by Mark Mayer | Theres something about a Mexico vs Puerto Rico fight that creates an adrenalin rush. So it was for the 10,477 at MGM Grand Garden Arena last night and one relieved observer glad not to have wagered either on heavily-favored Miguel Cotto or a knockout before 1:30 of the 10th round. Neither happened, but it really mattered little. Bet or no bet, this was one great fight where the sport won.
In the end it was the new and previously unappreciated "Tijuana Tornado" Antonio Margarito whose endless pressure finally produced an 11th round TKO over previously unbeaten Miguel Cotto to capture the WBA welterweight championship. Margarito improved to 37-5 with 27 knockouts. Cotto, the pride of Puerto Rico, suffered his first loss in 33 decisions.
Some late money on the fight came in on Margarito, but the prices basically held firm through the week. Cotto had been a solid -240 favorite at MGM and closed at -230. Margarito was at +190 and closed at that price. The over / under was 9½ rounds with the over prevailing at -140. If you were lucky enough to have Margarito by knockout in 11, it paid 12-1 at the window. A Margarito knockout in any round was worth 7-2.
At the start of the 11th round, two judges scored the fight 96-94 for Margarito and one had it 95-95. Cotto was well ahead through six rounds, but Margaritos continual pressure started paying off with a big seventh and continued up until the stoppage when Cotto twice knelt to one knee and his handlers threw in the towel.
The loss for Cotto ended any chance for a planned megabucks matchup later this year with Oscar de la Hoya. A Margarito-de la Hoya match does not appear likely from the chatter after the fight. A possible matchup for Margarito is a revenge fight against WBO champion Paul Williams. As for now, this result leads into another matchup of top 147-pound welterweights next Saturday at the Palms between IBF champ Joshua Clottey and challenger Zab Judah. Clottey is a -270 favorite.