By Luis Sandoval
We all had something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving when the New York State Athletic Commission ruled in favor of giving Antonio Margarito his boxing license in order to face WBA Champion Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden on December 3rd. The newest and final installment of Cotto-Margarito 24/7 gave us a great insider’s look into the whole situation but most importantly, it showed us just how personal this fight truly is.
We open with the NYSAC’s decision to have Margarito’s eye evaluated by a doctor of their choosing in order to determine if he’s fit to be in the ring. While Top Rank worried about their fighter getting cleared to fight, Margarito was back at camp continuing to work. The eye is not a problem for Team Margarito as trainer Robert Garcia actually encourages their sparring partners to attack the eye since they know Cotto will. Left hooks will come aplenty and Garcia wants Margarito to work on dealing with them in sparring since he definitely will have to on fight night.
We learn Miguel Cotto’s new trainer, Pedro Diaz, defected from Cuba 3 years ago after being in charge of the Cuban Amateur team for 2 decades. He left behind his wife and 2 kids but it’s a sacrifice that he says was necessary and does not regret. Many didn’t think it was a good idea for Cotto to switch trainers especially for a fight as big as this one. Diaz will have a huge task at hand as his professional experience isn’t nearly as impressive as his amateur one. But a win here will give him a great start and name recognition on his professional resume.
Back in Mexico, we see Margarito partaking in some boxing fitness exercises meant to work on his legs and build speed. If the Mexican pressure fighter needs anything, it’s to be in excellent shape as his stamina is vital to be able to give his opponent as little breathing room as possible on fight night.
His camp however is interrupted as he must make the trip to New York to have his eye evaluated in order to be granted his boxing license. The 30 hour back and forth trip is one Margarito would prefer not to make but understands it’s necessary. After arriving in New York, he’s evaluated first by Top Rank’s doctors to give them assurance before heading to the real exam that will determine his eligibility to be licensed.
Back in Orlando, Cotto’s wife and kids arrive as they are reunited for the first time in 5 weeks. Hearing his wife Melissa reflect on her husband’s first fight with Margarito is a clear indication this fight is personal to everyone involved - not just the fighters. That night is a memory that still haunts her and admits has scarred her and her family. When it comes to Margarito, she feels anger and rather not even give him any thought as he does not deserve it. Much like her husband, she’s convinced Margarito used plaster in the fight and feels he played with Miguel’s life. Animosity runs deep and goes to show the personal level this fight truly carries.
We are taken to the day the NYSAC commission rules in favor to license Margarito and for the fight to carry on as originally planned. The only thing worse than the NYSAC putting the fight in jeopardy to begin with was Carl Moretti’s exaggerated acting job when finding out the fight would go on.
The New York skyline and bird’s eye view of Madison Square Garden almost gives you chills as we all know this is where the fight truly belongs. Margarito going into the lion’s den as Cotto goes for redemption is a classic setting for hopefully another classic fight.
“I don’t feel any respect for him, you know. And I’m going to take advantage of his eye, like he took advantage of the plaster” says a confident Cotto.
“F*ck Cotto. If he thinks that I had plaster, it will hurt like I was using plaster. And he will know it” said an irate Margarito.
It was another great episode with real storylines that have to do with the fight. While this series only ran 2 episodes, it maybe a realization that this is how the series should be.
More condensed installments seem to be key as there is usually a drop off or lack of things to cover going into the 3rd episode. If anything, HBO should continue what it did with Ortiz-Mayweather where the cameras continue to roll during fight week and after the fight. That’s just, if not more, important as the aftermath is what we’d really like see; especially for this fight.
The tension between both camps only seems to be escalating as the fight draws nearer. Those lucky to be in the arena on December 3rd will no doubt be treated to an electrifying atmosphere at the very least. And while we may be itching for a third episode of this series, just look on the bright side; we’ll get the actual fight next week.
You can follow Luis Sandoval on Twitter @truewest007. You can also tune in to Boxingscene’s official radio show The Boxing Lab every Tuesday from 6-8PM PST with hosts Ernest Gabion, Luis Sandoval, and Ryan Burton.