In a terrific Wall Street Journal piece on Saturday's rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, written by Gordon Marino, Hall of Fame trainer and HBO analyst Emanuel Steward gave his thoughts on the fight:
"Miguel is faster and has the better skills," said Emanuel Steward, who once trained Cotto. "And as one of the most popular Puerto Rican fighters in history, he will have a huge Puerto Rican audience screaming for him in New York."
A Freud among boxing gurus, Steward then paused and said, "But psychologically you have to wonder whether or not the revenge element will be the main factor, or maybe Miguel will somewhere deep inside feel intimidated by the terrible beating he took last time. We'll see."
Honestly, I don't think it takes a "Freud among boxing gurus" to come up with these thoughts: Cotto is a more skilled fighter than Margarito, same as he was in 2008. But that psychological and mental edge is, I think, entirely with Margarito.
This reminds me of that whole off-putting debate about Miguel Cotto saying he's not willing to die in the ring, which I found to be just about the stupidest goddamn debate I've seen rational people have in a long while.
Here's my take on that (since I can't beat 'em, I'll join 'em): I think asking Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito the moronic question, "r u willing 2 die in the ring durrr," is a different question to each man. Margarito has that machismo-fueled "warrior mentality" when he says he would.
But then there's Cotto. This is a man who is, without question I believe, psychologically damaged from the first Margarito fight. Either because he truly believes that Margarito used plaster, which in turn makes him almost think that someone actually tried to kill him in the ring, or because he's not certain that Margarito used anything deep down, and that in itself is a tough thought; the idea that Margarito so viciously battered him without any illegal aid, just pure, old-fashioned boxing grittiness.
So when you ask Margarito, who doesn't have those doubts, whatever they are, swirling around in his head, "Would you die in the ring?" he'll say yes like most tough guy fighters would when put on the spot with that question. But I get the impression that Cotto has thought about it deeper than that -- and that it's not the same question to him that it is to most of these guys.
But anyway, I think Steward's analysis and concerns are pretty much spot-on, and you should read the WSJ article.