Top Rank: Plug NOT pulled on MSG card

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
1:48
PM ET
A report that the Dec. 3 boxing card set to unfold at Madison Square Garden will be relocated to another venue, out of New York, is looking like it is premature.

Reporter Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated Tweeted that the card, featuring Miguel Cotto against Antonio Margarito in a rematch of their 2008 clash, would not occur in New York. The Tweet, from a verified account, said: "Source: New York Athletic Commission will reject Antonio Margarito's application for a license. Margarito-Cotto will move out of NY."

A Tweet directly after said, "Bob Arum tells SI that Texas, Denver and Mississippi will be looked at as alternate venues. Announcement will come at end of the day."

But Top Rank VP Carl Moretti, in a Thursday phone call with NYFightBlog, refuted the information.

"The plug has not been pulled on the card," Moretti said. "A hearing with the New York Commission will take place tomorrow at 11 a.m," and the commission will render an up or down decision on whether Margarito will be granted a license to fight.

Moretti continued: "I am not at liberty to comment on other potential sites." He said that if Margarito is not granted a license to box in New York, "we will act appropriately and accordingly."

ESPN's Dan Rafael first clued in readers on the specifics about the Margarito licensing issue on Wednesday.

A source with intimate knowledge of the situation, and not affiliated with the promoter, told NYFightBlog that no decision has been made by the three people who will decide if Margarito will get the go-ahead to box. Commission chair Melvina Lathan and commissioners Edwin Torres and Tom Santino will listen to testimony from medical experts who will state that they believe Margarito is not at undue risk if he boxes, and also experts who fear his right eye could be subject to severe and permanent damage if he fights.

The boxer had surgery on his left eye following his November 2010 fight with Manny Pacquiao. Margarito (age 33; record of 38-7) absorbed large amounts of punishment in his decision loss, and drew praise from pundits for his perseverance in the face of such an assault.

My two cents: I see both sides of the issue. I presume Margarito knows and accepts the potential risks that are present in the prizefighting arena. He has announced that he is willing to die in action, so it is clear that he is a different breed of human being. But I have to applaud the N.Y. commission for looking so hard at Margarito's eye situation.

We often hear of commissions proclaiming that they exist primarily for the health and well-being of the boxers. We don't often see as much evidence of that as you would hope. Whatever direction this goes in, I think and hope we can all agree that all involved do indeed keep at the forefront of their mind the health and well-being of the boxers.

Note: The Friday hearing, in which testimony from sides lobbying for and against Margarito obtaining a N.Y. license to box, will take place at the commission headquarters, at 123 William St. in Manhattan. It is open to the public and begins at 11 a.m. Deliberation among the officials who have final say will not be open to the public.
Michael Woods, a member of the board of the Boxing Writers Association of America, has been covering boxing since 1991. He writes about boxing for ESPN The Magazine and is the news editor for TheSweetScience.com.

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