As the dramatic saga that is the (non) licensing situation regarding Antonio Margarito continues and goes into its final hours, with the New York State Athletic Commission expected to deny Margarito at 11 a.m. EST, I thought I'd look back and find what Melvina Lathan said in her time at the podium back on September 20.
That was the day that the Cotto vs Margarito II press conference was held at the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan. The video is below.
"Whenever Bob comes to town, he comes to town and really throws out the red carpet. That's what we need in New York. I can't tell you how proud, how happy we are at the commission to have such a beginning of Madison Square Garden, once she has a new facelift that is, that we are going to be the ones to help open it. This is a great show, both shows are going to be a great show (Donaire vs Narvaez on October 22), and we're just really looking forward to these exciting -- both evenings of boxing.
"I have a great crew, which in part helps to maintain and make sure that everything is safe as far as the welfare, the safety of the boxers are concerned. Without that crew and their dedication, the state athletic commission just would not be, and I am very happy to have them on my team. I applaud them myself. Come out to the show, know that everything is going to go well, and best of luck to both participants. Thank you again."
Despite that the building is nearly sold out, and the fight is two weeks away, all is not going well, and the fight almost surely will not be taking place at Madison Square Garden.
Now, Lathan does mention the New York commission's dedication to the welfare and safety of boxers, and she's not just talking there. New York has a good track record in recent years dealing with fighter safety. It is certainly not the fact that Margarito and his surgically-repaired eye are being turned down for a license that bothers me. New York has tough medical standards, and I don't think that's a bad thing.
But there's something about this that just isn't coming off right to me. The eye is a concern, and it's not up to snuff for New York. Let's just take that for what it is. Again, that's fine. Take out of your head the idea that this is anything to do with Margarito's 2009 scandal and suspension in California, because that has nothing to do with it.
Here's what we understand as of this moment: Margarito's "late" application for license was not unusual, by all accounts. It was likely assumed by Top Rank that it was a business-as-usual matter. Margarito would be licensed. After all, they'd had little reason to assume New York was overly concerned with his surgery from earlier this year. If nothing else, they had little reason to assume that because Melvina Lathan attended this press conference, helped promote the fight, and gave all indications that fans should buy their tickes to come see "a great show."
There is the belief floating out there, and I have no concrete opinion on this, that the New York commission is making a stand here because of the UFC's lawsuit against the state, which seeks to lift the ban on mixed martial arts events. If they make a big issue of not licensing Margarito, the belief goes, they show how serious New York is, how committed they are to not allowing barbarism or the like, and that the ultra-violent world of mixed martial arts still has no place being endorsed or approved by such a dignified commission. They can point to this and say, "Look, we wouldn't even license this star fighter for a big fight that would have brought in millions, and we've held boxing here for ages."
Again, I have no idea about that, but it's something people are talking about.
We'll know for sure later this morning, but I think the idea of Cotto vs Margarito II in New York is down for the count.