RingTV.com: What transpired in Margarito’s corner that led to the fight being stopped?
SS: The conversation went as follows. Dr. [Anthony] Currerei had been monitoring Antonio’s eye for a good portion of the fight, I would say from about rounds 6 and 7 on there.
I noticed that they were getting quite serious about stopping it because the chief physician, Barry Jordan, then came over to the ring. That was after Round 9 and before the start of Round 10.
RingTV.com: What happened from there?
SS: I want to make clear that some articles had indicated that there was confusion in the corner. But the confusion, I created it. I take full responsibility for that.
For two reasons: In the state of New York, both the doctor and the referee can stop the fight. That’s very, very rare. Generally speaking your international bodies and a majority of your states, it’s the referee can stop the fight.
But that’s on the advice of the physcian. Very rarely will a referee go against the advice of a ringside doctor. But that just gives the referee a little insight in trying to avert the stoppage.
RingTV.com: What was the situation with Cotto-Margarito II?
SS: In this instance, when I gave pre-fight instructions, I went into Miguel’s dressing room. Pre-fight there was very light, and he was in a great mood. This was my third title fight with Miguel.
When we spoke this time, he wanted me to totally give him the instruction in English, and I said that I wished that I spoke Spanish as well as he spoke English.
The key element in Antonio Margarito’s dressing room was that I told him that from my perspective, he was a compete fighter.
I didn’t let the fact that there was pre-fight discussions about the eye influence me in any way shape or form. I indicated that to him both in Spanish and in English that he was a complete fighter.
He had two eyes, two fists, and the rest that goes along with it. I could see a change in his demeanor when I did that. He was releived. There was a sense of relief in his face.
On my way out, his trainer, Robert Garcia, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Steve, we’re very, very happy to have you as a referee,” which was very meaningful to me to think that I had put their corner at ease.
They felt like they were on a level playing field in New York.
RingTV.com: Back to the corner?
SS: I was very hesitant to stop the fight. In light of Antonio’s pleading, he really, really wanted one more round. And I don’t know about you, but I had sensed a little bit of a momentum shift.
I saw him catch Miguel with a couple of shots on the ropes that had me saying, “wow, his persistance is paying off.” And I would have loved to see him come out in the 10th. I really would have.
But, doctor Curreri, I was speaking with him, and Antonio and his corner was pleading, “Can we go forward,” and so forth. Doctor Jordan then made a sign with his index finger and his thumb, squeezing.
That meant that he was saying that the eye was closed. And then, he told me “Steve,” and with no uncertain terms, “Stop the fight.”