Not to be outdone tomorrow night by HBO, Showtime has a 1-2 combo for Saturday that might just knock out their opposition, and could be a serious contender for the best non-PPV, televised fight card of the year.
It's a double main event, with Antonio Margarito (33-4, 24 KOs) defending the WBO welterweight title against the Ghana/Brooklyn heavy hitter Joshua Clottey (29-1, 18 KOs), plus undefeated Puerto Rican stars Carlos Quintana (23-0, 18 KOs) and Miguel Cotto (27-0, 22 KOs) for the vacant WBA welterweight belt that Ricky Hatton decided he didn't much care to defend.
For Clottey, this is his chance at stardom. The only blemish on his record is an 11th round, DQ loss to Carlos Baldomir in England in 1999. At the time, Clottey was an undefeated, up-and-coming fighter, taking on an anonymous Argentinian with a 28-9-4 record. Basically, Clottey was handed a guy who was set up to be another victim. Instead, Clottey (who was ahead on all three cards) was disqualified for leading with his head. In retrospect, of course, having a loss to Baldomir on your record isn't so bad, but who knew then that Baldomir would be a world champion seven years later? And, again, Clottey was beating Baldomir. To this day, Clottey considers that fight a robbery, though he's very frequently been accused of what he was DQ'd for.
Clottey is getting this shot at Margarito for the obvious reasons: Bob Arum promotes both fighters, and Mayweather and Mosley passed on fighting Margarito, who has lost just one fight since 1996, and it was an incidental headbutt from Daniel Santos in 2004 that did it. Margarito was behind on two cards in the 10th round of a very competitive bout.
So, Margarito can't get the big boys, and Clottey has yet to truly establish himself over his 11-year career. It's a recipe for a dynamite fight. Margarito has been hyped as the new most ducked boxer on the planet, following in the footsteps of guys like Quartey and Winky -- who will be on HBO, of course -- along with countless others. In the cases of Quartey and Winky, it was valid. It appears to be so with Margarito, as well.
Clottey, though, has punching power. They don't call him "The Hitter" for nothing. And Clottey has clawed his way back up for seven long years after the Baldomir fight to get this opportunity. He was 22 and rising when that happened. He's 29 now. There's no doubt that Clottey is going to come out prepared. For Margarito, you might start to wonder if he's looking past Clottey, hopefully for a fight with Mosley down the line, or even waiting around to see what happens with the Pretty Boy or the Golden Boy. Margarito is past due for a big payday, and everyone knows that. But if Clottey beats him, he can kiss that chance goodbye for now.
It's a guy whose hype is that everyone is afraid of him (and Floyd turned down $8 million to fight Margarito, taking $12 million to fight Oscar -- hard to fault Floyd as a businessman) against a guy that nobody has paid a lot of attention to. Margarito is positioned as ignored, yet Clottey actually is.
In the other fight, Cotto is in the role of Margarito. Cotto, also promoted by Arum and Top Rank, has never lost a fight. Like Margarito, no one is exactly lining up to take him on. He went to war in June with Paulie Malignaggi, a 12-round unanimous decision win for Cotto. It was also the first time that Cotto, 26, had gone past the ninth round since 2004, when he beat Lovemore N'dou. For six fights, he knocked out his opponent in the ninth round or earlier, a list that includes then-undefeateds Ricardo Torres and Kelson Pinto.
Enter Carlos Quintana, who had quite a performance for himself in June, and also isn't foreign to unbeaten v. unbeaten fights. On June 24, Quintana completely dominated the much-hyped Joel Julio, beating him by unanimous decision. Quintana simply beat Julio, and he did so with relative ease. Quintana exposed Julio badly and seemed to ruin his confidence during the fight, and maybe did so to this day. Joel returned to the ring in October and barely got past Cosme Rivera, who came in at 30-9-2.
Like Margarito, Cotto seems to be the favorite of most people, though on this one, I have to go against what I've seen as the grain. Quintana is 30 years old, he's not a young fighter that's bound to get rattled. He's been around and been in some fights, and he's won them all. And if anyone doubted Quintana's pedigree before June, I don't see how they can now.
As for picks across the board tomorrow, I'm going with Wright, Lacy, Margarito and Quintana, but I think we are in store for four very good fights, even the Lacy fight, the sleeper of the night.
All in all, Saturday night is shaping up to be a hell of an evening for fight fans. We here at Bad Left Hook cordially invite you to join us for both cards, HBO and Showtime, with live, round-by-round coverage of Margarito v. Clottey, Quintana v. Cotto, Wright v. Quartey and Lacy v. Tsypko. We'll see you tomorrow night.