Mexico has a new boxing sensation, Antonio Margarito, also known as the "Tijuana Tornado." Margarito put away reigning WBA welterweight champ Miguel Cotto on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. I caught the last four rounds of the match at a nameless cantina in a Garibaldi alley, where the dude next to me kept saying this was the "fight of the year," given the national rivalry at play. Cotto, from Puerto Rico, walked into the fight unbeaten with 32 wins, most of them by knockouts. Margarito, born in Torrance and raised in Tijuana, was the consensus underdog to claim the WBA title. He had vacated the IBF title just so he could take on Cotto.
What happened? In the 11th round, after a relentless and smart assault from the 30-year-old "Tijuana Tornado," 27-year-old Cotto dropped to his knee twice, bloodied and beaten, forcing his corner to throw in the towel. Thrilling. Definitely read the BBC's stylish report on the bout, and Steve Bruce in The Independent. AP sports writer Greg Beacham declared that Margarito has "finally established himself as the meanest hombre in a division packed with tough talent." There's an opening in Mexico, Beacham noted, for a fresh boxing idol in that "boxing-mad nation." Maybe the ghost of Antonio's brother helped?
* Above, Cotto and Margarito, doing press for the match. Previously, "Boxing, borders, brotherhood: Meet the Molina twins."