By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Antonio Margarito condemned Miguel Cotto for refusing to fight him at the junior middleweight maximum of 154 pounds.
The contract weight for their Dec. 3 rematch at Madison Square Garden is 153 pounds. Cotto’s representatives initially tried to get Margarito to take the fight at 150, four full pounds below the usual limit for the WBA super welterweight title Cotto will defend against Margarito.
“I don’t know why Cotto wanted to make this fight at 150,” Margarito said through an interpreter. “Then it went to 152, and now 153. If he is a champion at 154, I think he should defend his title at 154. If not, come down to welterweight again. I don’t know why there [was talk] about having a weigh-in the day of the fight. There is an organization that does that, but not the WBA.”
Mexico’s Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs, 1 NC) turned down the fight when handlers for Puerto Rico’s Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) tried to force a 150-pound maximum. Margarito wasn’t interested in another offer, either, that would’ve required a 152-pound limit and a second weigh-in the day of the fight, at which neither fighter would’ve been able to weigh more than 160 pounds.
The two sides eventually settled on 153 pounds, with no second weigh-in. The 5-foot-7 Cotto, clearly concerned about the 5-11 Margarito being significantly bigger than him come fight night, reasoned that Margarito made the 150-pound limit for another super welterweight title fight against Manny Pacquiao.
“He made it for Pacquiao, 150,” Cotto said. “I thought 152 is no different, but we accepted 153 because after the end of the fight I don’t want Margarito to make any excuses. I just want the fight to be as equal as possible for us.”
Margarito was 5½ pounds heavier than Pacquiao (150-144) when they weighed in for a Nov. 13 fight in Arlington, Texas. Pacquiao pummeled Margarito anyway en route to a 12-round unanimous decision win.
“It’s a strategy for [Cotto] to get an advantage,” Margarito said. “I’m a big fighter. That’s why I left the welterweight division. I struggled to make welterweight toward the later part of my career. I’m a 154-pounder. This is the business of boxing. If you could get two or three [fewer] pounds [into the contract] and have me come in at 150, knowing that I’m a big guy, if I struggle it’s good for them. But we weren’t going to allow that to happen.”
Margarito stopped Cotto in the 11th round of their first fight. That July 2009 bout in Las Vegas was contested at 147 pounds, for the WBA welterweight title Margarito won from Cotto.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.