Familiar rivals Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito prepare to hit the road, as a four-city tour to announce their December3 rematch at Madison Square Garden begins Monday in morning in Cotto’s native Puerto Rico. The tour also makes stops in New York City, Mexico City and Los Angeles.
The press conferences in Puerto Rico and Los Angeles are open to the public, with the New York City and Mexico City sessions limited to the media.
The dates and locations are as follows:
Monday, September 19 – Coliseo de Puerto Rico, Hato Rey, PR 11:30am (open to the public)
Tuesday, September 20 – New York, NY
Wednesday, September 21 – Mexico City, MX
Thursday, September 22 – Wilshire Grand Ballroom, Los Angeles, CA 12:30pm (open to the public)
The rematch comes more than three years after Margarito (38-7, 27KO) became the first to hang a loss on Cotto (36-2, 29KO) in their sensational war in Las Vegas. The event confirmed Cotto’s drawing power, pulling in an estimated 440,000 pay-per-view buys for their summer war
There was also concern that the fight cut short his physical prime, as suggested in his bloody, hard-fought split decision win over Joshua Clottey and subsequent knockout loss at the hands of pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao.
Cotto went on to capture alphabet hardware at super welterweight, stopping Yuri Foreman in nine rounds last June in a bout that headlined the first boxing card in the new Yankee Stadium. His lone title defense came earlier this year, scoring a 12th round stoppage over Ricardo Mayorga.
While the July ’08 event served as a career-defining win for Margarito, the rest of his career hasn’t quite followed suit.
Six months after stamping his arrival as the best welterweight on the planet, Margarito suffered his most humiliating night as a professional fighter, both in and out of the ring. Shortly before being handed a one-sided knockout loss against Shane Mosley, the Mexican and his handlers were caught trying to load the fighter’s handwraps.
The incident resulted in a one-year suspension anywhere in the United States, and a ban levied by the California State Athletic Commission that has yet to be lifted. The Nevada State Athletic Commission also has yet to grant a license to the troubled fighter, having tabled his application last year pending a hearing with the CSAC.
Margarito was able to get licensed in Texas, which hosted his lopsided points loss to Pacquiao last November. His lone win since the first Cotto fight came in his comeback bout six months prior to the Pacquiao assignment, when he won a 10-round decision over Roberto Garcia in Mexico.
The Garcia came about after Margarito was unable to get licensed in Texas in time for a scheduled appearance on the undercard of Pacquiao’s welterweight bout with Joshua Clottey. The show served as the first ever boxing event in Cowboys Stadium, and was to feature Margarito’s ring return in a scheduled fight against welterweight gatekeeper Carson Jones.
Instead, his pending legal troubles scrapped the fight and robbed Jones of a handsome payday in addition to the opportunity to propel his own career.
Margarito hasn’t fought since last year’s loss to Pacquiao, allowing his multiple wounds to heal before returning to the ring full throttle. His injuries delayed plans for a Cotto rematch by a few months, though it gave the respective camps time to sort out a few lingering contractual issues.
Chief among them was the weight at which the bout would be fought. Cotto’s camp pushed for a catchweight weight as well as a same-day weight cap of 160 lb. Margarito’s camp balked at the proposal, and the two sides eventually agreed upon a catchweight of 153 lb., one pound south of the super welterweight limit. Cotto’s alphabet title will still be at stake.
Also decided was the network that would house the event. Showtime was in the running, having produced and distributed Cotto’s win over Mayorga through their pay-per-view arm. But in the end, Top Rank decided to bring the fight to HBO PPV, which also served host to their first fight.
A condensed version of the 24/7 series is being planned for this event. Plans for a full four-part series were never considered, given the event’s proximity to another pay-per-view featuring familiar rivals, when Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez square off for a third time just three weeks prior.
Margarito-Cotto I was not featured on the award-winning series, and it wasn’t until HBO was met with major backlash from the boxing public (and Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters) did it agree to offer a 30-minute “Countdown To…” segment.
The December event marks Cotto’s first fight back at Madison Square Garden in more than two years, though marks his sixth overall appearance in the world’s most famous arena.
Margarito has just fought once at MSG, scoring a first round knockout over Golden Johnson in a pay-per-view supporting bout to Cotto’s 12-round decision over Shane Mosley in November ’07. The night marked the first of three straight cards on which Cotto and Margarito appeared together, followed by an Atlantic City doubleheader in April ’08 and of course their head-on collision three months later.
The New York City press tour stop coincides with the date tickets go on sale to the public – Tuesday, September 20 at 12:00pm ET. Tickets are priced at $600, $400, $300, $200, $100, and $50 including applicable service charges, and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at http://www.thegarden.com and all Ticketmaster outlets, which charges an additional fee.
By Jake Donovan