NEW YORK - In 2006, Showtime continues to live up to its billing as America’s No. 1 Boxing Network by televising the most compelling championship fights on the first Saturday of every month. The memorable 20th anniversary year of Showtime Championship Boxing will conclude in sensational style on Saturday, Dec. 2, with an outstanding world championship doubleheader featuring two of boxing’s most dynamic performers, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, live at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
In the first of the two co-featured main events on SHOWTIME, Margarito (33-4, 1 NC, 24 KOs), the exciting, hard-hitting, World Boxing Organization (WBO) 147-pound champion will defend his crown against WBO No. 5 contender Joshua Clottey (30-1, 1 NC, 20 KOs).
The second championship bout of the night will pit undefeated Cotto (27-0, 22 KOs) against fellow undefeated Puerto Rican, southpaw Carlos Quintana (23-0, 18 KOs ), for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight title.
A bonafide superstar in the making, the popular, crowd-pleasing Cotto, of Caguas , Puerto Rico , was his country’s 2004 and ‘05 Fighter of the Year. After making six successful defenses of his WBO 140-pound title, Cotto will step up in weight to vie for the 147 pound belt recently vacated by Ricky Hatton. Cotto retained his championship in his last start when he recorded a scintillating 12-round unanimous decision over Paul Malignaggi on June 10, 2006, in New York .
Regarded as the greatest amateur boxer from Puerto Rico , Cotto was national champion at 132 pounds for four consecutive years (1997-2000) and represented his homeland at the 2000 Olympic Games at 139 pounds. In his first bout in Sydney , Australia , he lost a 17-7 decision to Uzbekistan’s Muhammad Abdullaev, who went on to win the gold medal. Cotto got his revenge when he defeated dominated Abdullaev in June 2005.
On Sept. 11, 2004, Cotto scored a sixth-round TKO over Kelson Pinto to capture the WBO belt in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico . Pinto had twice beaten Cotto as an amateur, but Cotto staggered his foe in the first and scored a knockdown a round later. After dropping Pinto in the fifth, Cotto recorded another knockdown in the sixth. Pinto’s corner threw in the towel to stop the fight at 2:28.
In his third WBO title defense, Cotto retained his crown with a ninth-round TKO over Abdullaev on June 11, 2005. On the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade before a raucous, predominantly Puerto Rican crowd that chanted Miguel’s name throughout, Cotto outclassed the challenger and caused his right eye to completely shut. The referee stopped the fight at 0:57 of the ninth round.
The next day, Cotto rode in the annual parade down 5th Avenue in New York City. Cotto almost had his parade rained on by Ricardo Torres. In one of 2005’s most exciting fights, Cotto scored a sensational seventh-round knockout over the previously unbeaten WBO No. 1 contender on Sept. 24 in Atlantic City .
In yet another dominating performance, on March 4, 2006, Cotto scored an eighth-round TKO over Gianluca Branco (36-1-1 going in) in Bayamon , Puerto Rico. Before a capacity crowd that chanted his name even during the undercard bouts, Cotto masterfully worked Branco up and down his body. In the eighth, Cotto landed a left hook to Branco’s right shoulder. Branco grabbed his shoulder in pain and turned away from the action. The referee stopped the fight at 0:49.
Cotto has fought a number of former world champions, including Cesar Bazan, Demetrio Ceballos, Carlos Maussa, Randall Bailey and DeMarcus “Chop Chop’’ Corley. He impressively knocked out Bailey and Corley in his initial two title defenses.
A lifelong resident of Moca, Puerto Rico , Quintana is one of eight children. The five-foot-nine-and-one-half inch boxer-puncher started to fight when he was 14 and went 46-4 in the amateurs before making his pro debut on June 14, 1997. All the while, Quintana played a lot of basketball. However, he gave up hoops after breaking two hands in 2001 that caused him to be inactive for eight months.
Quintana, who will turn 30 less than one month before the Dec. 2 telecast, bolted onto the boxing scene in his last start. In a WBA welterweight elimination bout on June 24, 2006, the undefeated brawler outclasssed Colombian phenom Joel Julio and registered a 12-round unanimous decision (118-110, 117-111 and 115-112). Quintana neutralized the strength of the power-punching Julio and rallied from a first-round knockdown to win.
Against Cotto, Quintana will have his first shot at a world title. Quintana has victories over other capable fighters, including a third-round knockout on March 5, 2004, over Edwin Cassiani, the Colombian known for knocking out former world champion Luis Collazo.
Until Julio, Quintana’s best performance was a fourth-round demolition of two-time Turkish Olympic representative Nurhan Suleymanoglu on Feb. 25, 2005. Quintana rocked Suleymanoglu several times in the fourth and scored a knockdown with a straight left hand. The referee stopped matters at 2:33. Another impressive result came when Quintana captured the WBO Latino belt on Feb. 24, 2006, by scoring a 10th-round TKO over Argentina ’s Raul Bejarano.
Regarding his upcoming bout against Cotto, Quintana says, “I hope that people from our country don’t see the fight in a bad light because two Puerto Ricans are fighting, and that everyone sees it from the point of view that the title remains in Puerto Rico .”
Margarito, of Tijuana, Mexico by way of Torrance, California will make his seventh WBO title defense. Arguably the most avoided boxer in the game today, the five-foot-11-inch, 28 year old is 7-1 with one no-contest in world title fights. He is co-managed by Francisco Espinoza and Sergio Diaz Jr. and trained by Javier Capetillo.
In his last start, Margarito knocked out Manuel Gomez in the first round on Feb. 18, 2006, in Las Vegas . It was in his outing before last, however, that Margarito stamped himself as not only one of the world’s premiere 147-pounders, but one of boxing’s best pound-for-pound. Margarito’s defense against previously unbeaten Kermit Cintron on April 23, 2005, in Las Vegas was a highly anticipated affair that figured to be a physical “Fight of the Year” candidate. Instead, the defending champion turned it into a one-sided, fifth-round TKO.
“It (the result) wasn’t a surprise at all,” said Margarito. “Cintron’s a strong kid, but he had not fought anyone even close to the level that I have fought. I was so sure of myself. I knew how it would work out.”
After turning pro at age 15, Margarito compiled a 9-3 record at the outset of his career. However, since October 1996, the reigning WBO champion has gone 24-1 with one no contest. The one loss during the past 10 years occurred when he moved up in weight to 154 pounds and challenged WBO junior middleweight champion Daniel Santos in September 2004.
Margarito rallied in the late rounds against Santos, but was cut badly over his right eye in the sixth by a clash of heads. Even though the challenger fought hard for the remainder of the fight, the doctor stopped matters on the cut in the early seconds of the 10th round and went to the scorecards. Although many ringsiders thought Margarito deserved to win, the judges scored it 86-85, 87-84 for Santos and 86-85 for Margarito.
In his third WBO title defense, Margarito recorded a second-round TKO over previously unbeaten Hercules Kyvelos on Jan. 31, 2004. In the second round, the champion floored Kyvelos flat on his side with a left uppercut. Kyvelos got up, but was unsteady and staggered backward into the ropes without a punch being thrown. Margarito attacked and the referee stopped the fight at 0:54.
On March 16, 2002, Margarito captured the vacant WBO welterweight title with a 10th-round TKO over Antonio Diaz. The fight was evenly scored after six rounds, but Margarito swept rounds seven, eight and nine on two scorecards, and gradually wore Diaz down. Margarito scored a knockdown in the 10th round with a series of uppercuts. After Diaz got up, Margarito rocked him several more times, and Diaz’ corner threw in the towel at 2:17. After nine rounds, Margarito led 87-84 twice and 86-85.
Clottey of New York City via Ghana is 10-0 with one no-contest since suffering his lone defeat in November 1999. The WBC Continental Americas super welterweight champion is a former NABC welterweight champion, former African welterweight champion and former Ghanian junior welterweight champion.
In November 1999, Clottey suffered his lone loss in a questionable 12th-round disqualification against Argentinian Carlos Baldomir. Clottey was penalized two points in the 10th round for an intentional head butt that cut Baldomir over his left eye. The referee warned Clottey again for leading with his head in the 11th round, but Joshua pressed in with his head down once more. He was disqualified at 2:30 for “continual use of the head.” Clottey was leading on the scorecards when he was DQ’d. “They robbed me,” Clottey said. “I was winning all the scorecards. That was a big robbery.”
After suffering his lone loss to Carlos Baldomir in November 1999, Clottey has won 10 consecutive bouts and vaulted into the top-10 rankings in three of the four major boxing organizations. On Dec. 3, 2005, Clottey won the WBC Continental Americas super welterweight title by scoring a 10-round unanimous decision (100-90 twice and 100-89) over Marcos Primera.
A native of Accra, Ghana, Joshua moved to New York in late 2003. During his amateur career, Clottey compiled a 45-4 record and reached the quarter-finals of the Commonwealth Games. Clottey is a member of the Ga tribe, a tribe of Ghanan warriors that includes Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, Ben “Wonder” Tackie, and many of the country’s other top boxers.