Sadly, the sport of boxing has completely fallen off the map to the casual sports fan. Despite the rich history, and the one time popularity of star boxers, boxing just doesn’t have the same caliber of audience it once had. This audience I speak of obviously is the American audience. Boxing is still very popular globally, and especially in the countries of Mexico and Puerto Rico from which the two boxers of this 24/7 originate. In order to promote their big Pay Per View fights, HBO puts together these short documentaries in which they follow the two fighters involved during their training camps. During these half hour segments that premiere each week leading up to the fight HBO does an excellent job of not only setting the stage for the fight but also gives you an opportunity to get to know each fighter. It has been over 3 years since these two squared off for the first time and the drama that occurred after and led to this rematch is a story not even Hollywood could have dreamed up.
The best way to enjoy 24/7 is to watch the Face Off hosted by Max Kellerman. They sit both fighters down face to face and have them answer questions in an interview format. These questions are usually fight provoking, which is the point. The two men do not like one another and that becomes clear right away. Miguel Cotto is Puerto Rican, and Antonio Margarito is Mexican. These two nationalities already do not get along with one another and then after the events that took place following their first fight, it is completely understandable why there is such a deep hatred.
The first time these two met, Cotto was an undefeated champion who was fighting a man who claimed to be the most avoided fighter in boxing. Cotto dominated Margarito for the first half of the fight but it became clear in the 7th round that Cotto was beginning to run out of gas. From the 7th round on Margarito turned Cotto into a bloody mess, until finally in the 11th round the referee stopped the fight after Cotto had gone to a knee for the 2nd time. Margarito became the welterweight champion and fulfilled a dream that began before he had even had his first professional fight at the age of 15. In his first title defense 6 months later is where the spark of controversy began. Before Margarito entered the ring with Shane Mosely, he was caught with something underneath his hand wraps. Margarito was forced to re-wrap his hands and was then destroyed by Shane Mosely. Jim Lampley, HBO’s long time fight commentator said after the fight that the hard thudding blows that we saw Margarito consistently land on Miguel Cotto were absent in the fight against Shane Mosely.
Margarito was discovered to have plaster underneath his hand wraps before he fought Shane Mosely, and had his boxing license taken away for a year. This is where the drama begins, because no one knows for sure (besides Margarito and his team) if Margarito wore the plaster against Cotto or not, because he was not caught. Cotto firmly believes he did, and Margarito and his team swear they did not. The pictures Cotto shows us during this episode are pretty hard to argue against. It does appear that there is red on the plaster that was used in the courtroom as evidence, and red on the side of Margarito’s hand wraps after he defeated Cotto. What’s strange about all of this however, is there are two different stories as to whether or not the wrapping of the hands was witnessed before the fight. Cotto claims that no one from Margarito’s team came into their dressing room to witness the wrapping of the hands, so therefore they didn’t send anyone from their team to Margarito’s dressing room. However, Margarito claims that Cotto’s team did send someone, and they in turn sent someone into Cotto’s dressing room. There seems to be a lot of seperate stories about the same event going on between these two. It is a running theme for this fight build up.
The truth will be told when they meet inside the ring for the second time on December 3rd, and as if the drama that was already present going into this wasn’t enough there has been even more in the last week. When Margarito returned to the ring to face Manny Pacquio, he right orbital bone was broken from the Pacman’s left hand. This kept Margarito out of the ring for another year to let him fully recover. It also caused an cataract to form over his right eye which was successfully removed. His doctor’s cleared him to fight, so the rematch with Cotto was scheduled for December 3rd at Madison Square Garden. Last week, the New York State Athletic Commission decided to announce that they will not grant Margarito a boxing license for their state until one of their approved doctors clears him. The promoters are saying this fight will still be on December 3rd no matter what, but it might not be in New York. Sometime this week Margarito is supposed to checked out so who knows what they will decide. Either way it will all be covered in next weeks episode which premiers Saturday.