Antonio Margarito Set For Golden Johnson And The Future

antonio margarito05.11.07 - By Matthew Hurley: Upon winning the World Boxing Organization welterweight title in 2002 against Antonio Diaz (TKO 10) Antonio Margarito has been something of a polarizing figure among boxing fans. There are those who insisted from early on that he was the most feared welterweight in the division which accounted for opponents “ducking” him and then there were those on the other side who maintained right from the start that he was a slow starting, ponderous fighter whose competition spoke volumes as to his overrated status.

Everything came to a rather confusing conclusion for both sides in July of 2007 when he lost his belt to mammoth welterweight contender Paul Williams on a close unanimous decision. The haters said, “We told you so” while his defenders claimed he should have got the decision..

Wherever you stand on Antonio Margarito one thing is for certain, he is not overrated and he is not underrated – he’s right smack dab in the middle. He is one of those very good prize fighters who are not exceptionally good at any one thing but technically sound in just about every department. That balance in style doesn’t lend itself to fans who love a knockout artist or a flashy boxer. It does however establish a fan base with those who appreciate a stern work ethic and the ability to grind opponents down by sheer will. Antonio Margarito is the epitome of a blue-collar fighter – a ticket puncher who shows up for work everyday and gives you everything he’s got. He’s not flashy but he gets the job done.

Margarito’s first fight after the loss to Williams will come on a grand stage. He was fortunate enough to be included on the under card of the Shane Mosley – Miguel Cotto fight at Madison Square Garden on November 10th. He will take on Golden Johnson for the vacant World Boxing Organization Inter-Continental welterweight title. The randomness of title belts aside this is an extremely important fight for Margarito and it comes against a very good opponent. Margarito desperately wants a rematch with Williams or a rematch with former victim and current IBF welterweight champion Kermit Cintron who he knocked out in five rounds back in 2005. Should he lose it will be extremely difficult to get back into the title picture because he represents that peculiar fighter that truly does find it hard to get opponents in the ring with him – the proverbial high risk low reward fighter. He’s good enough to be wary of but his marquee value doesn’t match his reputation.

For Antonio losing is not an option. “In Golden Johnson I see a guy who likes to fight. I see a guy that comes to you and it will be great for me. It will be a great fight. There’s no other place for me to go but getting the win and I need to get the win. I expect to come out a winner.”

The fighter also laments his slow start against Williams and is intent on not making that mistake again. It’s a trait he has exhibited in many fights but it never cost him as dearly as when he lost his title.

“Without a doubt,” he says, “looking back it is very regretful the way I started so slow. After watching the tape I noticed how slow I started. The guy was throwing punches that were not effective. They were just a lot of punches. All I have to do is come out from the first bell and start throwing punches no matter where they land or how they land.”

The loss to Williams still seems to play on his mind but his attitude is not quite as embittered as it was when the decision was announced. He seems to have come to terms with it.

“At the time when I was fighting the fight I thought I was doing very well and I thought I was well ahead in the fight. But once I saw it on tape I can see where people would say, you know, maybe, the first few rounds I lost because he was throwing a lot of punches. Not that he was doing any damage with them but he was throwing a lot of punches. And I can see where the judges would be impressed by that. I got into a hole which I didn’t know I was in. I can see why he (Williams) did think he won the fight. I have no problem with that.”

So now Antonio Margarito will step into the ring not only with the intent of beating his opponent but doing so impressively in front of the biggest audience of his career. A spectacular performance could enhance his drawing power and will force not only a Paul Williams or a Kermit Cintron, who has expressed keen desire to get revenge on his one time conqueror, but also the winner of the Shane Mosley – Miguel Cotto fight into stepping into the ring with him. Mosley has said in recent interviews that he’s not looking at fighters like Margarito or Williams or Cintron in the future, only big name opponents like Floyd Mayweather, but Shane is a fierce competitor who has never turned down a challenge. Should Mayweather beat Ricky Hatton in December and then turn down Shane’s challenge Mosley won’t have many options left. Margarito is counting on that.

“I would definitely fight the winner (Mosley – Cotto). But I would love to fight Paul Williams again. You know, it’s up to Paul. If Paul wants me to do the rematch with him I guess that’s what we’ll do. But right now we’re talking about November 10th, getting a big victory, looking good, and then go see what we can do. Paul Williams will be there down the road and I’m sure if Paul wants to make a fight we’ll make that fight.”

Writer’s Note: Paul Williams is scheduled to fight Kermit Cintron on February 2nd, 2008.

Article posted on 06.11.2007

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