By Michael Marley
This tension-filled Antonio Margarito-Miguel Cotto Revenge Rematch isn't exactly Robert Garcia's first rodeo.
Not only is Garcia, a rising star among contemporary trainers, he is a former IBF junior lightweight champion who looked almost unbeatable until he ran into a wrecking machine named Diego Chico Corrales.
Garcia, who was trained by his now estranged brother Danny and their father Eduardo, was even able to overcome having the handicap of having a co-manager named Michael Marley.
Garcia basically grew up is his former fruit and vegetable picker father's musty, old gym in Oxnard, Calif.
Garcia's current ring stars included Pinoy sensation Nonito Donaire Jr., the revamped and resurrected Margarito and cocky, slugging lightweight champ, the aptly nicknamed Brandon Bam Bam Rios.
I asked Garcia after yesterday's poisonous verbal presser exchanges between Boricua Cotto and Tijuana resident Margarito if it was his fighter who had a chip on his shoulder even though he destroyed Cotto in their first fight. (Lingering suspicions of Margarito's handwraps being illegally loaded by ex-trainer Javier Capetillo persist. The belief by many is that, although Team Margarito only got nabbed before the Sugar Shane Mosley bout, cheating happend at other times.)
"Tony is laughing about this kind of talk," Garcia said. "If there's a guy with a chip on his shoulder, it's Cotto and not Tony. Cotto is the one who keeps bringing this up. He better be ready Saturday night because Tony is not going to box him, he's going to fight him."
Garcia said Margarito is right on schedule.
"My guy is 100 percent, ready to go," the trainer said. "Tony's going to get another victory over Miguel Cotto, I am sure."
Co-manager and cutman Francisco Espinoza has been in the Margarito camp for 14 years. They hooked up in border city Tijuana.
He knows that Cotto will be persistently attacking Margarito's eyes, particularly the right one in which an orbital bone was broken as Margarito got thrashed by Manny Pacquiao.
"I'm confident we will get a good referee," Espinoza said. "I am pretty sure they'll give us a good, experienced referee in this fight."
Espinoza said he also resented Cotto calling Margarito "a criminal."
The fact is no criminal charges were ever brought concerning the illegal handwraps Team Margarito tried to use for the Mosley bout, a fight in which Magarito took a shellacking.
"I see the attitude all on Cotto's side," Espinoza said. "The real criminal between these two is Miguel Cotto.
"He is the one who beat his uncle (in a brawl outside a gym in Puerto Rico) so he's the criminal person involved in this fight."
That reference goes back to April, 2009, when Cotto had a fight with his uncle and former trainer Evangelista.
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.
And the bad blood keeps on flowing.