Antonio Margarito Cleared to Fight Miguel Cotto at MSG

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By Nick Tywalk

Had Antonio Margarito not been medically cleared by the New York State Athletic Commission, his December 3 rematch with Miguel Cotto would have taken place in some other state. Or, as it turns out, possibly not at all.

Fortunately, we don't have to worry about either one of those scenarios, because Margarito has been granted his license to box in New York, and the bout will take place as scheduled at Madison Square Garden. The hold-up was Margarito's right eye, so badly damaged by Manny Pacquiao a year ago that it required multiple surgeries to repair.

Margarito's promoters at Top Rank had already taken him to prominent doctors who deemed him healthy enough to fight. But the NYSAC wanted their own doctors to examine him, and refused to grant the Tijuana Tornado until that happened.

Had the commission turned down the license request, it was widely expected that the fight would just move elsewhere - ESPN's Dan Rafael has reported that Denver's Pepsi Center was the most likely site. Yet on a conference call with the media on Tuesday, Cotto claimed he would not accept a substitute location because his Puerto Rican fans had already purchased tickets at MSG.

Seems like a strange stance for someone to take who is convinced his opponent cheated the first time they met and is supposedly hellbent on revenge, yes? I don't disagree, but consider this: If you were certain your archenemy had done you dirty, and in some ways you were doing him a favor by agreeing to fight him again, wouldn't you insist on having as many factors on your side as possible? In this case, that's an overwhelmingly pro-Cotto crowd that will be on hand at the Garden, where Miguel is an established draw. In Colorado, we would have seen a much more neutral and overall sedate group of fans.

Now all of those things are hypotheticals, so we can all breathe easy (especially Bob Arum). The fight is on, and it's on for MSG. Can't wait.

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