stracey over Jose Napoles on December 6, 1975.

Fighting the Cuban in his adopted home of Mexico City, few gave Stracey a hope – this diminished even further when he hit the canvas in Round 1. Thereafter though, he was the stronger fighter until the referee intervened to save Mantequilla from further punishment in Round 6. Napoles would retire immediately, with 78 wins from 85 fights, and certainly will be remembered in a way that Brandon Rios and Robert Helenius could only imagine.

YouTube credit: FightFranchise

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Gavin Grace

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