Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito face off
It was nearly two years ago now that someone passed along to me a photo that California officials attempted to introduce as part of the evidence they used to ban Antonio Margarito from boxing.
The picture showed Margarito celebrating his 11th-round knockout victory over Miguel Cotto in 2008 -- Cotto's first loss and a performance that made Tijuana's Margarito boxing's next big thing given his thundering power and big-hearted performance in the championship rounds.
Looking closer, you could see part of Margarito's hand wrapping had been torn in the knuckle area and that the covering underneath appeared to have a blood stain on it.
Months later, Margarito would have his hand wraps confiscated by state athletic commission officials after Shane Mosley's trainer, Naazim Richardson, found hardened pads over the knuckles that ultimately were found to be caked with plaster substances.
One of those knuckle pads was stained with blood, eerily in the same area where the post-Cotto photo showed the stain.
Cotto had concluded his final news conference for a fight he'd lose to Manny Pacquiao when I yelled to him that I had been given something he might want to see.
He summoned me to the back of his bus, alone, and reviewed the photograph.
"I know about this," Cotto said.
A look of sadness and confirmation overtook his face. Had his perfect career been sabotaged by a cheater? What could he do about it?
To me, it was one of the most powerful moments I've experienced covering the sport.
For a while, Cotto insisted he'd never allow Margarito to earn "another penny" off him, but as happens in boxing, the idea of this "Redemption" fight on Dec. 3 is just too rich not to happen.
Now, HBO has gotten Cotto and Margarito into the same room to let the pair hash out their differences in "24/7 Cotto/Margarito," which premieres Saturday.
And that photo plays a prominent role in the conversation.
-- Lance Pugmire
Video: Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito meet face-to-face outside the ring for this exclusive interview with Max Kellerman in "24/7 Cotto/Margarito," which premieres Saturday on HBO. Credit: HBO