I said during the Friday night taping of HBO's "Fight Day Now" at the Madison Square Garden Theater that if I was going to pick one card to pay for this year, the Cotto-Margarito rematch card would be it. I wasn't being a shill, either. I feel that. The backstory to this one is beyond juicy. The world thinks Antonio Margarito is a serial cheater, and the only way he can convince them that he isn't a bold-faced liar--because almost everyone finds it waaay hard to believe that a boxer can't feel plaster-hard pads on his knuckles--is to beat up Miguel Cotto tonight.
The world wonders if Cotto can deliver on his apparently fierce desire to punish the man he's taken to calling a "criminal" and erase the pain from that 2008 night when he was made to submit, take a knee and quit, by the Mexican.
I'm just hoping that we get a hard-fought prizefight Saturday, one not marred by semi sucker punches or separated shoulders. Hopefully, we got all the silliness out of the way during the licensing flap, and Brandon Rios' inability to make weight, which played out during the Friday weigh in. He tried once (136.4), stepped off, tried again (135.6), and then went to sweat it off. Back less than half an hour later, when he was given an hour to make weight, he was 136.6. His body rebelled against him, and told him 140 is the place for him. He will pay Brit challenger John Murray $20Gs out of his $325,000 purse and must weigh 146.6 pounds or less on a scale at his hotel this morning (9 AM). If he does not, Murray won't fight, his management said. Murray said he was angry at Rios for not making the weight, but he said that when he didn't know that he could still win the WBA lightweight crown. Indeed, he can win the crown, though Rios has given up all claims to it.
On Tuesday, FWIW, Rios' trainer Robert Garcia said his guy had "five or six pounds" still to drop and admitted "we still have some work to do."
Cotto asked for this bout to be at 153 or under, and he made 152 1/4, while Margarito was 152 1/2 on the scale. Bob Arum stood in between them and acted as a wall to deter them from having a prefight fracas.
I have a feeling, as I said on that HBO show, which will run today on HBO Zone at 5 PM ET, that the main event will be a thriller. Cotto may well fight with anger, and that may fuel him positively at MSG. Put yourself in his boots; what if you were pretty darned sure that the guy standing across from you could well have been using foreign objects in his fists when he fought you? Wouldn't it be hard for you to operate with professional dispassion?
TSS Universe, fire us your Cotto-Margarito rematch predictions, please.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV