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Antonio Margarito finally licensed by New York for Dec. 3 bout

November 22, 2011 |  3:37 pm

The New York State Athletic Commission capped a turbulent episode Tuesday by granting a boxing license to world super-welterweight title challenger Antonio Margarito of Tijuana.

Margarito is now free to fight Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto in a rematch Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Margarito's fate was unclear following invasive surgery on his right eye to remove a large cataract that developed after Manny Pacquiao broke Margarito's orbital bone in their November 2010 bout.

The New York commission declined to license Margarito after the boxer's eye surgeon approved his ability to fight again, last week ordering a special independent exam by ophthamologist Dr. Michael Goldstein on Monday.

The commission received Goldstein's report and took it under advisement during an hour-plus closed meeting, heightening the anxiety for promoters dealing with a fight scheduled in less than two weeks.

Last week, promoter Bob Arum said he was preparing to move the fight to alternative sites, reportedly including Arizona, Denver and Mississippi, if New York rejected Margarito.

Cotto, who lost to Margarito by 11th-round TKO in 2008, further amplified the importance of the New York decision Tuesday morning when he announced on a conference call with Arum that he would fight Margarito in New York or nowhere. Arum ordered the media conference call to end.

New York commissioners Melvina Lathan, Edwin Torres and Tom Santino huddled Tuesday, with Torres telling an assembled audience, "The commission is fully cognizant of the magnitude of this event [but] remains mindful of its primary duty: the safety of its fighters."

Madison Square Garden is already without locked-out NBA games, and the Margarito issue was threatening to scrap a sellout event.

Santino said the "findings and recommendations" of both Margarito-connected experts and other eye experts were "in conflict." Santino, a former boxer, warned, "I know what kind of injuries can occur, particularly with the eye."

Torres ended the dramatic decision by announcing the commission was satisfied with Margarito's "rehabilitation" from the 2009 incident when his hand wraps were found to be loaded with a plaster substance, and, more significantly, with Goldstein's eye exam.

Torres said issuing the license to Margarito was not  "contrary to the best interest of boxing," reaching across a table to shake hands with Margarito's promoters and their attorney, Daniel Petrocelli.

Contacted by telephone, Arum was jubilant.

"There is a fight!" Arum said. "Very, very thrilled."


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-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: Antonio Margarito in 2010. Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images