BY Michael Woods ON June 07, 2007

Miguel Cotto is on the cusp of entering into another sphere of popularity and a higher earnings bracket.

Zab Judah is on the cusp of becoming a gatekeeper, and dropping down a level in earning power.

The stakes are high in the main event at Madison Square Garden on Saturday evening, as Puerto Rico's latest pugilistic poster boy,  and Brownsville, Brooklyn's boxing bad boy square off in front of a packed house of partisan rooters. The TSS Prediction squad offers their take on the forthcoming fistic festival.

Jason Gonzalez:  Although Judah has shown to be a front runner in the past, this time around I am expecting him to come out of the gate slowly just to throw Cotto off. Something tells me that Cotto is anticipating Judah to jump all over him and drop grenades on his head. Remember this is your typical bull [Cotto] versus matador [Judah] type of match-up. Would you want to collide head on with the bull or rather have him come to you so that you can make him miss? Judah does have the edge in speed and in power. But, the only difference here, is that this fight is at 147 pounds and not 140. Cotto would fade late in fights as a junior welter. Welterweight is a different ball game. Cotto is much stronger. Judah will conserve his energy for the later rounds but Cotto has shown to get stronger as the fight progress into the later rounds. Cotto is relentless, while Judah has shown to give up on trying to win if he gets hurt in a fight. I am expecting Judah to be HURT a lot in this contest. Think back to when Judah fought Floyd Mayweather. It wasn't 'til Mayweather went to Judah's body that we saw Judah hurt and on the verge of being knocked out. Cotto's bread and butter is his body punching. Judah will win about four or five rounds before he falls prey to Cotto's pressure. The body punching will wear Judah down, ultimately being stopped in the 9th round. Don't be surprised if Judah is ahead on the scorecards before Cotto stops him. I am also expecting Judah to leave Madison Square Garden with two fractured ribs as well.
Mike Lynch: It's nearly impossible to not like Cotto in this fight since Zab Judah makes it difficult to invest any sort of trust in him. Cotto is unbeaten, with an impressive 24 KOs in his 29 bouts, but he's yet to see anyone with Judah's chops. If we're lucky, Judah will come out ready to rock and we'll get a great show. Cotto is a powerful puncher, but I am not entirely convinced that it translates as well at 147 as it did at 140. Luckily for him, though, Judah takes punches about as well as an extra in an old Western. At any rate, I like Cotto by late KO or by UD. I would, however, advise him to try and take care of business early because Judah's world class in the ring aside from his extreme aversion to contact.

Joe Rein: A fresh Judah’s all speed, angles and lightning lefts – a cock-sure

front-runner. It didn’t work against Tszyu.  It won’t against Cotto, albeit with some shaky moments.  He’s too solid, too poised.  When Zab’s flash ‘n’ blitz doesn’t end it quick, and he tastes one left hook, he’ll get on his horse and wait for Divine guidance.  Without technique or durability, he’ll only manage to fend off the inevitable until he’s crumpled for good against the ropes in the ninth.

Michael Woods: As always, I start a prediction putting forth my most pressing wish for the fight--I wish for an action and drama filled contest. And since we got combustible Judah in the fray at MSG Saturday, let me clarify by adding that I'm not rooting for extracurricular foolishness type drama. I believe that we may well see the best Judah that exists against Cotto. I may be swayed by hype, I can be prone to that, but the Brownsville badboy has to know that his chances for meaningful, mega-money matches are dwindling. He's the underdog here, same as he was entering the Mayweather match, so he's riled on account of that. His lefty stance, with his top tier hand and foot speed, and head movement, will not make this an easy night for Cotto. Cotto loves to drop down and deliver the left hook to the body and Judah will be able to counter that with straight rights. I think he may even wobble Cotto once or twice. Bottom lining it--the Garden's gonna be steamy, and electric, and Cotto will be the best Cotto that exists, and Judah will be the best that Judah exists, and it will be a compelling tussle, with the Puerto Rican digging deep, seeing just how much heart and desire he possesses. Cotto, TKO, 9.

Phil Woolever: The odds on Judah getting through the fight without some sort of freak out are 50-50, but barring that unlikelihood, my hunch is that Judah makes it a very tough night for Cotto, falling just short. The Puerto Rican holiday is not only a perfect background for hype, it's also a wellspring of motivation. Cotto may win big, but he won't win easy.

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