New York, NY - The most anticipated rematch in recent years will take place December 3rd at Madison Square Garden when WBA Super Welterweight World Champion Miguel Cotto (36-2, 29 KO's) defends his title against 3 time World Champion Antonio Margarito (38-7 27 KO's). When they faced each other for the first time in July of 2008, both fighters had been at the top of their games and dominating their divisions. Cotto was undefeated coming off impressive, convincing wins over Zab Judah, Sugar Shane Mosley and Alfonso Gomez. Margarito rebounded after losing the WBO World Title in a unanimous decision to Paul Williams. He captured the vacant WBO Intercontinental World Title by knocking down Golden Johnson 3 times in the first round on the under-card of Cotto/Mosley, setting up the IBF Welterweight World Title against Kermit Cintron. Margarito stopped Cintron in the 6th round thus setting up the fight with Cotto.
No one thought the outcome of their fight would have lasting effects on both fighters. Neither have been the same since. Cotto had established himself as a fighter who could not only take a punch, but could inflict damage as well. He showed that he could adjust to his opponent, evidenced by how he out jabbed Mosley the entire fight. Even though many questioned Margarito's chin, his relentless style and punching power was something to watch.
The fight turned out to be one of the most action packed fights of 2008 with Cotto taking the early rounds. Margarito's patience paid off as he pressed Cotto with powerful right uppercuts sending Cotto to the canvas twice in the 11th round. Cotto's corner would throw in the towel as a bloodied and swollen Cotto would lose for the first time in his career.
Thinking and hoping that win would catapult Margarito to the next level, he faced Mosley in what would be the start of controversy regarding the wrapping of Margarito's gloves. Prior to the fight, members of Mosely's team discovered Margarito's gloves were wrapped with illegal substances. No one knows if that gave Mosely added incentive, but Mosely went on to knock Margarito down in the 8th round and ended the fight in the 9th on a TKO. Cotto went on to win 4 of his 5 next fights but just as Margarito took a beating against Mosely, they both took a beating against Manny Pacquiao.
Both fighters attended the press conference last month at the Edison Ballroom in midtown and the focus of the questions were about the first fight and whether or not the outcome had to do with Margarito's gloves possibly being doctored. Said Cotto, "the only people that can tell you if they use it (illegal wraps) that is him and the people on his team." Cotto refused to use that as a possible excuse for his loss but at one point, he showed a picture on his i-phone. One that was very revealing. In it, clear as day, is a picture of Margarito's hand without the glove on. The wrapping appears worn and chipped across parts of the knuckles. Cotto was incredulous in describing the picture as it was shown to the media. "I'm a boxer and I have never seen broken gauze broken like that. You don't have tape over your knuckles."
Antonio Margarito has always maintained his innocence going back as far as the first match with Cotto. After the revelations came to light in the Mosely match, he was suspended for 1 year by the California State Athletic Commission. He claims to this day that he had no knowledge that the substance his trainer was using was illegal. The trainer, Javier Capetillo, took the blame claiming Margarito had nothing to do with what the gloves were wrapped with. Still, the damage had been done and many questioned Margarito's victories after the Cotto fight, especially after getting hammered by both Mosely and Pacquiao.
"The people have the right to their opinions but I know that I am a clean fighter," he said. When asked if he took this fight to prove that his gloves were not tainted, he said, "not at all. This is a great fight for the fans. This is an opportunity for myself to become world champion again."
Miguel Cotto has never seen the first fight against Antonio Margarito in its entirety. He plans to sit down and watch the fight during his training camp in order not to make the same mistakes. He never used the fact that Margarito's gloves may have been doctored as an excuse for losing the fight. "I never said anything about it. I just accept my defeat as a true defeat."
Antonio Margarito admitted that the beating he took at the hands of Pacquiao was the worst of his career. "He fractured my eye socket, he was the cause of me having me to stay out such a long time. I had to have surgery on my orbital bone." Still, he believes he can win another championship. "I've had some time off. I've been back in the gym. I feel mentally strong and physically strong."
Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito were at the top of their boxing games when they met 3 years ago. No one could have ever imagined the paths their careers would take after the outcome of that fight on that July night. One is fighting for revenge and the other is fighting for his reputation.