Margarito made the fight even more personal with one of his next sentences, which referenced Cotto’s violent separation from uncle and former trainer, Evangelista Cotto, in April 2009.
That encounter ended with Evangelista Cotto’s hospitalization from an apparent beating by Miguel Cotto, this, after having thrown a brick at the fighter only to have it break a window in Cotto’s Jaguar.
“I’ve been called a criminal by this man next to me,” said Margarito, directing his glare at Cotto, who was about four feet to his right. “I don’t know why he calls me a criminal. I am not a person that beats up on his own family members.”
Cotto has said of Margarito that he would “take advantage of his eye like he took advantage of the plaster.”
Margarito had a response to that as well.
“You say that you’re not going to have any mercy on my eye? Well you can hit my eye as many times as you want to. You hit like a little girl. A super flyweight hits harder than you,” said Margarito.
“If you want to take it personal, well, I’m taking it very personal too. You can do whatever you want. He’s not going to beat me at all. Never. I’m very confident with my preparation. I’m better than I was the first time.”
And then, it was Cotto’s turn at the microphone, for which Cotto, who speaks English, summoned Top Rank Inc. translator, Ricardo Jiminez.
“First of all, I want to thank everybody for being here. Ricardo?” said Cotto. “I’m going to talk in Spanish for Antonio to receive the direct message and so that he can understand it all.”
Cotto then directed a sizzling glare at Margarito.
“You are a criminal. If you don’t know what a criminal means, then you can look it up in the dictionary. It’s someone who uses a weapon. On [HBO] Faceoff, we spoke about the wraps,” said Cotto.
“I asked you about it and I even showed you a picture of it. You’re an embarrassment to boxing. On Saturday night, you’re going to see what this little girl is going to do to you.”
At that point, Arum modified the traditional post-fight staredown by basically eliminating it.
“The fighters answered questions during earlier one-on-one sessions,” said Arum, “and we’re going to pose the fighters together with this 80-year-old ex-lawyer between them.”
While cameras clicked, Arum stood between the fighters for about a minute and later explained the reasoning behind his actions.
“These guys are professionals, but why fuel it any further, you know? Everybody knows what this is,” said Arum. “So why do they have to have a faceoff? Besides, I didn’t want either of them to do anything that was stupid.”
IS COTTO BOXING’S ALL-TIME DRAW IN NEW YORK?
Cotto is 8-0 with four knockouts overall, and, 6-0 at Madison Square Garden, and Magarito is 1-0 with a first-round stoppage.
“We’re going to do research that since this building opened in the late 1960s, We believe that Miguel Cotto has sold more tickets for fights in this building than any other fighter, including Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Roberto Duran or anybody.”
“For the first time that it was [Top Rank President] Todd [duBoef's] idea that New York was not that much different than Puerto Rico, and started having Miguel fight on a regular basis in [New York,] the results here have been absolutely spectacular. In a way, Miguel is a hometown fighter. He’s had some of his greatest successes here in the Big Apple and in Madison Square Garden.”
Waklimi Young, UD 4, Hammerstein Ballroom, April 28, 2001
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org