Saturday night in Baja California, former world champion Antonio Margarito won his second fight in 2016, defeating Saul Alvarez’s older brother, Ramon, by split decision. Last March he defeated Jorge Paez Jr., in his first bout in nearly four-and-a-half years.
Margarito’s comeback can only be viewed as a Don Quiote pursuit at this point. He’s 38 and took significant punishment in his final two bouts, against Manny Pacquiao and Migul Cotto. After the eye damage he suffered against Pacquiao, he almost failed to gain medical approval to fight Cotto in New York. So far, both of his return fights have been in Mexico. I have my doubts about him getting licensed to fight anywhere north of Texas.
In the first decade of this century, he was a welterweight champion and one of the sport’s biggest attractions. He fought with a ferocious, pressure style. His Round 11 stoppage of Miguel Cotto in 2008 was a classic fight.
But in his next fight after defeating Cotto, Margarito was caught getting his hands wrapped in plaster, prior to his fight with Shane Mosley. Forced to fight without that unfair advantage, Margarito was badly out-classed. Mosley stopped him in nine.
While Margarito has denied loading his wraps for the Cotto fight, almost nobody believes him. Photos that show his hands after the bout certainly appear suspicious. The manner in which Margarito was able to come from behind and slowly break Cotto down is also convincing circumstantial evidence that he had some extra weight behind his punches.
And when a prizefighter is caught doing something as vile as loading his gloves, why would anybody believe that he’s only done it just once?
Margarito should have been banned for life. What he was caught attempting is a type of criminal assault. But Margarito was always good box office, so he got more chances to keep making money. He got battered silly by Manny Pacquiao. And his damanged eye was brutalized by Cotton in the December 2011 rematch.
I do not expect to see Margarito return to anywhere near the top of the sport. But criminals have always been welcome in boxing, so long as they can draw fans.