Margarito says he's tougher than Cotto

After the fightwriters finished with the licensing storyline last Tuesday, after Antonio Margarito was granted a license to box in New York, they switched gears to another compelling element to the Margarito-Miguel Cotto rematch that will unfold at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

During Max Kellerman's Face Off show on HBO -- in which the host sits down fighters across a table from each other and gives them the third degree -- Cotto admitted that he thinks it's foolish to have a "I will die in the ring" mindset. Margarito, meanwhile, proved he has that streak in him when he sought to carry against Manny Pacquiao in their November 2010 clash, despite having next to no chance to win.

Margarito suffered a busted orbital bone on his right eye in that one-sided drubbing, but proved something that Cotto has not: He is willing to go out on that proverbial shield if he has to, because he believes the bout isn't lost until there is no time on the clock.

Cotto, on the other hand, took a knee in Round 11 after Margarito was whacking him around like some of those law enforcement personnel on the Occupy protestors. Cotto's corner got the hint and pulled the plug, as they saw their man wasn't inclined to absorb more punishment when he saw the sad writing on the wall.

I asked Margarito, during a workout open to media at the Kingsway Gym on 28th and Fifth, if he believes he is the stronger man mentally, and has more of a warrior heart than Cotto, with that Face Off contrast fresh in mind.

"Mentally and physically I do," he said. "I've already shown it once, and I'm going to show it again."

Margarito, 33, said he isn't sure why Cotto, 31, is in this business, because a fighter's life is on the line in the ring.

When Cotto took that knee in 2008, it surprised me. I called around, talked to some of my boxer friends, and many of them were also surprised. None would out and out bust on Cotto for that move, but most said that if you want to be on that short list of pound-for-pound greats in any era, it does help to be willing to go out on that shield, to exhaust all hope and effort in the quest for victory.

This I am quite sure of: If I'm Cotto's kids, I'm happy to hear pop values being there for them over a ring victory.