There was a sense of jubilation on Tuesday when it was revealed that the New York State Athletic Commission had approved the license of former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito, paving the way for his December 3rd rematch with Miguel Cotto to land inside of Madison Square Garden. Margarito had suffered a broken orbital bone in his face and developed a cataract in his right eye in a brutal points loss to Manny Pacquiao last year, leaving the commission with some hesitation towards approving him.
It seems fitting that the fight will take place in the Garden, as there will be a heavy contingent of Puerto Ricans in the building rooting on Cotto, who hails from the island's town of Caguas. Miguel suffered his first loss as a professional to Margarito in July of 2008 when he was stopped in the 11th round at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and will surely be drawing support from his rabid followers when the bell rings.
While several people breathed a sigh of relief upon Margarito’s approval, not everyone was taken back by the news. Trainer Danny Garcia, known best for his work with former champion Victor Ortiz, feels that staging the fight in New York won’t affect the outcome of the fight.
“Well, I don’t know about that,” Garcia said during our conversation. “That’s where Cotto wanted it but it’s not going to help anybody. A fight is a fight and the best guy is going to win. The better fighter is going to take it.”
The first Cotto-Margarito bout showcased a classic comeback by Margarito, as he overcame an early lead before eventually breaking Cotto down and dropping him twice late in the fight before registering the stoppage. Garcia was asked if that mental burden would be hard for Cotto to overcome but he quickly turned the tables.
“No. Not in this fight, because he knows and we all know that Margarito was using something in his hand wraps,” Garcia continued. “I think Cotto wants the fight real bad. He wants to beat Margarito and he’s going to be ready to do anything to beat him.”
True enough, one fight after his victory over Cotto, Margarito was found to have the tampered hand wraps that Garcia is referring to prior to his loss to Shane Mosley. A one-year suspension would hit the Tijuana fighter after the discovery and speculation ran wild as people fathomed if he also had illegal wraps during his victory over Cotto.
If so, Garcia feels we won’t be seeing the same fighter on the 3rd.
“Margarito is going to do the same thing but if he used something in his hand wraps the first time, and this second time he’s not going to have it again, he’s going to have problems on his mind. He’s going to feel weaker,” Garcia stated.
Garcia was reached for this interview for a particular reason, as his younger brother and fellow trainer Robert has been working with Margarito for the past three camps now. The relationship between the two men is often-strained these days, part of which is due to the fashion in which Ortiz, who used to work with Robert, elected to join forces with Danny a few years back.
Danny was asked if he still finds it in him to root for his sibling and offered up a response that wasn’t particularly convincing at first.
“Yeah, why not?” stated Garcia. “He’s my brother and it’s for his family and his kids, like me. We all work for our family and I wish him the best. He’s my brother and I hope he does good.”
Garcia’s star pupil Ortiz looks to be in line for January 28th rematch with Andre Berto, who he upset dramatically earlier this year to capture the WBC welterweight championship before losing it to Floyd Mayweather in his following bout. Garcia noted that he has been working with Ortiz sparingly but expects him to fully dive into camp in a few days’ time.
There definitely is a little bad blood left over from the first fight and Berto and his trainer Tony Morgan have expressed a different level of confidence heading into the second fight.
But it simply won’t matter, says Garcia.
“I just think Victor is the better fighter and we’re going to beat him again. Because we already did and it wasn’t even close.”