Antonio Margarito last beat a quality opponent on July 26, 2008 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to become the WBA Welterweight Champion. That fight was against Miguel Cotto, who Margarito (38-7, 27 KO) fights this Saturday in the rematch at Madison Square Garden. Boxing is strictly a business and because of that, fighters who fill seats and sell pay-per-views get big time fights. The notorious Antonio Margarito is that, for better or worse.
This time around, the well-documented history between he and Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) makes Saturday’s fight a must-watch. Margarito certainly didn’t earn the big pay day he’ll get on Saturday with his recent in-ring form. Since the now-controversial win over Cotto in ‘08, Margarito has gone 1-2 and hasn’t done much to prove that he’s still one of the sport’s elite . Here’s a closer look at Margarito’s last three bouts heading into Saturday’s clash:
November 13, 2010 – Manny Pacquiao UD-12 Antonio Margarito
A lot of people thought this fight was a sham because Margarito really didn’t deserve a chance to fight Pacquiao, at the time the undisputed pound-for-pound king, and cash in after his handwrap controversy. But the state of Texas was willing to grant Margarito a license, and Top Rank’s Bob Arum was able to match Pacquiao with an in-house opponent and sell it as an action fight. There was some action but it was mostly one-way traffic, with the Cowboys Stadium crowd witnessing a thorough beatdown by Pacquiao that really should have been stopped at some point in the late rounds. Despite looking like a titan next to the diminutive Pacquiao, Margarito was achingly slow, and Pacquiao connected all night. Pacquiao won on scores of 120-108, 118-110 and 119-109.
The beating had serious ramifications and directly impacted Saturday’s fight with Cotto, as Margarito suffered a broken orbital bone that required surgery. When Top Rank decided to bring Cotto-Margarito to Madison Square Garden, it took until just a week ago for the state to grant Margarito a license, forcing him to be evaluated by doctors of its choice. If you take a look at this photo, you see why the state had reservations concerning his right eye.
May 8, 2010 – Antonio Margarito UD-10 Roberto Garcia
It’s been a long time since Margarito defeated anyone in a boxing ring. This was his last win, as he defeated Garcia by a wide unanimous decision. It’s hard to judge Margarito at all by this fight, given that he’d had a lot of time off and Garcia isn’t a world beater. But Margarito didn’t have any trouble, knocking Garcia down in the first round and cruising on scores of 99-89, 100-88 and 99-90.
The fight took place in Mexico, as Margarito at the time couldn’t get a license to fight in the United States because of the handwrap controversy. It was his last victory, and it was a very long time ago.
January 24, 2010 – Shane Mosley TKO-9 Antonio Margarito
Margarito was six months removed from the greatest win of his career, stopping Cotto in the 11th round of their first fight, one of the fiercest battles of recent times. Margarito had catapulted himself to the top of the boxing world as one of the sport’s most feared and avoided fighters. He was supposed to walk over Mosley, who, 37 at the time, came into the fight as a 4-1 underdog.
It was a whitewash, but it was Mosley who flipped the script and battered Margarito around the Staples Center for nine merciless rounds. It should have never reached the ninth round, as Mosley closed the eighth with a barrage that would have knocked out most guys. Margarito did answer the bell for the ninth, but it didn’t take long for referee Raul Caiz to step in, simultaneously with the towel from Margarito’s corner, as a helpless Margarito was out on his feet up against the ropes, taking vicious shots from Mosley.
Of course, we all know that Margarito entered the ring against Mosley after being caught by Mosley’s trainer Naazim Richardson with a plaster insert in his handwraps prior to the fight. Whether or not that played with Margarito mentally, we’ll never know. Had Margarito been using the loaded gloves in the past? Most have speculated as so, even without proof, and many point to his awful performance against Mosley where he struggled to land any meaningful shots as evidence. Whether or not that’s fair is up for debate, as it’s possible that he was more mentally affected by being caught than physically affected.
But there is no doubt that your punches will inflict more damage if your gloves are loaded than if they aren’t. And they won’t be this Saturday when Margarito faces Cotto. Since their battle in 2008, Margarito hasn’t shown much. He’ll have to do a heck of a lot Saturday if he wants to see his hand raised at the end of the night.