There may be hope out there for those who want to keep the December 3 fight between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito at its original venue. Chris Mannix reports that there's political pressure being poured on the New York State Athletic Commission to license Margarito, and to allow the fight to stay at Madison Square Garden:
According to sources close to the process, the NYSAC has been under enormous pressure in the last 24 hours to approve Margarito. Cotto-Margarito means big business in New York. Tickets for the Dec. 3 show were more than 90 percent sold. The influx of cash from ticket sales, concessions and revenue generated by businesses around the Garden would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. Not to mention that the impact of the NBA lockout has already caused the Garden and the surrounding businesses a lot of money. Since Thursday night, sources say, representatives from the city, state and MSG have lobbied the commission to push the license through.
The pressure put the commission in a precarious position. Politics was suddenly a major factor. Their doctors believe Margarito should not be licensed, that his cataract injury puts him at risk for greater, possibly permanent, damage. So they compromised, essentially saying that if an independent, NYSAC-approved doctor clears you, so will we.
Today's hearing had the air of a boxing match itself, starting with the commission demanding that Margarito come back to New York for a NYSAC-approved doctor examination, and ending a couple of hours later with chairperson Melvina Lathan thunderously dominating a conversation with Margarito's lawyer, which wound up with the agreement that Margarito would meet a NYSAC doctor halfway in terms of travel for an additional exam.
In between, during a recess, it was reported that promoter Bob Arum insists that the NYSAC doctor be approved by both parties. Basically, it's New York saying they won't trust just Margarito's doctors, and Top Rank saying they won't trust only the New York doctor. Arum plans to have Margarito's doctors weigh in on the choice.
I can only imagine Top Rank going through with this if they're confident that the exam will lead to Margarito being licensed, and the fight staying at Madison Square Garden. Even if they have a solid backup plan in place, the process of selling tickets to a new venue would need to start immediately. If they feel as though they won't get a license in New York, and they go through with a few more days of this, they're putting themselves in a bad position.