Bettors clearly believe that Miguel Cotto will retain his WBA welterweight title when he faces Antonio Margarito on Saturday in an HBO Pay-Per-View fight at the MGM Grand Garden.
The bout opened with Cotto as a little better than an 8-5 favorite. But he received so much action that he's shot up to nearly a 3-1 favorite. At the MGM sports book on Tuesday, Cotto was a minus-270 favorite, while Margarito was at plus-230.
The media's opinion is in line with the public's. Fight publicist Fred Sternburg conducted a poll and the overwhelming majority have selected Cotto to defeat Margarito and remain unbeaten.
Here is a sample of some of the picks and comments from that poll:
Tim Smith, New York Daily News – Cotto by decision: "Margarito has remade himself since the loss to Paul Williams, and I like the change. But he won't have enough for Cotto, who has evolved into a very polished boxer. He's like a five-tool baseball player. The best tool in his bag is a drill, which he will try to use often on Margarito. Margarito probably won't break, but he'll crack."
Ron Borges, The Sweet Science.com – Cotto by TKO: "Cotto by late stoppage on cuts. Margarito will have his moments and may even hurt Cotto at some point, but [Cotto's] superior movement, jab and technical skills will break Margarito down and, eventually, wear him down and wear him out."
Brian Doogan, London Sunday Times – Cotto by decision: " Cotto was vulnerable as a light welterweight but he has grown into a formidable welterweight and, while Margarito may prove to be resilient, I expect Cotto to be sharper and more damaging in his work."
Michael Katz, MaxBoxing.com – Cotto by decision: "This is indeed a terrific matchup. Cotto is the more talented, the more technically skilled, and has significant edges in speed and power. Margarito has tremendous character, which is not to say that Cotto does not. The 'Tijuana Tornado' can also take a shot, which means his chin conceivably could wear down Cotto's fists. Still, I have to give the edge to speed here and can see Cotto scoring a dominating victory, probably by points, but possibly by a late stoppage, and becoming another major rival for Manny Pacquiao for No. 1 pound-for-pound, along with Juan Manuel Marquez."
Nat Gottlieb, HBO.com – Margarito by TKO: "Margarito is the biggest welterweight Cotto has faced, and is in his prime, unlike Shane Mosley. He hits hard, has a four-inch height advantage, and six inches in reach. He has never been knocked out and can take anything Cotto throws at him."
We'll have plenty more on the Cotto-Margarito fight later in the week, including my column on Wednesday I gathered after spending a few days visiting Cotto's Caugus, Puerto Rico, home and training camp.
Now, though, it's time for your questions and my answers. As always, my answers are in italics.
After Margarito demolishes Cotto, will Cotto get an automatic rematch? I know if Cotto wins, he will not give Margarito a rematch. What do you think?
Top Rank president Todd duBoef said there is no rematch clause. However, if it's a great fight and does well on pay-per-view, I'd expect a rematch, even if it's not immediate. My guess is that the pay-per-view falls somewhere between 275,000 on the low side and 350,000 on the high side.
Where is the backlash against middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik for signing to fight Bernard Hopkins? Wasn't Floyd Mayweather Jr. demonized for fighting an aging Oscar De La Hoya? Oscar is considering fighting Manny Pacquiao. Manny would be moving up two weight classes to do that. Wasn't Floyd criticized for fighting Hatton, who moved up to 147? Is there a double standard in boxing that's overlooked by the media as a whole?
Tom, there simply is no qualified middleweight for Pavlik to fight. The division is that bad. The only fighter really worth a bout is Arthur Abraham, the IBF champion. But he's very unknown, so they're going to wait until early 2009 to make that bout. Pavlik tried to fight super middleweight and light heavyweight kingpin Joe Calzaghe, who declined. There is precious little talent in the division, so I think Pavlik is well within his means to fight Hopkins. Hopkins was the linear light heavyweight champion until his loss to Calzaghe in April and he routed Winky Wright as recently as last July. Mayweather was demonized for passing up credible opponents who were in his weight class, such as Cotto and Margarito. No one ripped him for fighting De La Hoya and Hatton, but he was ripped for fighting guys like a totally washed up Sharmba Mitchell and Henry Bruseles.
DE LA HOYA-PACQUIAO
Hi, Kevin. I'm an avid fan of you and your column. What are your comments regarding a Pacquiao-De La Hoya fight? I'd like to see these two great boxers fight. It would be a megabucks deal, for sure, and, a lot of fans would surely want to watch this fight. By the way, I'm a Pacman fan.
I think it's a ridiculous fight, given that Manny started as a 106-pounder and is currently fighting as a lightweight. But, I will agree that it will generate tremendous money and interest. If the bout does come off – and it's looking more and more like it will – then the outcome will depend upon how well Pacquiao overcomes the size disadvantage. I think Pacquiao has more left in the tank, but De La Hoya is a naturally much bigger man.
BRING BACK FLOYD
I know Floyd Mayweather is retired, but wouldn't it be great to see him versus Manny Pacquiao? Seeing two of the better fighters of this era square off in a mega-bout would be incredible. It would be bigger than Mayweather-De La Hoya. Can somebody please let Mayweather know? We are talking big bucks and I know Money loves money.
The man is retired. Leave him be.
GET RID OF SANCTIONING BODIES
Boxing has always navigated under a cloud of controversy. No matter what era, no matter what weight class, no matter who the outside-the-ring manipulators were, controversy has been a part of the game. But in 2008, shouldn't we demand better? Let's start with the ridiculous sanctioning bodies. These are manipulative groups that twist and control the pure essence of the sport. Each negates the value of the others' titleholders. They should be abolished. There should not be multiple boxing groups that create their own champions. True, boxing is a business, but it is also a sport and the fans deserve more. The shine and glory is gone.
I've long been against the sanctioning groups and their unethical and potentially illegal dealings. If I were the czar, they'd be gone. But if we could ask them to do one thing for the good of the sport, it would be to include other sanctioning bodies' champions in their ratings. As it is now, they refuse to recognize other organizations' champions in their rankings and it ultimately leads to a lot of the terrible mandatory challengers that so plague the sport.
RAIL AGAINST PPV
Bravo! I loved your piece on the problems with pay-per-view in boxing. I love the sport, but it almost requires a part-time job just to keep up with subscriptions to HBO, Showtime, and monthly PPVs at $49.99 a pop. I just can't do it anymore. I think it's arguable that Golden Boy has done more damage to the sport in its short time than good. Everything is PPV these days, and it's just not acceptable. Shane Mosley vs. Ricardo Mayorga? That's ESPN2, if you ask me. No one is asking for the fight, though it may be entertaining. Boycott I shall!
I hate pay-per-view with a passion, because each one just buries the sport more. It takes the sport farther and farther away from the mainstream. If the NFL put the Super Bowl on pay-per-view, it would instantly lose millions of viewers. And, long-term, that hurts the sport. Golden Boy certainly isn't the only promoter guilty of using too much pay-per-view, though. But there is good news: It appears that Golden Boy has decided to move the Mosley-Mayorga fight from Oct. 11 to Sept. 27 and it will then be on regular HBO.
NO MORE PPV
I'm afraid I've been one of boxing's worst enemies because up to about a year ago, I bought every pay-per-view there was to buy, regardless of the fighters or the quality of the matchups. I fell into the trap and I've fed the monster and I'm sorry for that. You are right when you talk about boycotts because it seems there is no other way for us boxing fans to make ourselves be heard. It hurts me to think that I have to stop watching boxing to help the sport we all love, but the way things are going, I see no other way out.
Here's what pay-per-view has done to boxing: On June 28, Manny Pacquiao, one of the game's biggest stars, fought on pay-per-view at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. It sold slightly more than 8,000 tickets with a paid gate of about $2.1 million. It did well under 200,00 pay-per-view sales, though it may reach 200,000 by the time the tallies are completed. The next week in the same building, the UFC sold out a card with a gate of $3.35 million and attendance over 11,000. It had so many people it opened closed circuit in the hotel to accommodate the overflow. Its pay-per-view numbers haven't been released, but it was definitely double what the Pacquiao fight did. This shows the result of what years and years of putting the best fights on pay-per-view has done to the business. If only the absolutely biggest fights went on pay-per-view, I'm sure there would be a surge in interest in boxing, because fans would have greater access to the many great bouts that are being staged.
LET'S SEE VALERO
When will we ever get to see some of Edwin Valero's fights? I hear a lot of positives about this 130-pound WBA champion and I'd love to see him fight. Do you think he gets enough credit for all the knockouts he has?
I think you'll see Valero on either HBO or Showtime sometime in the next six to nine months, now that he's cleared to fight in Texas and may be cleared to fight in other states. He was medically suspended by New York several years ago because of a brain injury he suffered in a motorcycle accident. But he was examined by doctors in Texas and deemed fit to fight. Given his exciting style and power, both HBO and Showtime are anxious to use him. He's promoted by Teiken Promotions, a Japanese company, and he frequently fights in Japan, which makes it difficult for either network to broadcast him here. But if he fights in the States, I think you'll get to see him.