Miguel Cotto embraces cash for Antonio Margarito rematch
Miguel Cotto once said he'd never let Antonio Margarito earn another penny off him.
For more than two years, Cotto has harbored resentment that Margarito handed the Puerto Rican his first loss in July 2008 by wearing "loaded" gloves into the ring -- a claim strengthened by the fact California boxing regulators in January 2009 secured plaster-hardened pads from inside Margarito's hand wraps before his scheduled Staples Center fight against Shane Mosley.
Even on Thursday, Cotto pulled out his iPhone and showed reporters a photo showing a joyous Margarito celebrating the Cotto victory with the gauze over his hand wraps torn in the knuckle area.
"You ever see a hand wrap like that?" Cotto asked. "Gauze is not supposed to break. You be the judge."
(Perhaps more sinister, the hand wraps pulled off Margarito before the Mosley fight appeared to be stained with blood in the same spot they were when photographed in the Cotto fight aftermath.)
Yet, Cotto, 30, has decided to give Margarito, 33, another bout -- a 153-pound catchweight fight for Cotto's World Boxing Assn. light-middleweight belt.
"What other names are out there for me to make money against?" Cotto asked. "Floyd [Mayweather, who just fought Saturday], Manny [Pacquiao, who defeated Cotto in 2009], and Antonio."
Someone mentioned middleweight champion Sergio Martinez's name.
"You think Sergio Martinez will make me this kind of money?" Cotto asked.
Promoter Bob Arum revealed Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) will be paid $5 million plus a larger percentage of the $54.95 pay-per-view sales for fighting Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) on Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where Cotto is 6-0 and will draw a heavy crowd of supporters.
Margarito, said Arum, will be paid $2.5 million plus a smaller pay-per-view percentage than Cotto.
"I've accepted my defeat like a man, and kept walking with it," said Cotto, who will begin training camp in Orlando, Fla., under trainer Emanuel Steward next week. "I'm going to put clear a lot of things people won't have to hear anymore once I win.... I'm a more mature, more focused boxer than I was three years ago."
Margarito will train in the mountains above Mexico City for the bout with his Oxnard-based trainer Robert Garcia.
The former world welterweight champion from Tijuana was knocked out by Mosley in the 2009 bout, then suspended from the sport before returning to a prominent bout in November 2010, and getting battered in Texas by Manny Pacquiao.
Margarito's career was jeopardized by an eye injury in the bout but he underwent cataract surgery this year and declared "everything good" Thursday at the Wilshire Grand Hotel, where the fighters conducted a news conference.
Arum said 65% of the tickets at Madison Square Garden were sold out during the first day of sales.
Arum said the sides have agreed to minimize the hand-wrapping discussions by turning in to the New York State Athletic Commission all tape, gauze and bandages to be used in the fight one day before the bout in a sealed envelope.
"When Cotto feels my first punch, he can say, 'Man, I take my words back,' " Margarito said.
The fighters have been icy toward each other throughout the press tour, publicist Lee Samuels said.
"The key to my victory is preparation," Margarito said, a nod to his insistence that Cotto was worn down by Margarito's power punching in the first bout. "Fights like this are won in the gym."
Cotto embraced the challenge.
"Last time, I left the ring without my belt," he said. "This time, I will climb out of that ring with my belt."
Photo: Miguel Cotto, left, Antonio Margarito. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press.