By Nick Tylwalk
On the first episode of 24/7: Cotto/Margarito, we delved into the history between the two fighters and what is driving them to be the best they can be when they meet for a second time on December 3. The second and final episode looks at their final preparations and details the scare that Margarito got when it appeared he may not be licensed to fight in New York. Let's get to it.
The health of Margarito's right eye, badly damaged in his loss to Manny Pacquiao last year, is an issue with the New York State Athletic Commission as it meets on November 18. Though already examined by doctors and declared healthy, the commission wants Tony to fly to New York and submit to an examination by a doctor of its own choosing, something Margarito's promoters and attorney thinks will be challenging.
With the fight hanging in the balance, Margarito continues to train in the mountains of Mexico. He insists his eye is fine and says the situation is not a distraction. We flash back briefly to the Pacquiao fight and see some of the many left hands that did the damage. Margarito and his team discuss how he begged to finish the fight, despite having what turned out to be a broken orbital bone. The eye has since been operated on twice.
Tony's sparring partners, including J'Leon Love and Jesus Soto Karass, say they believe he is good to go. Margarito trainer Robert Garcia says he is asking those sparring partners to throw more left hooks to make sure his boxer can see those punches. The Tijuana Tornado claims he would not fight if his eye wasn't in the right condition.
Meanwhile, Cotto keeps training with his team in Orlando. He's ignoring the talk about the licensing snafu because it's not his health issue. Trainer Pedro Diaz puts in long hours analyzing Cotto's preparation with the help of a laptop and some old fashioned pen-and-paper notes and calculations.
Diaz hails from the Cuban boxing system and once trained that country's amateur boxers. He defected three years ago in order to put his techniques to use in the pro game, something he says was impossible in Cuba. Though he left behind his wife and children for the opportunity, he hasn't regretted the decision.
In Mexico, Margarito is out on a local track, doing drills specially tailored to get him in boxing shape. A special focus seems to be jumping and running exercises to increase his short-area speed and quickness.
That Sunday, Margarito (sporting a sweet Pac-Man hat) and Garcia begin the long journey to New York to see the commission's doctor. His flight gets into New York around midnight, allowing Tony to grab four hours of sleep before heading to Long Island to get one more independent opinion on his eye from a doctor picked by Top Rank. That doctor, Kenneth Rosenthal, feels Margarito's eye has been sufficiently repaired and is healthy enough to box.
HBO's cameras aren't allowed to witness the commission's official examination. It will be another day until the results come in, at which point Margarito will already be back in Mexico.
Cotto is much more relaxed in comparison, taking a daily break from his workouts to play dominoes. His mother, grandfather and best friend are all participants in the game. Miguel believes having family and friends around him is important to keep him in the correct mental state to prepare for a big fight.
Cotto's wife, Melissa, and children arrive from Puerto Rico to see him for the first time in five weeks. She talks about the difficulty of seeing him beaten up in the first Margarito bout. She's also angry every time she sees Margarito, thinking about the possibility that he put her husband's life at risk. However, Melissa is confident Miguel will triumph this time out.
On November 22, the commission decides that Margarito is healthy enough to be licensed to fight. Todd DuBoef is clearly relieved that the fight can take place as scheduled at Madison Square Garden.
Cotto says December 3 will be a huge Puerto Rican night, but Margarito scoffs and says it will just be the two men in the ring once the bell rings. Cotto adds that he has no respect for his foe, so he plans on taking advantage of Tony's eye the same way Margarito took advantage of the plaster. In response, Tony boasts that Miguel will feel like he's being hit by plaster when they fight again. Some good old-fashioned training montages close out the show.
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