December 4, 2011

Redemption & Revenge: Cotto & Mares win without controversy!

Revenge for Cotto (Image Chris Farina)

By Jeffrey Freeman -- On a big weekend of boxing that featured highly anticipated rematches running simultaneously on HBO PPV and Showtime, it was sweet revenge for Miguel Cotto against Antonio Margarito and some much needed redemption for Abner Mares against Joseph Agbeko.

Defending WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto defeated Antonio Margarito by 10th round TKO when it was determined by ringside physicians that Margarito's badly cut and swollen right eye was too bad of an injury for him to continue getting beaten up by Miguel Cotto after nine rounds had been completed.

Could Antonio Margarito have continued the fight and gone the distance? Probably, but cooler heads prevailed and somebody finally stepped in to protect Margarito not merely from Miguel Cotto but from himself. With the win, Cotto now has his revenge over the man many suspect used illegal hand wraps to defeat him by brutal 11th round TKO in 2008.

The rematch was a good fight, not a great one and forgive me if I suggest that something was missing this time around. For Margacheato, that something might have been the plaster in his gloves while for Cotto it might have been the satisfaction of laying Margarito out on his shield once and for all. For boxing fans, that something might have been the high drama and ensuing controversy stirred up the first time these two met. If their first fight was a modern boxing classic as was suggested at the time by HBO's Max Kellerman, the rematch was more of a modern boxing clinic. With no controversy to be found anywhere at Madison Square Garden on this night, what we were left with was a very business-like Miguel Cotto outboxing and outpunching Antonio Margarito for most of the nine rounds while Margarito did his best impression of a smirking punching bag with cornrows.

A defiant villain to the very end, the defeated Margarito never broke kayfabe as he again insulted Cotto during his post-fight interview saying through a translator, "He punches like a girl." Cotto, more stoic and obviously savoring his victory, took the high road by saying simply, "Margarito means nothing to me."

With the win, Cotto improved to 37-2 w 30 KOs while Margarito falls to 38-8 w/ 27 KOs.

On Showtime, IBF bantamweight champion Abner Mares gained a measure of much needed redemption in defeating Joseph Agbeko by a wide unanimous decision in a fight that featured no significant fouls, no bad calls by referee Lou Moret, and no drama on the scorecards. In other words, it was nothing like their foul-filled first fight. Mares kept his punches up for the majority of the night and in doing so he out-hustled Joseph Agbeko over twelve rounds despite suffering a very nasty gash over his right eye early in the fight, the result of a sharp Agbeko left jab. With blood flowing freely all night from Mares' eye, both fighters fought well throughout the contest and there were some fierce exchanges in the final two rounds of the fight.

Redemption for Mares (Image Tom Casino)
When it was over, both fighters were still standing and it was clear that Mares had done more than enough to win the fight though the unanimous scores of 118-110 from all three judges seemed a bit overgenerous to Mares. No matter the official scores, the right man had won and had done so in as uncontroversial a fashion as could possibly be expected given what took place the first time they fought under the incompetence of Russell Mora.

Mares retains his IBF bantamweight title successfully for the first time and he improved to 23-0 w/ 13 KOs while Agbeko falls to 28-4 w/ 22 KO's.

For the vanquished King Kong Agbeko, it's back to the drawing board. For IBF bantamweight champion Abner Mares, a unification fight with WBA bantamweight champion Anselmo Moreno now looms. "Chemito" Moreno, making his United States coming out party a successful one, looked very sharp on the Showtime undercard in defeating Vic Darchinyan by unanimous decision in defense of his WBA "Super" title. The winner of a potential Mares-Anselmo fight would then have to be recognized as the best bantamweight in the world, particularly with the impending departure of P4P star Nonito Doniare from that division.

Officially, the Showtime Bantamweight tournament is now complete but it cannot truly be considered finished until tournament winner Abner Mares faces the highly talented Anselmo Moreno in a much needed bantamweight unification fight!