Thursday, July 24, 2008 | 1:11 a.m.
IF YOU GO
What: Cotto vs. Margarito
When: Saturday (HBO Pay-Per-View begins at 6 p.m. PT)
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena
Tickets: Can be purchased at the MGM Grand Garden Arena box office and at all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations or online.
There was a lot of talk about “La Batalla” Wednesday afternoon inside the MGM, but none of that noise came from the two boxers who will be taking part in the actual battle inside the hotel’s Grand Garden Arena come Saturday night.
“When Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito get in the ring against each other, there will be fireworks, there will be action,” said longtime boxing promoter Bob Arum, whose Top Rank company represents both boxers.
“But I’m so proud of both of these young men. There wasn’t one bit of trash talking in this promotion. I’m sick and tired of fighters who trash talk each other then get in the ring and think they are ‘Dancing with the Stars.’
“We don’t need that in boxing,” continued Arum. “We need fighters and athletes who are sportsmen, who when they get in the ring bring everything there is to the contest. That’s what you’re going to see from Miguel and Tony on Saturday night.”
The two fighters showed that mutual respect for each other during Wednesday’s press conference, and only offered a glimpse into their warrior mentalities when asked to position themselves face-to-face in menacing poses.
“There’s not really much to say. I worked real hard in training camp,” said Margarito, a two-time world champ from Tijuana. “Now it’s time to get up into the ring and do this great battle.”
Cotto, the WBA welterweight champion, was equally quiet in his response.
“Everybody wants to see the best fighters and this is going to be a real battle — two real warriors in the same ring,” said the undefeated Cotto, who has recorded 26 knockouts during his 32-0 career.
While both boxers agreed to let their gloves do the talking, Arum didn’t hesitate to praise each of his prize fighters.
“It’s been said that fighters would rather do anything to avoid a fight with Antonio Margarito,” Arum said.
“He brings it in every fight that he’s in. Other welterweights have proceeded with caution, because they didn’t want to fight Antonio. It was to many, a no-win proposition because Antonio was not the best-known fighter — yet probably one of the most dangerous fighters out there.”
On cue, Arum said that Cotto doesn’t duck anyone.
“He is what we mean when we refer to a true champion,” Arum said. “There’s no nonsense, no going into a nightclub and raining down large stacks of cash, nothing.
“He’s a guy who will fight anybody you put in the ring.”
HBO executive Mark Taffet said even though the fight is in Vegas, a world-wide audience will be watching, especially because of the pedigree of famous boxers from Mexico and Puerto Rico.
“This Saturday night when Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito step into the ring at the MGM Grand, they will be adding another very important piece of history to that great, long tradition of battles between heroes of Mexico and Puerto Rico,” Taffet said.
“These are two of the best fighters in the world, two of the most exciting fighters in the world. When the best fight the best, there are no losers. This is exactly the type of fight that this sport needs and that we clamor for.”
The only thing each fighter seemed to clamor for Wednesday was the chance to get away from all the cameras and hoopla and back to the business at hand.
“Everyone talks about how this is the best fight that can be made in boxing, and I agree that this is the best fight,” said Cotto’s uncle and only trainer, Evangelista Cotto.
“I expect a great fight and we are looking forward to going back to Puerto Rico with the championship.”