There was a time not too long ago when
Not the welterweight division --
In fact, the only elite fighter who accepted Margarito's challenges was
It seemed impossible Margarito could lose his reputation for intimidation all in one night. But he did. That night came last July when Margarito, defending his IBF welterweight title against
"I wasn't into the fight for those first few rounds, and that cost me," Margarito said. "He wasn't hurting me. He was just throwing punches, and I let him throw punches because he wasn't hurting me. After I saw the tape I said, 'that's never going to happen to me again.'"
Margarito may have believed the Williams fight to be an aberration, but to the general public, it was the first sign of decline. (See, there is a price to be paid for spending the bulk of your career leading with your chin.)
Even though Margarito, 30, was still young by boxing standards, some in the sports' inner circle believed the inordinate amount of punishment Margarito had absorbed in his 14-year pro career meant his best days were behind him. It was as if a myth of Margarito had been dispelled in one fight.
Said Margarito, "I had a bad night."
Still, he would soldier on. Four months after losing his title to Williams, Margarito was back in the ring. Fighting on the Shane Mosley-
It was vintage Margarito. He endured shot after shot from the heavy handed Cintrón before eventually forcing his way inside and delivering a crushing body blow that sent Cintrón crumpling to the canvas. It was a win that re-established Margarito within the division.
"During [the Cintrón] fight, I had been telling people all along that I wanted to become a champion again," Margarito said. "As far as I am concerned, that is what the fight against Cintrón proved."
It did more than that. The win earned Margarito a shot against Cotto (32-0), who, with the retirement of Mayweather (however "Favre-ian" that retirement may be), is widely considered the top welterweight in boxing.
"It is the biggest fight of my career," declared Margarito. "Without a doubt, I think that winning this fight will move me to another level. I think it will fulfill some promises in my career."
Margarito-Cotto will be a contrast in styles. The compact Cotto has a prolific jab and is known as one of the fiercest body punchers in boxing. A longtime junior welterweight, Cotto outboxed Mosley last November before destroying former
To counter Cotto's boxing acumen, Margarito will attempt to turn the fight into a brawl and use his size advantage (Margarito is 5-foot-11; Cotto is 5-foot-7) to wear opponent down.
The strategy has worked on Cotto before. In 2005, he was floored by
"I feel that I will be pressuring him a lot," Margarito said. "I have a lot of power and I can do a lot of things as far as power is concerned. If [Cotto] boxes and tries not to come to me I will have to use my reach and height to make him fight."
If the boxer is forced to become the street fighter, it would work decidedly in Margarito's favor. And it could help him regain the reputation he lost a year ago.
"I am not sure what strategy Cotto will have for this fight," said Margarito. "I know that I am the type of fighter that throws a lot of punches and puts a lot of pressure on my opponent and we'll see how he comes out and how he reacts to it."