By Michael Marley
They may be grasping at straws but Mexican veteran Antonio Margarito and members of his camp are putting a lot of emphasis on some words said by Saturday night Madison Square Garden rematch foe Miguel Cotto.
In recording the HBO "Faceoff" one on one interview with the two fighters, Mad Max Kellerman elicited one from both fighters as to what their physical limit is inside the ring.
Ever the dramatic warrior, Margarito said he is willing "to die" trying to win a fight.
The more pragmatic Cotto said he would not put his life on the line to do so.
Margarito trainer and ex-IBF junior lightweight champ Robert Garcia said Monday at the midtown Manhattan Kingsway Gym that the disparate answers are revealing as to the psyche of the two fighters.
"You see the difference," Garcia said. "What fighters do is to risk it all in there, that's why they are in boxing in the first place. Tony said he would risk his life but Cotto says no, it's not worth that price.
"All fighters get hit and get hurt but I can see what Cotto's saying, he's thinking of his family, sure. Before I heard that answer, Cotto was one of my favorite fighters, a warrior and a great fighter. He was one of my favorites for years. But now he's showing a little bit of age and maybe that's part of his answer also."
Margarito was more emphatetic to his foe, the Puerto Rican battler who continues to firmly believe that Tone Loc used illegally loaded handwraps to upset him in their first fight.
"I said I would (be willing to) die in the ring and I meant it," Margarito said. "But we've both got our families so I can understand why he is saying he would not be willing to die in a fight.
"We're different. Maybe Cotto will take a knee and I won't. I just know in this fight that I will beat him by knockout and they will take Cotto out of the ring on a stretcher."
But then the willing to die guy contradicted himself a bit. The Tijuana resident has issues getting his New York boxing license because of concern about an eye injury. He wasn't fully cleared by the state boxing board until last Friday.
If Margarito would risk his life, then risking his eyesight would be a given, right?
"I went to the eye doctor and he said I was 100 percent. If I was told by the doctor that fighting could cause me to lose my eyesight, then I would have retired. I would not be fighting again if that was my situation."
Even fight fans who can't agree on anything else can look at the resumes of Cotto and Margarito and concur that these two have risked more than enough on the job.
That's not liable to change in their rematch, on either side.
When it comes to inherent risk, Cotto and Margarito have always known and understood the code.
You could ask a guy named Manny Pacquiao for verification on that.