Friday, January 23, 2009

Fedor & Margarito: Combat's Unstoppable Surge

In the world of modern professional combat sports, few fighters have been feared and touted as boxing's Antonio Margarito and MMA's Fedor Emelianenko. Of the two, Feodr's aura of invincibility has remained unperturbed by the hands, and feet, of other opponent's.

Not the Margarito is viewed as vulnerable, especially after the thorough thrashing he gave top contender Miguel Cotto. But it's hard to be viewed as unbeatable when he had already been beaten by a decent, if not completely imposing figure in Daniel Santos (who, by the way, is enjoying his own resurgence at jr. middleweight). But ever since he marched toward welterweight supremacy, he has seemed unbeatable. A fact that Paul Williams would relish in disputing sooner rather than later.

Fedor, who is built more like a full-time dock worker rather than the supreme reckoning force of heavyweight MMA, always looks like the flabby underdog but always wins like the sculpted gladiator. He faces another fighter who has knockout power and respectable ground skills in the spartan built, Andrei Arlovski. These Asian fighters will fight for universal acceptance in a sport where Brock Lesnar, a former WWE pro wrestler, is the reigning king in the UFC. Arlovski possesses dangerous hands whereas Arlovski possesses one of the better chins and scramble skills in recent memory. The winner of this fight enters the realm where only a select few fighters ever enter: The world of the "Dream Fight."

It may well to be boxing's rival in the 100+ million dollar PPV arena. Maybe.

One boxer who has not captured the PPV imagination in the same vein as say, former P-4-P king Floyd Mayweather Jr., Margarito has captured the hearts of boxing fans with his straight forward style. A rugged fighter who isn't afraid to digest pain almost as well as he regurgitates it toward his opponents.

His fight with Cotto did two things for Margarito. It showed his strength as a fighter and his weakness as a solo box-office draw.

Margarito is not a flamboyant personality. He is a malevolent figure in the ring and becomes a brute with a few angles. But he is not multi-faceted enough to draw in those fans who will forever be dazzled by style infinitely more than substance; something which Margarito possesses in abundance. Another fighter who mirrored Margarito in his prime is his opponent, Sugar Shane Mosley.

Like Margarito, Mosley was a force who needed an opponent to bring out the box-office dollars. That opponent is now a faded Oscar De La Hoya. Mosley will attempt to stop a fighter who cannot be stopped. Margarito will attempt to bully a fighter who refuses to back down even when defeat is guaranteed. Ask Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright. The winner of this fight throws their bruised knuckles into the ring for a chance to enter the Ricky Hatton/Manny Pacquaio sweepstakes.

Only one fighter in each combat section gets to move forward while the other one becomes a gate keeper. at best. And only one will gain, or maintain, that aura of stamped approval.

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