Lee Groves

10: Best Mexico vs. Puerto Rico fights

5. Antonio Margarito KO 11 Miguel Cotto I — July 26, 2008, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada

Promoter Bob Arum believed this match was sewn up for June 9, 2007 but Margarito, then the WBO welterweight titlist, chose instead to defend against mandatory challenger Paul Williams – and promptly lost. Since then Margarito turned knockout artist – some wonder if he did so legally – as he stopped Golden Johnson and Kermit Cintron while the undefeated Cotto disposed of Zab Judah, Shane Mosley and Alfonso Gomez to set up what many thought would be a classic slugfest.

Cotto entered the bout an 8-to-5 favorite and looked the part throughout most of the first six rounds. With the exception of round two, a brutal shootout, Cotto boxed well and at times brilliantly. His sharp punching and fluid movement effectively neutralized Margarito’s pressure tactics. Margarito never stopped coming, however, bloodying Cotto’s nose in the third and walking through the Puerto Rican’s shots as if they were pillows.

The momentum turned toward Margarito late in the sixth when the Mexican revved up his body attack and it swung completely in the seventh when a series of uppercuts stunned Cotto and brought a cascade of blood from the champ’s nose and mouth. Through all the battering Cotto still retained his accuracy and even produced a mini-rally in the 10th. But in the closing moments of the 10th Margarito hurt Cotto with a volley whose effects carried over to the 11th.

The Puerto Rican was now in survival mode and Margarito pounced at the sight of Cotto’s duress. A combination that included a pair of uppercuts caused Cotto to take a knee. After pushing himself up, the man known for his late-round heroics couldn’t summon another one. Instead, a battered and mentally spent Cotto retreated toward a corner pad and took another knee, prompting chief second and uncle Evangelisto Cotto to climb onto the ring apron and halt the slaughter. At the time of the stoppage Margarito led 96-94 on two cards while the other was even at 95.

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