Margarito looks to make a statement

Don't bother asking Mexican boxer Antonio Margarito about the talk that he was avoiding a welterweight showdown with four-time world champion Shane Mosley.

He is mildly amused of suggestions that he was "afraid" of Mosley and losing his title.

"I just laughed because I've wanted to fight Mosley for the last three years," said Margarito in an exclusive telephone interview with Vida en el Valle last week. "I've been wanting to fight him for a long time."

That time will come Saturday (Jan. 24) when Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs) defends his World Boxing Association championship against Mosley (45-5, 38 KOs) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The 12-round bout will be televised by HBO.

The 37-year-old Mosley is also hearing questions, but they center on his boxing future and a World Boxing Council investigation into his alleged use of steroids.

"I'm not paying attention to what's going on with that. I just block it out," said Mosley.

The common denominator between the 30-year-old Margarito and Mosley is Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto. Margarito took the WBA title away from Cotto last July; Cotto snapped Mosley's five-bout winning streak with a unanimous decision victory in 2007.

Margarito, who grew up in Tijuana, Baja California, is taking Mosley seriously.

"He is a great champion and a great fighter, and I am not going to underestimate him," said Margarito. "I've always wanted to fight the best fighters in the world. And I have that opportunity now to fight him."

Mosley, in published reports, diminishes Margarito's win against Cotto.

"Cotto was not familiar with what Margarito brought to the table," said Mosley. "I know how to go to the body as well. I have fought a lot of Mexican fighters and I know their tempo and style. I don't just box, I can fight as well."

Margarito sees his win against Cotto differently.

"Without a doubt, the Cotto fight was the best in my career," said Margarito. "Now, I'm the best one. So I must prepare for the all the fighting styles, and this preparation will make me a winner."

The Margarito-Mosley bout was almost derailed, according to various reports, because Margarito balked at any deal that did not guarantee him more than half of the $2 million purse. HBO stepped in and raised the ante.

Mosley is confident because he has yet to lose to a Mexican boxer, and because he feels at home at the Staples Center thanks to a 2000 win there against Oscar De La Hoya. Mosley also has a 2003 win in Las Vegas over De La Hoya.

Promoters -- De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions and Bob Arum's Top Rank -- are billing the bout as the biggest of the new year.

In one of the undercards Saturday, Gilroy's Robert Guerrero will face Edel Ruiz of México in a 10-round, super featherweight bout. This will be Guerrero's first fight in nine months due to successful arbitration related to his desire to break off from Goosen Tudor Promotions.