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Pre-vote, Antonio Margarito needs exam

11/22/2011 - Boxing

The New York State Athletic Commission on Friday ordered Antonio Margarito to submit to a thorough examination of his right eye by a doctor of the commission's choosing before it would vote on his application for a boxing license.

When and where the exam will take place was not decided at the meeting.

Margarito is scheduled to challenge junior middleweight titlist Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 3 in a major HBO PPV event. However, the commission originally denied his license in early November before holding a hearing on Wednesday -- at the request of Margarito and promoter Top Rank -- to hear testimony from its medical personnel and from Margarito's doctors to reconsider the application.

In addition to a badly broken orbital bone in his face, Margarito suffered a serious eye injury during a one-sided decision loss to Manny Pacquiao last Nov. 13 and has not fought since.

As a result of the beating Margarito took, he developed a large cataract in his right eye. Margarito and his team at first considered the injury to be career ending. However, he eventually had cataract surgery and an artificial lens placed in his eye by Dr. Alan Crandall in Salt Lake City this past spring.

As a matter of policy, the New York commission -- chairperson Melvina Lathan, Edwin Torres and Thomas Santino -- denies applicants with the kind of eye issues Margarito has, although it is within its rights to give a license.

The commission gathered Friday morning and immediately moved to executive session to discuss Margarito's medical records. When the members returned about 45 minutes later Lathan made the announcement.

Saying that the commission's "primary objective is to safeguard the health and safety of all the athletes who compete under its jurisdiction," Lathan said the commission is "noting our multiple concerns" about Margarito's right eye.

She said the commission was directing Margarito to submit "as soon as possible" to an eye exam in New York.

Lathan gave David Moroso, Margarito's attorney, who was at the hearing, one hour to contact Margarito, who is training in Mexico, to see if he would submit to the exam.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said Margarito would submit to the exam and was pleased with the decision.

"That's good. That's fine," Arum told ESPN.com. "That means he is not going to be automatically disqualified because he had the cataract surgery. The surgery was performed by the best possible doctor (Crandall). As long as it's a competent doctor in New York who does the exam, fine. It's better than a denial."

Arum said he wanted Crandall and New York's chief commission doctor to get together and agree on a neutral ophthalmologist to examine Margarito, whom Arum said was willing to break camp for the exam.

The commission wanted Margarito to come to New York for the exam. But Moroso said that while Margarito had no problem submitting to the exam, he argued that forcing Margarito to break camp to fly back and forth from Mexico to New York over the course of a couple of days at the height of his preparation -- just two weeks before the fight -- "would be a massive disruption to his training that could be dangerous."

Moroso suggested that the commission doctors "caucus" with Margarito's doctors via teleconference to ask any specific questions that were not covered at Wednesday's hearing and that perhaps the commission doctors could have their questions answered so they would decide he was fit to box.

Moroso said if the commission doctors were not persuaded, "we can work on the logistics of getting Mr. Margarito to submit to an exam."

The commission shot down the idea of the teleconference for the doctors, saying it would simply drag out a process that has already been time consuming.

The sides argued the point for several minutes, prompting an agitated Lathan to say, "I'm just as pissed off as anyone else."

Moroso suggested that the doctor selected by the commission meet Margarito somewhere in between Mexico and New York so he does not have to travel all the way to the East Coast.

The commission eventually agreed to the suggestion with Moroso saying it would assist with the logistics and provide transportation for the doctor.

Arum said he is happy with the plan.

"We offered to do this six weeks ago and we are happy to do it now," he said. "They are arranging how the exam will take place and we will fly Margarito and the doctor in."

Arum suggested that the exam should take place in Salt Lake City at Crandall's office, so all of the necessary equipment will be available.

"Whichever doctor the commission selects, he will examine Margarito and find the same thing our doctor has found, that he is OK," Arum said.

If New York denies the license, Arum said he will move the fight on short notice to another venue with places such as Denver, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and venues in Mississippi possible.

Margarito's licensing issues in New York have nothing to do with the hand-wrapping scandal that saw him have his license revoked in California for trying to enter the ring with loaded hand wraps for a January 2009 fight with Shane Mosley.

He sat out for 16 months and although California denied Margarito's application to be relicensed and Nevada refused to rule on an application, he was eventually licensed in Texas and fought Pacquiao at Cowboys Stadium a year ago.

Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) and Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) first met in 2008 in what turned out to be a tremendous action fight. Mexico's Margarito came on strong in the later rounds and stopped Puerto Rico's Cotto in the 11th round of a bloody battle, taking his welterweight belt at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Because Margarito was caught trying to fight Mosley with loaded hand wraps in his next fight, and had administered significant facial damage to Cotto in the later rounds, many suspected he had gotten away with wearing illegal hand wraps, making the Dec. 3 fight a much-anticipated grudge rematch.

Dan Rafael is the senior boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.