Lem Satterfield

Cotto-Margarito II conjures bloody memories, handwraps scandal

Miguel Cotto was an unbeaten WBA welterweight titleholder before being battered, beaten bloody and dethroned by an 11th-round knockout loss to Antonio Margarito in July of 2008.

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:


Miguel Cotto on his desire to avenge the first loss of his career:

“I am going to train with all of my heart and soul for this fight – and this time there is going to be a different winner. It’s my upcoming step of my career.

“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:

“The only people who can tell you is him and anyone on his team. But I’ve been the whole way a man. I’ve never said anything about it. I never commented on it. I just accepted my defeat. I just kept walking.

“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:

“That was a decision for the whole team, not just for my former trainer, who is my uncle. He said they didn’t send anybody to our dressing room.

“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.

“My reaction came when I saw this picture that people sent [goes to his phone] right after my fight. I’m a boxer and you never see the tape breaking like that.

“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:

“I don’t live with him. I’m not married to him. He’s just another human being. I don’t have to like him. I just have to face him on Dec. 3.”

On watching the replays of their first fight:

“I never saw this fight. Never. Never watched it. Some highlights, but not the whole fight. I just want to see the mistakes that I made that night and work on them and try not to bring it again.”


On whether or not Margarito is a different fighter than the last time considering the beatings in knockout losses to Mosley and Manny Pacquiao:

“He received a lot of punches from those guys. He didn’t look good in his last fight and I think I will take avantage of anything that I can.”

On fighting in New York as opposed to Las Vegas:

“In our first fight, I went to Vegas where people were for him. There were a lot of Mexicans there for him. I go to Vegas like another employee of Top Rank.

“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.:

“I’ll always be open to fighting the best in the business. If anybody can make a fight with Miguel Cotto it’s not because he doesn’t want to.”

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:

“I said six or seven years ago that when I was 30 that I was going to take myself away from boxing. I’m 30 and I’m still here. Things change. I’ve got more energy and more enthusiasm for being in the gym everyday.

“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
Muhammad Abdulaev, TKO 9, Madison Square Garden, June 11, 2005
Paulie Malignaggi, UD 12, Madison Square Garden, June 10, 2006
Zab Judah, TKO 11, Madison Square Garden, June 9, 2007
Shane Mosley, UD 12, Madison Square Garden, Nov. 10, 2007
Michael Jennings, TKO 5, Madison Square Garden, February 21, 2009
Joshua Clottey, SD 12, Madison Square Garden, June 13, 2009
Yuri Foreman, TKO 9, Yankee Stadium, June 5, 2010

 

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lem.satterfield@gmail.com

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