On December 3, the show will go on at Madison Square Garden.
In the wake of arguments which began at a hearing before the New York State Athletic Commision last Wednesday, and culminated with an hour and a half of deliberation on Tuesday, ex-titleholder Antonio Margarito was cleared for his license to face Miguel Cotto in an HBO Pay Per View-televised rematch on Dec. 3.
The decision ended a day during which Cotto (36-2, 29 knockouts) had vowed during a national conference call not to fight Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) in any other state if Margarito was not approved by the NYSAC due to the fighter’s medical records relating to his severely damaged right eye.
The eye injury 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 was examined on Monday by a Manhattan-based, commission-designated opthalmologist, Dr. Michael T. Goldstein, who determined that Margarito was fit to fight.
Based on Goldstein’s assertion, a three-member committee, including NYSAC chairwoman Melvina Lathan, voted unanimously to grant a license to Margarito, who dethroned Cotto as WBA welterweight beltholder by 11th-round knockout in July of 2008.
In the event that Margarito had not been granted a license, Top Rank Inc. CEO Bob Arum had planned to move Cotto-Margarito II and its entire card to another state.
Cowboys Stadium in Texas had been a leading candidate before a conflict developed, as well as the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., or the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Ariz..
“All’s well that ends well. And the people who will benefit the most are the fans. The main event will be a great fight between Margarito and Cotto,” said an elated Arum. “And there’s an unbelievable undercard. It will be the card of the year.”
Lathan has been counseled by commission lawyers not to comment, but Margarito’s attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, expressed disappointment with the length of the process.
“We feel very relieved for Tony’s sake, because he’s been put through the ringer, and unnecessarilyo so,” said Petrocelli, of the Los Angeles-based O’Melveny and Myers law firm, who prepresented Margarito along with David Marroso.
“This process was very torturous and frankly not fair, but at least the result was right at the end. I thought that the process was flawed, and that it never should have gone this far.”
Prior to being checked out by Goldstein, Arum said Margarito had also been examined and determined to be battle-healthy earlier on Monday by New York-based Dr. Kenneth J. Rosenthal, who is president of the New York Intraocular Lens Implant Society.
At the John Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, in May, Margarito had surgery to remove a cataract, during which Dr. Alan S. Crandall placed an artificial lens into his eye.
“I just had confidence that the kid was okay. I took him to the best doctor in the world, Dr. Crandall, and he’s the one who did the operation. Crandall did my eyes, and he did [Arum's wife'] eyes, so I know how good he is. He’s got an unbelievable reputation,” said Arum.
“We flew Antonio in, even though the commission had a doctor appointed, we took him to see doctor Rosenthal at NYU, who is a huge, huge expert and the biggest in New York. He passed him. And then, Goldstein passed him. When Goldstein testified before the commission today and he said of Antonio that the man is fit to fight.”