Malignaggi thinks Cotto will win decision

He has tangled with Miguel Cotto in Madison Square Garden, and made the Puerto Rican work his tail off to win a UD12. But Paulie Malignaggi, the Bensonhurst hitter who is now living in L.A., isn't holding that 2006 loss against his conqueror.

"It's tough to beat Cotto in the Garden," he said, referring to the fact that 90 percent of the fans will be rooting for Cotto. "It's a tough crowd, and a tough fight. I like Cotto by unanimous decision."

His manager, Anthony Catanzaro, also went with Cotto.

"Emotionally, I think with the rest of everyone in world I'm going with Cotto. There's history there with Paulie and Jose Miguel Cotto, besides being justice, he's the all around better fighter.

"Yes, Margarito is bigger. Yes, it's a pro-Puerto Rican crowd in MSG rooting for Miguel. Hopefully the better man on that night is Miguel, in a good fight. If it's a late-round knockout, I'm not going to complain. I think Top Rank put him in the lion's den in the Garden. If he's the Miguel Cotto we think he is still, he will really put a beating on Tony."

Middleweight contender Matthew Macklin, an Irishman living in Manhattan, is also tipping toward Cotto.

"I think Miguel wins the fight," he said. "In the first one, the first five or six rounds he boxed really well. Then he took a lot of flak for quitting. That makes more sense coming out about the plaster. He got his heart broken, he quit, but there were other reasons for that.

"I don't think he'll quit in this one. I think he'll be able to sustain what he did in the first five or six and be able to box his head off. I think Margarito has gone downhill since that fight and the beating he got from Pacquiao. He could be damaged goods."

The trainer for Carl Froch, who meets Andre Ward in A,C, on Dec. 17, is another one leaning to Cotto.

"My gut instinct goes Cotto," said ex-boxer Robert McCracken. "He's been boxing more. He'll train more diligently, be fierce in preparing."

I shared my thought, that my gut tells me that the right eye of Margarito, which has been operated on three times in six months, will prove problematic for him. McCracken said he didn't think so, that fighters of this ilk are "fighting machines." I stand by my inkling.

McCracken explained to me why time off hurts a boxer. I think Margarito's forced hiatus and time off due to injury will affect him.

"Timing is a problem. You feel the punches more, the training more. The speed and timing is not quite what it was. That's what happens to boxers unless you live in gym day in and day like Floyd does. I think it'll be very tough on the night for a few round for Cotto, then he will land the better shots and he'll pull away."

Readers, please feel free to leave your predictions.