Commentary

Camp Cotto a contrast to Margarito's father-son relationship with trainer

Miguel Cotto's frosty relationship with uncle/trainer Evangelista Cotto has been well-publicized. Will the tumult spill into the ring and affect Cotto's performance against Antonio Margarito on Saturday?

Originally Published: July 24, 2008
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Miguel CottoChris Farina/Top Rank Mutiny at the MGM Grand? Miguel Cotto, left, has been eager to downplay issues with his trainer/uncle, Evangelista Cotto.
LAS VEGAS -- One has practically a father-son relationship with his trainer, even though they've known each other only since 1999. The other's relationship with his trainer is strictly business, even though they are family.

Each pairing has been a success, but the contrast between Antonio Margarito's rapport with trainer Javier Capetillo and Miguel Cotto's rapport with his uncle, Evangelista Cotto, is stark.

Which one works best? We'll find out when Cotto defends his welterweight title against Margarito on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand in one of the most anticipated fights of the year.

Evangelista Cotto
Chris Farina/Top RankEvangelista Cotto has butted heads with Miguel Cotto in the past. Will it have an affect on his charge in the ring?
Puerto Rico's Cotto (32-0, 26 KOs) has been trained by his uncle, the brother of his father, Miguel Cotto Sr., since he was an amateur. After the 2000 Olympics, Cotto turned pro with Evangelista in his corner and went on to win a junior welterweight title before moving up in weight and winning a welterweight championship. Now, Cotto is among the sport's elite and near the top of the pound-for-pound list.

Evangelista certainly has played a key role in his development and rise to stardom, but they have had an increasingly frosty relationship. Even in the gym, Evangelista is more of a supervisor rather than a hands-on trainer.

It's not a topic Cotto enjoys talking about, but he did open up about it a little on Wednesday during a candid interview session.

"It's like a marriage. We have our problems, we have our happy moments," Cotto said. "Before my last fight [an April knockout of Alfonso Gomez], some of the press made more of it than it was to create controversy."

Their relationship has been deteriorating for quite some time. One of the bumpier moments came in May 2007. That's when Miguel's older brother, Jose Cotto, also trained by Evangelista, faced Prawet Singwancha for a vacant lightweight belt. After the ninth round of what turned out to be a draw, Jose and Evangelista got into an altercation in the corner on national television. Miguel came up from his ringside seat to intervene.

The Battle
TV lineup for Saturday night's Top Rank/HBO PPV card (9 ET) from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas:

• Welterweights: Miguel Cotto (32-0, 26 KOs) vs. Antonio Margarito (36-5, 26 KOs), 12 rounds, for Cotto's title

• Junior flyweights: Giovanni Segura (19-0-1, 15 KOs) vs. Cesar Canchila (26-1, 21 KOs), 12 rounds, for a vacant interim title

• Junior welterweights: Michael Alvarado (21-0, 14 KOs) vs. Cesar Bazan (48-10-1, 31 KOs), 10 rounds

• Junior featherweights: Bernabe Concepcion (25-1-1, 14 KOs) vs. Adam Carrera (19-3, 8 KOs), 10 rounds

-- Dan Rafael

The incident created friction between him and his uncle. Cotto also cited problems with Evangelista over when he trains and how crowded the gym is during his sessions.

Evangelista trains a number of young Puerto Rican fighters and Cotto would become irritated when he would want to use equipment in the gym but was forced to wait while others used it. He would prefer to have his gym time more private.

He said he expressed his feelings to his uncle and the situation improved during this training camp, but he admits there are still problems between them.

"We have a better relationship, but not the best," Cotto said. "We didn't have good communication, but now it's a little better. He agreed to change it some."

Miguel Cotto Sr. often finds himself torn between his son and brother.

"He comes to the gym and on one side he has his brother, on the other side he has his son," Miguel Cotto said. "He tries to be a referee between us."

"The reality is they agree on some things and not on others. And like normal people, they discuss it until an agreement is reached," Cotto Sr. said during HBO's "Countdown to Cotto-Margarito" documentary.

Outside of the gym, Cotto and his uncle rarely spend time together. Cotto spends most of his time with his four children and Evangelista spends a lot of his free time with his ill mother, Miguel's grandmother.

Evangelista does not discuss the relationship with his nephew often, but on the same HBO special, he addressed it.

"Outside, Miguel has his life. I can tell you, before we had a very close relationship," he said. "But obviously, Miguel has a life and we share very little outside the gym."

Margarito's relationship with Capetillo could not be any more different than that of the Cottos.

Margarito, of Mexico, and Capetillo didn't begin working together until 1999, when Margarito already had about 20 professional fights, but they connected very quickly after Margarito's managers put them together.

"Javier trained many of our fighters. He's no joke," said Sergio Diaz, who co-manages Margarito with Francisco Espinoza. "He gives it 100 percent and that is what he expects from his fighters. A lot of fighters can't last with him. We sat down with Antonio and told him we'd like him to train with Capetillo and to see if he can handle it."

Margarito (36-5, 26 KOs) handled it well, quickly adapting to Capetillo's intense military style of training and conditioning. Together, they've won a pair of welterweight titles and grown close to each other.

"It's two different relationships. One is in the gym. It's military style. It's work, and there's demands, and I must meet those demands," Margarito said. "Outside of the gym, it's like a father-son relationship. We really don't talk about boxing. We talk about life in general. Marriage, not boxing."

Although Margarito has a close relationship with his own father, Antonio Sr., who introduced him to boxing at age 8, he says he cares about Capetillo like he was his father.

"I really love him a lot besides the fact that he's a super trainer," Margarito said.

Capetillo has four daughters and a son, who boxed as an amateur, but he considers Margarito like a son.

"Inside the gym, it's work," said Capetillo, who also trains junior bantamweight star Jorge Arce. "I have to do what I have to do to make sure he is ready to fight. But there is a lot of respect between us. Outside the ring, we're like family, like a father-son relationship."

When Margarito is through fighting, the relationship won't end either, Capetillo said.

"It won't end after what we've been through. That's not going to happen," Capetillo said.

What happens with Miguel and Evangelista Cotto after boxing is anyone's guess.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.