By Keith Idec
Antonio Margarito’s New York licensing saga is over, but another controversy related to his rematch against Miguel Cotto will not go away.
As the fighters prepare to head to New York for their Dec. 3 fight at Madison Square Garden, Cotto continues to call Margarito a “criminal” because the WBA super welterweight champion is certain his rival used illegal hand wraps during their first fight in July 2008. There’s no evidence Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs, 1 NC) had plaster-like pads in his hand wraps the night he stopped Cotto in the 11th round of their bloody brawl in Las Vegas, but the three-division champ is convinced his opponent cheated.
Cotto has repeatedly presented pictures of what he believes is a crack in Margarito’s hardened hand wraps, taken in the immediate aftermath of their WBA welterweight title fight at MGM Grand.
“Playing with the health of somebody else, of a human being, playing with his health, [is attempting] to kill, because he used plaster on his wraps,” Cotto said. “To me, that’s really like a criminal because he used a weapon. In this sport, you can only use your skills and your conditioning. If you have another name to call [Margarito, besides criminal], just please tell me what kind of [words] I can use.”
Mexico’s Margarito maintains his innocence, yet his victory over Cotto has been viewed suspiciously since he was caught trying to use illegal hand wraps prior to his ninth-round TKO loss to Shane Mosley nearly three years ago in Los Angeles. Puerto Rico’s Cotto claims he just wants to hear Margarito admit he cheated, nothing more.
“I just present this issue because I carried my defeat like a man for the last three years,” Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) said. “And he has to accept what they used from what they made. He wasn’t a man for using it. He has to be a man to accept it. That’s the thing I [request]. I didn’t ask for people to take out the defeat from my record, you know? That’s not an issue.”
The fighters figure to continue debating this serious issue once they arrive in New York for their HBO Pay-Per-View main event, a 12-rounder for Cotto’s WBA 154-pound crown.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.