This is a couple of weeks late, but I just had to post something about the retirement of Antonio Margarito.
I’m not one of those writers who feels the need to single out specific fighters for attack. Some guys love to show their inner frustrated athlete and usually, if you pay close enough attention to the gigs they take and favors they accept, you can find a money trail leading to the reasons behind their trumped-up hatred.
No, I usually don’t single out fighters for scorn because, oddly in this business, I do understand the art of prizefighting and respect fighters for their work . But I can’t help myself when it comes to The Tijuana Sewer Rat, Antonio Margarito, and the disgrace he brought to himself, his heritage as a Mexican fighter, and to the sport in general.
Margarito appealed to some boxing writers, who championed his cause like starstruck cheerleaders, because he was a perfect, stereotypical representation of what they visualized when having wet dreams about Mexican fighters. But to me, someone who was in the trenches of the Mexican gym scene at the time, he was little more than a cartoon caricature. In the hardcore fight gyms of Mexico, volume punching is a kids game and the real pros work tirelessly on footwork, balance, smart counter-punching, and effective combinations–all things that Margarito never mastered, nor tried to master.
Essentially, Margarito was always a small middleweight with a good chin fighting at welterweight. He was one of those fighters who could coerce his body into an artificially low weight just long enough to get to the weigh-in. There was never much more to his game plan than– Be bigger, be stronger, and come forward. When someone flipped the script, he was in trouble. But smart matchmaking from his promoter, Top Rank, made sure that he was well-matched for as long as possible.
The most impressive thing about Margarito was always the hype job that somehow, overnight, turned a crude fringe champion with a very suspect resume into the “Most Feared Man in Boxing.”
Bob Arum would use Floyd Mayweather’s migration from Top Rank in 2006 to create the impression that Mayweather was running from Margarito. Arum would even issue a bogus fight offer from Margarito to Mayweather. And, despite the fact that it would’ve been legally impossible and logistically retarded to make such a deal, too many people fell for the con job and a myth was born.
Then, of course, there was the black cloud that Margarito brought upon himself when he was busted with loaded knuckle pads prior to his 2009 bout with Shane Mosley. It was a heinous act that brought out the true coward in the man, a villainous attempt at cheating that cast a dark cloud of suspicion over all of his previous performances.
I remember being smack dab in the middle of the Margarito promotional push and thinking aloud how someone with such horrendous footwork and who was throwing nothing more than arm punches could cause so much physical harm to his opponents. It didn’t make sense, but as fighters had parts of their face ripped off (Sebastian Lujan’s ear) and others said that Margarito’s punches felt like bare knuckle shots (Kermit Cintron), I was vociferously calling BS on the louse– much to the annoyance of those who had bought into the hype.
Later, of course, Mosley’s trainer Naazim Richardson helped bring Margarito to justice and the con was finally out of the bag. But “justice” is a relative term in boxing and the fraud of frauds would fight again despite a license revocation by the California State Athletic Commission and an appalling absence of remorse for his deeds.
I used to carry around a double standard when it came to what Margarito did and what PEDs users do. I don’t have that double standard anymore. What Shane Mosley, James Toney, Roy Jones, etc. did is just as bad as what Margarito tried to do (and may have done). But there was something extra insidious about Margarito.
Margarito openly mocked those who railed against him and defied the sanctions issued to him. He sneered and mugged in the face of what he did. He was the rich kid with all the right connections who just knew that he was above the law and got a rush out of letting you know it as well.
His last three years in the sport served as a testament to pretty much all that is wrong in boxing. He never copped to any wrongdoing, never lived up to the spirit of the sanctions dealt to him, and just went about his business, dealing in corrupt commissions and cashing in on the fans’ morbid curiosity. Ironically, Margarito’s two biggest paydays came after his disgrace (in bouts with Manny Pacquiao and a rematch with Miguel Cotto)– saying a lot about the sport and the mindset of too many fans.
Sadly, there are still those who revere the guy and refuse to accept the facts, even when they’re clearly presented to them. Some will swear up and down that being 7-1 with 6 KOs prior to Plaster Gate and then 1-3 with 0 KOs post-Plaster Gate proves nothing.
Some people just love to hold on to myths and will clutch at them even more tightly when someone manages to disprove them.
As for me, I know who Antonio Margarito is and what he was about. Good Riddance.
You can email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or watch as he ponders public salad tossing and desperate giveaways as a way to somehow become relevant. Paul is a full member of the Burger King Kids’ Club, a born iconoclast, and an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church.