By Rick Reeno

A lot has been written about the shambled negotiations for a welterweight encounter between WBA champion Antonio Margarito and challenger “Sugar” Shane Mosley.  The two sides, Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, were in talks for the last few weeks, working hard to reach a deal for a Margarito-Mosley headliner on January 24 in Las Vegas, with HBO televising.

The deal-breaker was not the license fee of $4 million dollars being offered by HBO. The deal-breaker was Mosley’s position of not backing away from a 50-50 split of money.  According to Margarito’s co-manager, Sergio Diaz, Top Rank was on their side with respect to Margarito receiving a bigger portion of the purse. Diaz tells that a fight with Mosley can still be made, for the January date - if Mosley backs away from his position of receiving a 50% split.

“Mosley said that Tony pissed his pants and that’s true, but it was not out of fear. He pissed his pants from laughter after he was told what the split would be. This time Top Rank and Team Margarito are on the same page. It’s time Antonio started getting what is due to him. When you have a guy like Mosley that was beaten by the guy who we knocked out in July, telling us that we have to take 50% of the purse, it turned everyone off, including the fighter,” Diaz said. “Antonio is not afraid of Mosley. There is still time to make the fight. There is time, but not a lot of it and we are not going to make it for 50-50.”

Diaz says the attendance numbers are on their side, stating that Margarito is a big draw among Mexican fans in California and Las Vegas, while Mosley has never been a big ticket seller.

“We went to see Mosley’s fight against Mayorga in the Home Depot center and the place was empty. There were like 2,000 people in the damn stadium. Nobody even cared about the fight. Tony walks in and the place goes crazy. With a Mosley-Margarito fight, all of the Mexicans are behind Margarito and will travel down to the arena to cheer him on. 80% of the crowd will be Margarito fans and 20% will be Mosley fans, and it doesn’t matter where it happens - in California and Las Vegas. For them to ask for a 50-50 split - it’s not appealing for Top Rank and Margarito to move forward with this fight,” Diaz said.

“When Mosley fought Oscar, it was Oscar pulling in the people. Mosley, during his whole career, he was never a guy to pull in tickets. When Margarito beat Kermit Cintron the first time, Mosley was on the undercard. We went after Mosley then and he turned the fight down. This fight can happen, but the other side is not budging to make the fight happen.”

Margarito agrees with his manager. After struggling for years to make a name for himself, his career defining moment took place in July when he knocked out Miguel Cotto before a packed house in Las Vegas. He believes that he paid his dues to make the big money and shouldn’t have to provide a guy like Mosley, near the end of his career, with a 50% split.

“I understand the economy.  Golden Boy and Team Mosley should understand that I’m the one who is pulling in the people. Mosley has never pulled in people. We saw him in the home depot center and that place was empty. Two years ago when I was a world champion, I wasn’t getting my respect and my due, Margarito said.

“I beat the guy that the majority of the people didn’t think I was going to beat. I beat Cotto and took the purse that was offered to show HBO, the promoters and the people, what I was made of and to show that I can do it. I knocked out Cotto and it’s still the same for me.”

Diaz tells BoxingScene that it’s time for Margarito to make the big money after years of taking whatever came his way. They know Mosley is past his prime, but they still see him as a risk - especially with  potential rematch with Miguel Cotto in play for next summer.

According to Diaz, they don’t want to make the same mistake as Kelly Pavlik, who faced an aging fighter like Bernard Hopkins, also for a 50-50 split, and was unexpectedly dominated for twelve-rounds.  The loss threw Hopkins right back in the mix for bigger paydays, and Pavlik was immediately out of the running to fight Joe Calzaghe in 2009. Diaz doesn’t see Mosley beating his fighter, but he does see the same kind of risk involved. If Margarito beats Mosley, people will say that he beat an “old” fighter who is past his best. If Mosley beats Margarito, he catapults his career right back to the top.

“Tony took small purse after small purse to get himself to where he’s at. Does he need to take this fight for $2 million and take the risk of losing and jeopardize the bigger money which is against Cotto. The risk is not worth the reward. If we win they will say Mosley is old, and if we lose - people will say ‘why did we make that decision.’ For them, they are back in play with a win,” Diaz said. “Look what happened to Kelly Pavlik and Bernard Hopkins. Who thought that was going to happen? I know I didn’t.”

Another issue they had to consider when making their decision on the offer to fight Mosley was the possibility of the Cotto rematch happening sooner than later. Diaz has heard rumors that Cotto and his team are having their own issues as far as money for their February ring return and may consider pushing up the planned June rematch with Margarito. Team Margarito see Cotto as their biggest money option, unless Mr. De La Hoya comes calling.

“I heard that Team Cotto has already asked about making this fight even sooner. Me and Antonio have talked about it and if they want to do it sooner, then lets do it in February. If they want that fight now, if they want to step in the ring with Margarito early - Tony said ‘lets do that, why wait to June.’ I’m hearing that Cotto is not happy with the offer and I’ve read in a few places that he would rather just go and fight Margarito, and we are open to that.”

If Margarito wants the big money, there is a $4 million dollar offer from promoter Dan Goossen for a rematch with Paul Williams. A Margarito-Williams rematch is one of the biggest fights that can be made at welterweight. Williams won a decision over Margarito in 2007 to capture the WBO title.

Diaz tells BoxingScene that he spoke with Top Rank head honcho, Bob Arum, about the possibility of staging a rematch with Williams. Arum advised him that Goossen never presented a formal offer of $4 million dollars.

“We spoke to our promoter about the Williams fight and no formal offer was ever made. I can go on the internet and say we offered any amount of money for whatever fighter. Bob told us there was no formal offer made - it was just an internet offer,” Diaz said.

The scenario right now is for Margarito to return in January, possibly in Mexico or California. Top Tank is making plans for Cotto to return on February 21 at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The Cotto bout will be part of a Top Rank promoted split-feed pay-per-view with Kelly Pavlik in the co-main event, defending his middleweight titles against Marco Antonio Rubio at the Chevy Center in Youngstown, Ohio.  Provided that Margarito and Cotto win their interim fights, the rematch would proceed in early June.

Rick Reeno is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Comments/questions can be submitted to