By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Antonio Margarito embraced his role as the villain even more Wednesday during a final press conference for his rematch with Miguel Cotto on Saturday night.
“Here comes the criminal,” Margarito said after reaching the microphone in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. “Open the door for the criminal.”
Margarito managed to make their grudge rematch more personal, too, by referencing the infamous fight Cotto had with his uncle and former trainer Evangelista Cotto in April 2009.
Cotto fired his uncle following that incident, during which Evangelista Cotto reportedly threw a cement block at Miguel Cotto. It missed Miguel Cotto, but reportedly broke a window in his Jaguar. Evangelista Cotto suffered minor injuries in the fight, but ended up in the hospital.
“I’ve been called a criminal by this man next to me,” Margarito said regarding Cotto. “I don’t know why he calls me a criminal. I am not a person that beats up on his own family.”
Margarito’s remark drew oohs and aahs from those in attendance, but Cotto remained calm as one of boxing’s most controversial figures spoke a few feet from where Cotto was seated.
“They say that I’m not a great person, that I’m not a gentleman,” Margarito continued. “I don’t know why they say that.”
Margarito then mocked Cotto some more, noting that he isn’t worried about Cotto targeting his surgically repaired right eye in their 12-round fight for Cotto’s WBA super welterweight title.
“He says he’s not going to have no mercy on my eye,” Margarito said. “He can hit my eye as many times as he wants. He hits like a little girl. A super flyweight hits harder. He wants to take it personal. I’ll take it very personal, too. Do whatever you want. He’s not going to beat me at all. Never. Never.”
The grudge rematch between Puerto Rico’s Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) and Mexico’s Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs, 1 NC) will headline a four-fight HBO Pay-Per-View telecast from what figures to be a sold-out Madison Square Garden.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.