This time when Miguel Cotto meets Antonio Margarito he says there will be a difference. They will meet again at Madison Square Garden in New York City on December 3rd, a fight televised on HBO Pay-Per-View at 153 pounds. There will be intense scrutiny by the New York state Athletic Commission when Margarito gets his hands wrapped and puts the gloves on. That was established Tuesday afternoon in New York City at the Edison Ballroom, the second stop of a three-day four-city tour that also includes Puerto Rico, Los Angeles and Mexico City.
“The thing with Margarito was 2008 the chapter that was closed in that book,” commented Cotto about the first fight in July 2008. That is a night that saw Cotto with a battered face, dethroned of the WBA welterweight title in the 11th round. The result was talk about Cotto being done, that he no longer had it. Cotto would rebound later, and Margarito, after winning the title from Shane Mosely, would eventually see his boxing license suspended for using tainted hand wraps under his gloves.
So a lot transpired since their first encounter. Both fighters went to war with Manny Pacquiao and Cotto, quietly had been seeking this rematch for revenge. He leaves business to the promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank and in the last year made it known that Margarito is what he wanted, and at Madison Square Garden his favorite venue where he is undefeated in six fights.
Though Cotto does admit he did have flaws in that first fight and will make no excuses or accusations that Margarito had tainted hand wraps then. But for the first time he showed writers a picture on his cell phone that was given to him earlier this year. It indicated a tear in the wrapped hands of Margarito. There was evidence of a tear with the tape and gauze. Again this was pure speculation by Cotto and he will not make accusations. However, the facts later on make one to believe that Margarito had an unfair advantage, even if Cotto that night was not at his best.
Margarito remains silent about the hand wrap controversy except when he is asked. “I never used any illegal bandages. I can’t change the opinions of everyone. I always fought clean. He claims to have paid his dues and the subject is a thing of the past. He is also promoted by Arum and never went against his Mexican fighter when it came to the hand wrap issue. A win this time would put everything in perspective. He takes care of business in New York and Antonio Margarito indeed has the number of Miguel Cotto. Though the early line favorite is Cotto gets a commanding win and vengeance for what happened a few years ago in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Arena.
“I accept my defeat like a man,” says Cotto about that uneventful evening in Las Vegas. “It’s the first time I show the pictures to anybody,” referring to the Margarito wraps. “I over trained and won’t make the same mistakes again. I will be watching the first fight again soon to see what I did wrong.” He did not have the veteran Emanuel Steward in his corner then and he will once again have him for the third time in his corner at the Garden.
Steward was able to correct some flaws when he worked with Cotto the first time in June of 2010 at Yankee Stadium, a Cotto 9th round TKO and defense of the WBA title over Yuri Foreman.
“He is sharp and will be ready at 154,” said Steward when reached for comment because was preparing Andy Lee for his rematch with Brian Vera. “Nothing will go wrong. We will watch the wraps and the gloves. Miguel has picked it up and learned what went wrong the first time.”
And with vengeance obviously on his mind, though Cotto will never show a vindictive trait, Margarito could see the same approach that was used in March. Ricardo Mayorga, saw enough punishment before being stopped by TKO in the 12th round in the WBA super world light middleweight title fight. Cotto was aggressive and finally put Mayorga on the mat in that final round. It was vintage Cotto, punching with authority, and throwing combinations that propelled him to be a three division world champion.
“I’m going to give it all my body and soul to make this a great match,” said Cotto, (36-2-28 KO’s) one of those in the loss column coming to Pacquiao. He reiterated, ”It’s going to be the same as last time but the ending will be different.” Meaning of course, the punishment this time will show on the face of Margarito who is fully recovered from an injured eye socket that occurred when he lost to Pacquiao last November.
Cotto insisted also that the fight be at 153. Margarito says that is unfair and that Cotto should be at 154. “If he is a real champion he should fight at 154,” says Margaritio. And Cotto would later respond that the weight was not an issue. His win over Margarito will tell the story that the first loss was because Margarito was with the advantage, once again briefly making reference to the hand wrap controversy.
“Boxing is a sport when you use your skills,” said Cotto. “He played with my health and that’s not fair.” The wraps for both fighters will be placed in a suitcase prior to the fight and inspected by the New York Commission at the weigh-in. So there could be an end to the issue about Antonio Margarito and hand wraps that have tarnished his career.
Arum stated the Garden has a record advance gate for the fight with an undercard that also includes the undefeated Mike Jones, another of the rising stars in the welterweight division and junior welterweight Pawel Wolak. And Cotto always sells out the Garden with a strong contingent of Puerto Rican fans from New York City.
But this is not about Puerto Rico against Mexico. It is the fight that Cotto wanted and he anticipates the coming months of training, saying he is a much more matured fighter with his new team under the direction of Steward.
“We accepted 153 because we don’t want Antonio Margarito to make any excuses,” says Cotto. Indeed this looks like it could be another chapter though this time a different and better one for Miguel Cotto.