The Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., and the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Ariz., have emerged as the leading alternative sites to host the HBO Pay Per View-televised, Miguel Cottoto-Antonio Margarito rematch on Dec. 3, if in fact the card must be moved from the original venue of New York’s Madison Square Garden, according to a source familiar with the plans of Top Rank Inc.
The Garden site is being re-considered in the wake of the New York State Athletic Commission’s ruling on Friday that Margarito (38-7, 27 knockouts) must be examined by a commission-appointed physician in order to be granted a license to face RING No. 1-rated WBA junior middleweight beltholder Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) in their return bout.
The NYSAC originally denied Margarito a license on Oct. 31 due to complications from a serious eye injury that occurred during a November unanimous decision loss to Manny Pacquiao, against whom Margarito suffered a fractured right orbital bone that required surgery to repair.
Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum had also considered the Dallas Cowboys’ Stadium to be a leading candidate if Cotto-Margarito II had to be moved.
Arum, who turns 80 on Dec. 8, told RingTV.com on Friday that he would try to get Margarito checked out by the NYSAC’s physician in New York as early as this weekend.
Magarito has reportedly taken a private jet from his training camp in Mexico to make the appointment, will be examined on Monday, and will expect to hear the results and a decision announced on Tuesday.
Until a scheduling conflict surfaced, Arum had called The Dallas Cowboys stadium “our premium choice” as an alternative. Top Rank already had taken Pacquiao there for consecutive unanimous decisions victories over Joshua Clottey and Margarito in March and November.
The win over Clottey (35-4, 20 KOs) marked the debut of boxing at the stadium, which attracted some 55,000 fans.
Prior to the NYSAC’s ruling, all except around 1,500 tickets had been sold for the show at Madison Square Garden where Cotto — whom Margarito dethroned as welterweight beltholder by 11th-round knockout in July of 2008 — is extremely popular.
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 Clottey, Shane Mosley and Paulie Malignaggi, and knocked out Zab Judah.
Cotto-Margarito II is supported by a loaded undercard featuring RING No. 1-rated lightweight and WBA titleholder Brandon Rios (28-0-1, 21 KOs), unbeaten RING No. 8-rated Philadelphia welterweight Mike Jones (25-0, 19 KOs) and RING No. 10-rated New Jersey junior middleweight Pawel Wolak (19-1-1, 19 KOs) in a rematch of his sensational war with Delvin Rodriguez this past July.
Also to appear is Notre Dame graduate and ligth heavyweight prospect Mike Lee (7-0, 4 KOs) against an opponent to be determined.
Rios and Jones competed on the Pacquiao-Margarito show where Rios earned a fifth-round knockout over Omri Lowther, and Jones, a crowd-pleasing majority decision over Jesus Soto-Karass.
Jones will be in against Argentina’s Sebastian Lujan (38-5-2, 24 KOs) for the No. 1 spot in the IBF’s ratings, with the winner meeting IBF No. 2-rated Randall Bailey (42-7, 36 KOs) for the organization’s belt that was recently vacated by Andre Berto (28-1, 22 KOs).
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com