Margarito faces Jones, but wants third fight with Cotto

Former two-time welterweight world titleholder Antonio Margarito had his surgically repaired right eye hammered relentlessly in a 10th-round knockout loss to bitter rival Miguel Cotto in their animosity-filled rematch in 2011. But Margarito wants another fight with him.

Cotto retained his junior middleweight title in the bout and gained revenge for an 11th-round knockout loss to Margarito in a 2008 welterweight title fight that became highly suspect after Margarito was caught trying to enter the ring for his next fight, against Shane Mosley in 2009, with loaded hand wraps. Margarito had his boxing license revoked and was out of action for 16 months, serving his punishment.

He had the eye badly injured in a one-sided loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2010 and then lost to Cotto in the rematch before retiring. But Margarito, whose eye remains deformed, came out of retirement in 2016 and, though he has looked very shaky, has won two fights in a row, both by decision, against Jorge Paez Jr. and Ramon Alvarez (Canelo Alvarez's older brother).

As Mexico's Margarito (40-8, 27 KOs) prepares for the third fight of his return, a 10-round junior middleweight bout against Carson Jones (40-11-3, 30 KOs) on Saturday (beIN Sports Espanol, 11 p.m. ET) in Chihuahua, Mexico, he pines for a rubber match with Cotto.

"I'm at my best level in years and in condition to fight 10 strong rounds," Margarito said at Thursday's final prefight news conference. "This fight is important for my plan to again become world champion. I want to fight Miguel Cotto in a third and final fight and Jones will not stop me."

Puerto Rican icon Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) laid a beating on Yoshihiro Kamegai last Saturday night in a one-sided decision victory to win a vacant junior middleweight world title, the sixth world title of Cotto's illustrious career. He said he plans to fight again in December and then retire.

It is highly unlikely he would give Margarito, who held a welterweight world title from 2002 to 2007 and won a second belt in 2008, another fight. But that has not stopped Margarito from calling for it and aiming to show improvement against Jones compared to the past two bouts.

"We are going to win in a clear way," said Margarito, 39, who will be coming off a 13-month layoff since the Alvarez bout. "The fans are going to see the best version of Margarito and we are going to give you a great fight. I had a great preparation without any problems. I feel like I'm at my best. Power, speed and rhythm are like when I was world champion. I hope Jones comes to fight and not to run, and the fans will see a great fight that I'll win overwhelmingly."

Jones, 31, of Oklahoma City, is a journeyman opponent, but he has won three fights in a row and gave former welterweight titlist Kell Brook all he could handle in their very close first fight in 2012. He feels Margarito is ripe for the picking.

"I'm a better boxer, more speed, better rhythm and youth compared to Margarito," Jones said. "I not only come to win, I come to get into the world rankings and to retire an icon of Mexican boxing."