During yesterday’s open media workout for the February 19th Fernando Montiel-Nonito Donaire bantamweight title scrap this weekend, trainer Robert Garcia fielded various questions from the assembled media inside of the Top Rank Gym. Garcia has been working with Donaire for over a year now and initially came to the team as a strategist to help the 28-year old.
During his conversations Garcia spoke of the experience of Montiel, how hungry Donaire is to get to that level and much more. Garcia also spoke of other key fighters in his stable, including Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios who challenges BA lightweight champion Miguel Acosta on February 26th, his younger brother and featherweight contender Mikey Garcia, and of course former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito.
BoxingScene’s Rick Reeno learned from Garcia that Margarito will be arriving in Las Vegas for this weekend’s fight between two of the sport’s finest little men, set to take place at the Mandalay Bay. A fixture of Top Rank’s for several years, Margarito is no stranger to making appearances in the area and after this weekend’s card he will be turning his attention to his preparation for a hopeful June rematch with WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto.
Margarito handed Cotto his first defeat as a professional two and a half years ago inside the MGM Grand. In that fight the Tijuana fighter fell behind on the scorecards early before mounting a furious rally and dropping his Puerto Rican foil twice late in the fight on his way towards an 11th round TKO.
Image galleries: Nonito Donaire in Las Vegas * Fernando Montiel exudes confidence * Mark Melligen trains for February 19th
In his next fight Margarito was caught with elements of plaster of paris in his hand wraps prior to his one-sided blowout at the hands of Shane Mosley and subsequently suspended by the California State Athletic Commission. He has been trying to rebuild his image ever since and is coming off a one-sided loss to Manny Pacquiao last November.
Garcia revealed that Margarito is likely to being sparring sometime in March for the Cotto fight. Cotto has to get past a March 12th assignment against Ricardo Mayorga to make the fight happen.
Garcia gave his take on how bad his charge wants a chance to show the world he can beat Cotto again. There had been suspicions that Margarito had used illegal hand inserts against Cotto as well but Garcia isn’t buying that notion.
“He’s ready for that one,” said Garcia. “He wants to show everybody that he doesn’t need anything illegal. The first fight was in Vegas and at that time I wasn’t with him but Nevada has great commissioners and they had somebody from Cotto’s camp in their corner. So what can you say? That the commissioners didn’t do a good job or his corner men didn’t see anything? I just feel that it was something that he never used for that fight.”
Margarito was medically cleared last month to begin intense training, as he had suffered a broken orbital bone in the Pacquiao defeat. Garcia says Margarito is already running but won’t engage in any serious sparring sessions until sometime in March.