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Three years later, both men will find themselves facing each other again.

In just over a week, boxing world will be ushered to a matchup that promises to be an explosive affair. For the second time around, former welterweight rivals Miguel Angel Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) of Puerto Rico and Antonio Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) of Mexico will tear up the ring and each other on December 3rd, 2011 at the Madison Square Garden, New York.

Much is at stake. But only two things matter at this juncture – redemption for Margarito and revenge for Cotto.

Since their classic first encounter in July 2008 where Cotto, who boxed the taller, more aggressive Margarito from the early to middle rounds, dropped to his knees twice as the Mexican barreled his way en route to a scintillating 11th-round TKO victory. Margarito delivered Cotto’s first career loss via a brutal punishment.

An immediate rematch would have been appropriate. However, fate had other plans as Margarito, whose reputation as a fearsome fighter magnified with the Cotto victory.

Starting off where they left three years ago, there's no saying what these two can bring to the ring once they fight again on December 3, 2011.

Six months later, Margarito took on boxing legend Shane Mosley. The American not only won the fight, but emphatically handed Margarito his first defeat by stoppage. More than just the loss, the Mosley fight casted a huge shadow over the Mexican, one that he can never avoid for the rest of his pugilistic career.

Plaster of Paris. Illegal handwraps. Unfair advantage.

A plaster-like substance was found in the wraps of Margarito prior to his showdown with Mosley. Nazim Richardson, Mosley’s chief trainer, discovered the flaw in the wrapping and pointed it out to the boxing commission inspectors. For Margarito, the stigma of a cheater sprouted then and there.

Cotto took the loss and went on with his career. After losing to Margarito in 2008, Cotto figured in five bouts, winning four and dropping one to Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in November 2009. Currently, Cotto holds the WBA light middleweight championship which he won from then titleholder Yuri Foreman back in June 2010. That title is on the line come fight night.

“He played with my health,” Cotto said on 247/7, referring to accusations that stemmed with the discovery of illegal substance found in Margarito’s wraps. Cotto has been adamant about Margarito using plaster when they fought, tugging along photos that suggest validation of the WBA light middlweight champion’s argument.

“But he won’t be using plaster this time. The result will be different.”

On his part, Margarito only won once and lost twice after beating Cotto, once to Mosley and once to Pacquiao in November 2010, who caused a serious injury on the Mexican’s right eye. The same injury threatened to shut down the Cotto-Margarito rematch. Regarding allegations of cheating in his match against Cotto, Margarito remains steadfast with his stand.

“It’s all gauze.”

But with all the kinks ironed out and everything leading to the fight are looking good, one can expect pugilistic action of epic proportions. Driven by bad blood, suspicion, resilience, and redemption, both men will try to come up the victor.

There’s no saying whether Cotto will be able to settle the score or Margarito will put to rest any doubts of his win over his Puerto Rican rival three years prior. If their last fight’s any indication, coupled with all the things revolving around these two heavy bangers, then the real winners will be the sport and the fans.

Photo credits: Beats, Boxing, and Mayhem

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Kenneth P. Ragpala is an award-winning sports blogger who has been covering the sport of boxing since 2008. His works have appeared in local newspapers in his home city in Cagayan de Oro and in several online publications abroad. Ragpala has written for several boxing websites, namely Fight Hype, 8 Count News, and Bleacher Report.