by David P. Greisman
Veteran referee Kenny Bayless was the third man in the ring for the July 2008 fight between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, and three and a half years later he was at Madison Square Garden to watch the rematch from outside of the squared circle.
BoxingScene.com caught up with Bayless after the fight to get his quick, informed opinion on what he saw, and also on what he thought about the injury to Margarito’s right eye that led to Cotto’s technical knockout victory.
BoxingScene.com: What differences did you see between the fight that you officiated three and a half years ago and the fight that what happened in the rematch?
Bayless: “Basically I saw the exact same thing. The only difference is that Cotto was a little bit more focused, and he was consistent in what he did. He did not stand in the trenches and fight him. He just out-boxed him a little better this time than he did the last time.
“To me the fight was almost a carbon copy of the first fight. Cotto was just able to land sharper, quicker punches. He was able to keep Margarito coming forward like he did, but was able to get off before Margarito could retaliate.”
BoxingScene.com: I know you were from a different vantage point rather than being in the middle of the ring, but how much leeway do you think should’ve been given concerning Margarito’s eye and stopping the fight?
Bayless: “Well the eye started swelling up at around the third round. And from my viewpoint it was an issue of how many punches Margarito was absorbing. I believe it was from the seventh round on it was completely shut. So safety is always first. Though Margarito was still attacking Cotto, he was taking too many shots to the eye, to the head. A fighter has to be able to defend himself as well.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]