By Keith Idec
The New York State Athletic Commission announced Friday afternoon during an executive session that Antonio Margarito will have to get examined by one of their doctors in order to secure a boxing license in the state. The commission has concerns over his surgically repaired right eye. Margarito, currently training in Mexico, would have to get examined on an immediate basis, as time is quickly running out.
The highly anticipated rematch against Miguel Cotto is still scheduled for Dec. 3, but the site may possibly move from Madison Square Garden to an undetermined location outside of New York. The nearby Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., is available that night, but it is not considered the front-runner to land the HBO Pay-Per-View card because of potential licensing issues in New Jersey.
Several sites in Mississippi, and Cowboys Stadium in Texas, are also being considered by executives at Top Rank Inc., which promotes Margarito and Cotto. Las Vegas, where their first fight was contested in July 2008, is not an option, according to Top Rank officials.
Top Rank's CEO, Bob Arum, has reportedly stated that Margarito is willing to travel to New York on short notice to get his eye examined. But, because of the distance involved, there has been some discussion about Margarito and the commission doctor holding the required examination at a more central location that benefits both sides. The end result of the eye examination will determine the fight's future in New York.
Though a lot marketing money already went into promoting this fight at a nearly sold-out Madison Square Garden, the three-member NYSAC rejected Margarito’s initial license application Oct. 31 because of his eye issues. The NYSAC held another three-hour, closed-door meeting Wednesday in which two leading eye specialists, brought in by Top Rank, testified in favor of licensing Margarito.
Mexico’s Margarito, 33, thought his career was over once he underwent surgery to repair a broken right orbital bone following the brutal beating he absorbed against Manny Pacquiao in their one-sided, 12-round fight last Nov. 13 in Arlington, Texas. His vision remained blurry for several months thereafter, but subsequent cataract surgery May 19 at the University of Utah’s John A. Moran Eye Center enabled Margarito to resume training and commit to his grudge rematch against Cotto. During the May procedure, Margarito had an artificial lens inserted in the eye.
He returned to boxing training in July and said after a Sept. 20 press conference in New York to promote the fight that, “I’m physically ready and I’m mentally ready.”
“The Tijuana Tornado” has visited Dr. Alan S. Crandall, who performed the cataract surgery, at least once a month in Salt Lake City since the procedure. Crandall testified before the NYSAC on Wednesday that Margarito should be allowed to fight Cotto because his right eye has been properly repaired.
This, of course, isn’t the first time licensing Margarito has become an issue.
He was suspended for a year by the California State Athletic Commission following his January 2009 hand-wrapping scandal in Los Angeles. Margarito maintains he didn’t know then-trainer Javier Capetillo placed illegal, plaster-like wraps on his hands as was getting ready to fight Shane Mosley at Staples Center.
Naazim Richardson, Mosley’s trainer, found the illegal wraps and Capetillo re-wrapped Margarito’s hands legally before the fight started. Mosley dominated Margarito en route to a ninth-round technical knockout win at Staples Center.
The maligned Margarito has boxed just twice since serving the suspension following the infamous Mosley fight nearly three years ago — once in Augacalientes, Mexico, and six months later against Pacquiao at Cowboys Stadium.
In his last bout before the Mosley mess, Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs, 1 NC) scored an 11th-round TKO victory over Puerto Rico’s Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs).
Critics began questioning the legitimacy of Margarito’s triumph in that bloody, brutal battle after the hand-wrapping scandal. Cotto himself has implied Margarito might not have played by the rules in their fight.
Wherever it takes place, the Cotto-Margarito rematch will be contested at a catch weight of 153 pounds, for Cotto’s WBA super welterweight title. Margarito won the WBA welterweight title from Cotto in their first fight.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.