After the Margarito bout, Cotto began rebuilding. Still scoring that big fight against Pacquiao, but enduring another brutal stoppage. Cotto now wore the label of “beatable.” He would fight on, making several adjustments such as a move up in weight class and bringing in guru trainer Emmanuelle Steward. The moves would pay off as Cotto won more fights, another title and returned to a degree of legitimacy.
Post Cotto, Margarito was quite simply “the man,” but it would be short-lived. Margarito would score a mega pay-day against “Sugar” Shane Mosley and some controversy to go with it. Before the Mosley bout a routine pre-fight inspection of Margarito’s hand wraps proved to be anything but when an illegal substance was discovered in Margarito’s hand wraps. In short, it was believed he attempted to fight with loaded gloves – the ultimate boxing taboo. Many consider the sport to be dangerous enough. A move like this is considered sacrilege because it can literally kill the opposition. Fortunately, the danger was averted and Mosley went on to knock out Margarito that night. However, questions arose. Was this successfully attempted before? Did Margarito employ this tactic in the Cotto fight? Did it explain the uncharacteristic beating Cotto suffered? Margarito and his trainer denied knowledge of the attempt, but they were both suspended from the sport. Margarito was eventually re-instated and also landed a fight with Pacquiao, but like Cotto he too suffered a beating that resulted in a broken eye-socket – a career threatening injury.
Today both fighters find themselves at a crossroads, they both need one another to move forward. For Cotto, it erases some demons and possibly proves he was a victim in 2008 and not a loser. A victory, surely would secure him future big fights. For Margarito, it’s the chance to prove that he beat Cotto fair and square, more importantly it prevents him from being relegated to “journeyman” status or worse yet “cheater.” Not just for their countries, but for themselves as men. Now, more than ever, they need each other to define their careers.
So what are their chances? Both men face certain disadvantages coming into the bout. For Cotto, he will be fighting without his previous trainer Emmanuelle Steward who is credited with righting the Cotto ship. Steward was viewed by many as a key factor in the Cotto revival as he who knows how to analyze the opposition and make adjustments to strategy necessary to pull out a “W.” His absence may loom large. Then there’s also the ghost of Vegas past. Cotto did suffer one hell of a thrashing in their first fight. What happens when Margarito lands a few blows or wins a few consecutive rounds? Will Cotto get flashbacks and revert back to 2008?
For Margarito, he enters the ring with an eye-socket that may not be 100% healed. The injury was of such great concern that the New York State Athletic Commission held a hearing to determine his eligibility to fight. Though the license was granted, if Cotto targets that area, will he be able to sustain the repeated attacks? Then there is the question of the hand wraps. If Margarito did have this secret weapon in the first match, he will surely be without them on December 3rd. Is he the same fighter without the loaded gloves? He sure didn’t seem like it against Mosley. Finally, Margarito is leaving Las Vegas for the bright lights of New York City – Cotto’s home turf. No West Coast judges to possibly taint a decision and more importantly Madison Square Garden will look like the Puerto Rican Day Parade in December as you can be certain that thousands of Boricuas will turn out to cheer their current favorite son, giving Cotto a home field advantage.
Getcha’ popcorn ready people. Because regardless of the outcome, it’s gonna be one hell of a Saturday night.