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Friday, December 2, 2011
A look back at fightweek

By Michael Woods

Here are some entries which ran on ESPN.com that I should have posted here. Please accept my apology, readers. Just a little extra recap to fightweek here in NYC.

12/1 RIOS IS SURLY, AND SURELY EXCITING TO WATCH: At the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito II undercard news conference at BB King's in New York on Thursday, Brandon Rios had the look of a man who has been munching on broccoli for late-night snacks.

The California boxer will try to raise his record to 29-0 and retain his WBA 135-pound crown against 31-1 Brit John Murray on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Rios could and should be a TV staple and fan fave for some time to come; he presses forward, throws punches in bunches and seeks to give fans value for their money. Plus, he has the mentality of a shark. If he draws blood, he goes for the kill.

"He's recognized as one of the most exciting fighters in the world," said Bob Arum, Rios' promoter. "People want to see fighters, not a lot of movement and posturing. Rios epitomizes that type of fighter."

Rios, 25, spoke about his opportunity Saturday night. "Glad to be in New York for the first time," he said.

Then, to Murray: "I ain't going nowhere and you ain't going nowhere. There's nobody out there at 135 that can give me a challenge. Saturday night, your ass is going down."

Arum drew a laugh when he called Murray to the mic, then noted that the fighter stayed at the same hotel as Barack Obama on Wednesday night during the president's New York fundraising stint.

"We go to England, and we don't see the Queen," Arum said.

Murray said Rios is "fun to watch." Wonder if he'll have the same appraisal after Saturday's bout.

11/30 HEAT IS LIKE HAGLER-HEARNS: Hagler-Hearns: That's what promoter Bob Arum compared the level of heat and dislike on display between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito to at the final presser before the fighters' Saturday rematch at Madison Square Garden. There was no final faceoff between the boxers at the end of the press conference, despite it being customary, because, Arum explained, why risk an early skirmish?

Now, would there have been a faceoff if the arena wasn't 300 seats from a sellout? I speculate, but I'd guess yes.

I asked Arum, who promoted Hagler, why Marvin hated Hearns, who was no villain sort -- not anything like the dimpled alleged "criminal" Margarito. "Who the f--- knows?" Arum answered.

Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti recalled two other occasions when obvious enmity cancelled a faceoff: before Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson and before Oscar De La Hoya-Fernando Vargas.

"Why risk it? There was no need," Moretti said after Cotto and Margarito went their separate ways.


11/30 TRAINER GARCIA SAYS EYE IS ALL GOOD

NEW YORK -- Pretty much everyone in the building on Saturday night expects Miguel Cotto to play "Pin the Glove on the Eye" on that messed-up, iffy right orb of Antonio Margarito.

I know what the doctors, a whole bunch of them, say: that the eye is fit to fight, that the Mexican-born hitter isn't any more susceptible to damage in his right eye than in his left. I accept that on face value. But if it were me in there, I'd like to do some tests myself.

I'd like to go at that thing without remorse, and test the doctors' theory. It's a pretty good bet that we'll see more jabs than usual from the Puerto Rican boxer this weekend at Madison Square Garden, and that his hook will be cookin' from minute one. He will be testing the doctors' findings for as long as the fight lasts.

For more on Cotto-Margarito II, check out our topics page.
Margarito's trainer, Robert Garcia, expects the same. He told ESPN.com that he asked sparring partners in camp not to steer away from the eye, but to target it, as he expects Cotto to do.

"I'm not even worried about the eye," Garcia said. "We have nothing to hide. We had [HBO's] '24/7' in camp and I never tried to prevent left hooks. I asked sparring partners to throw more jabs and hooks to get ready for it, because I know Cotto will. We have no worries about the eye. Like the doctor says, the same thing could happen to either eye. And if something happens, that's part of the sport."

Garcia was a more-than-fair pugilist in his day; he boxed from 1992 to 2001, and won a super featherweight crown while accruing a 34-3 mark. He lost three of his final five bouts, each time by KO, so he well understands the feeling and risk of getting tagged.

I wondered if he would have soldiered on if he had had surgery on a busted orbital bone, surgery to fix a detached retina and surgery to fix a cataract within a span of six months, as Margarito did. Garcia said he would if the doctors told him he could.

"He's healthy, the vision is good, and I was telling sparring partners to throw more left hooks," Garcia said of Margarito. "We have to be ready for that."

The trainer said he foresees a stoppage win for his guy.

"Last time, it was Round 11, and I see a similar kind of fight. I don't think Cotto is as fast and as strong as at welterweight, so it could happen maybe two rounds earlier."

I have a vision of that right eye getting puffed up quick, and it being a drag on Margarito. What about you, readers?