Having been examined by a Manhattan-based doctor on Monday who was appointed by the New York State Athletic Commission, Antonio Margarito has returned to training in Mexico, where he will await a Tuesday afternoon verdict by the NYSAC as to whether or not he will be granted a license to face WBA 154-pound beltholder Miguel Cottoto at Madison Square Garden in an HBO-Pay Per View televised rematch on Dec. 3.
Margarito’s fate will be determined by the findings of Dr. Michael T. Goldstein, a commission-designated opthalmologist whose testimony will be heard during a hearing by the NYSAC’s three-member committee, including chairwoman Melvina Lathan.
The commission 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.
Margarito eyes were nearly closed shut by the ninth round of his bout with Pacquiao, having absorbed a total of 474 blows, with 411 of them being power punches, according to CompuBox numbers.
On Friday, the NYSAC ruled that Margarito (38-7, 27 knockouts) had to be checked out by a designated physician, later named to be Goldstein, in order to be granted a license to face Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs), THE RING No. 1-rated junior middleweight, in their return bout.
The three-member committee will listen to testimony from Goldstein, deliberate during a subsequent executive session and then render a decision concerning Margarito’s status by deciding whether or not to license Margarito to fight.
According to a report by BoxingScene.com, Margarito’s promoter, Top Rank Inc., also had the fighter examined earlier on Monday by New York-based Dr. Kenneth J. Rosenthal, who is president of the New York Intraocular Lens Implant Society.
“He’s clearly a top-of-the-line surgeon who’s seen all this a thousand times,” Top Rank Inc. Vice President Carl Moretti told BoxingScene.com. “We saw him this morning. We had our own exam done. And in that one, he did great.”
At the John Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, in May, Margarito had surgery to removed a cataract, during which Dr. Alan S. Crandall placed an artificial lens into his eye.
Crandall then advised Margarito not to box again until December, but testified during an NYSAC hearing last Wednesday that Margarito’s eye was secure enough for him to return to boxing.
“We feel confident,” Moretti told BoxingScene.com.
If Margarito is not granted a license, Cotto-Margarito and its entire card will be moved to another venue. Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum had considered The Dallas Cowboys Stadium to be a leading candidate before a conflict developed.
It now appears that the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., or the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Ariz., have emerged as the leading alternative sites.
The Cotto-Margarito II undercard boasts 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).
Also to appear is Notre Dame graduate and ligthheavyweight prospect Mike Lee (7-0, 4 KOs) against an opponent to be determined.
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 being in line to meet 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).
Another rematch on the Cotto-Margarito II Wolak taking his unbeaten streak of 8-0-1, including five knockouts against Dominican-born Delvin Rodriguez (25-5-3, 14 KOs).
Wolak and Rodriguez battled to a majority draw in an exciting Fight of the Year candidate bout in July during which Wolak fought the entire second half of the fight while peering through severely cut and swollen eyes, the right side of his face marred by a softball-sized hematoma.
Cotto is immensly popular at Madison Square Garden, which was nearly sold out for his scheduled appearance.
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 was an unbeaten WBA welterweight titleholder before being battered, beaten bloody and dethroned following an 11th-round knockout loss to Margarito in July of 2008.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com