Cotto’s nose was broken, he had been knocked down once and taken a knee once, and blood dripped down his face from a deep gash over his left eye by the time the bout ended at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“That was a very sad night for me. Miguel wasn’t crying tears. The tears coming out of Miguel’s eyes that night weren’t normal. They were tears of blood. You had to see it,” the champion’s father, Miguel Cotto Sr., was quoted on HBO’s 24/7 documentary.
“Bleeding out of his nose, bleeding out of his ears. You had to see how deep his wounds were. It’s impossible to explain. I couldn’t explain how someone with gloves could do that.”
Although illegal plaster was found in Margarito’s hand wrappings and removed prior to his ninth-round knockout loss to Shane Mosley in his next fight in January of 2009, no one is sure whether or not Margarito was dirty when he faced Cotto.
The 30-year-old Cotto (36-2, 30 KOs) will get a shot at redemption against the 33-year-old former three-time beltwinner Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) in defense of his junior middleweight belt on Dec. 3 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
A Puerto Rican native, Cotto has been a big draw in New York owing to the large Puerto Rican population in the area.
Cotto is 8-0 with four knockouts overall in New York, and 6-0 at Madison Square Garden, where he has decisioned former world titleholders Mosley, Joshua Clottey and Paulie Malignaggi, .and knocked out Zab Judah.
Two fights ago, Cotto dethroned Yuri Foreman as WBA junior middleweight titleholder at Yankee Stadium in New York in June of last year. Cotto made the first defense of his belt with a 12th-round stoppage of ex-beltholder Ricardo Mayorga in March.
The Foreman bout was Cotto’s first under Manny Steward, who replaced trainer Joe Santiago, and his first without Miguel Sr., whose died in January of last year.
It had been Miguel Sr.’s decision to replace Evangalista Cotto, Cotto’s uncle, with Santiago, blaming his brother for not examining Margarito’s gloves prior to facing his son.
During a Tuesday press conference in New York promoting their HBO Pay Per View-televised bout,Cotto revealed that he was sent photos of the wraps that were removed from Margarito’s hands prior to the Mosley fight.
“It was after the Mosley fight.[Margarito's loss.] It’s just a picture that was sent to my corner. I’m a boxer, and you never see the tape breaking like that. You don’t have tape over your knuckles like that,” said Cotto of Margarito, who is coming off of November’s unanimous decision loss to Manny Pacquiao.
“You’re supposed to try to beat your opponent with your skills and your conditioning. But if this picture that someone sent to me is real, then you’re playing with my health. That’s not fair.”
Below are some of Cotto’s comments from Tuesday’s press conference:
“I have something extra. He beat me for the first time in my career three years ago. That’s extra momentum for this fight.”
On the handwraps allegation against Margarito:
“Anything I can tell you is I ran out of gas after the sixth or seventh round. I handled the situation like a man. I just accepted my defeat and tried to get better. Sometimes when you lose, you win. I rest my case.
“You never heard something about the handwraps coming out of my mouth? The thing about the handwraps in 2008 is a chapter that is closed in my book.
“This is another chapter. I just noticed when the fight was over that my swelling over my face, and I had received punches in fights before, but it was never like that when this fight was over.”
On the fact that no one went into Margarito’s dressing room to check wraps:
“So we don’t send anybody to their dressing room and I agreed. There was an agreement on the whole thing from me.”
On his reaction upon seeing photos of the handwraps taken from Margarito’s hands prior to the Mosley fight.
“You don’t have tape over your knuckles like that. I saw the photos about a month ago. It was after the Mosley fight.[Margarito's loss.] It’s just a picture that was sent to my corner.
“You’re supposed to try to beat your opponent with your skills and your conditioning. But if this picture that someone sent to me is real, then you’re playing with my health.
“That’s not fair. That means something more than just a fight. It’s the first time I’ve shown this picture to anyone. That just gives me the opportunity to use it to my benefit.”
On his personal feelings about Margarito:
On watching the replays of their first fight:
On fighting in New York as opposed to Las Vegas:
“Here [in New York,] I feel like I’m at home. I’ve had my best performances here in New York.”
On the potential for fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr.:
On the loss to Manny Pacquiao:
“I had a very serious injury in 2001. And I had another surgery before the Foreman fight on my rotator cuff. I never like to complain about injuries, but I always like to be ready. You have to be ready no matter what.”
On how much longer he will fight:
“When this feeling gets over I will do something else…We’ve seen a lot of boxers say I’m quitting and two or three years past and they come back. I don’t want to do that. So when it’s over, it’s over.”
MIGUEL COTTO’S FIGHTS IN NEW YORK:
Waklimi Young, UD 4, Hammerstein Ballroom, April 28, 2001
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com