Let's dispense with the cordial pat on the gloves before the bell, and let the fists fly from the get-go.
Antonio Margarito doesn't deserve anybody's respect. He doesn't even deserve to be in the ring. He is boxing's dirty laundry, soiled and stained.
So please root for Miguel Cotto when he defends his super welterweight title against Margarito in New York on Dec. 3. It's game on, officially, after the New York State Athletic Commission on Tuesday deemed that Margarito was fit to fight despite some concerns over a surgically repaired right eye.
Margarito is now cleared to take a beating. A methodical, 12-round smackdown is probably better than a quick knockout. Let there be blood.
Margarito is a disgrace to the sport.
He deserves a lifetime ban from boxing.
I can't say with certainty that Margarito was a clueless bystander when his handlers put with Plaster of Paris in his gloves before Margarito fought Sugar Shane Mosley in January of 2009. Margarito's license was revoked for a year. Big whoop.
Some in the fight game — even Bob Arum, who is Cotto's promoter — are quick to absolve Margarito. But that goes against common sense. Margarito had to know, unless you want to give him a pass assuming Margarito closed his eyes while trainers loaded up his gloves.
This is the ultimate sin in boxing. It has destroyed lives and disgraced the sport. Billy Collins likely committed suicide by driving into a ditch after losing to Luis Resto, who used loaded gloves when they fought in 1983. The loss to Resto, a journeyman, stole a promising career away from Collins.
Margarito is either a moron or is in on the action. I'm going with the latter. And so is Cotto.
He is convinced that Margarito's crew was up the same illegal nonsense when the two men fought in July of 2008. In a recent episode of HBO's highly entertaining series, 24/7, Cotto compared a picture of the bloodied wraps in the Mosley fight to the ones used in his fight. Cotto sees them as one in the same, which also helps explain the beatdown he took at the hands of Margarito.
The 11th-round knockout was devastating, physically and emotionally. Blood oozed out of Cotto's nose and ears. Drained, he fell to the floor in his dressing room in tears. Cotto was secretly taken to a hospital that night. Cotto hurt so bad that his father climbed into his hospital bed, trying to comfort him.
Cotto revamped his inner circle after that night, feeling his people should have been more diligent before the fight. He fired his trainer, who also happened to be his uncle.
He has been training with Cuban defector Pedro Luis Díaz Benítez in Orlando the last few months.
"The photos don't lie," he told me Monday afternoon after a sparring session at the K.G. Boxing Club. "But that was three years ago. I am very clear, very confident, and very tranquil."
It's been a bittersweet road to revenge for Cotto. Miguel Cotto Sr. died in January of 2010 from respiratory failure, shortly after staggering out of his car and asking for help at a bar in Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Cotto is honoring his father with an image of his face etched in a tattoo on his left shoulder, which also bears the numbers 54/10, commemorating the year his father was born and the year he died.
It is much easier to root for a man who honors his father instead of a man who dishonors his name.
Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito is no contest.
Let there be blood.
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