Is Margarito Ducking Paul Williams?

Antonio MargaritoBy William Mackay: Since defeating Miguel Cotto two weeks ago, Antonio Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs) has been mentioned as being interested in a fight with newly crowned IBF welterweight champion Joshua Clottey, whom he already defeated two years ago by a 12-round unanimous decision. Strangely absent from the list of potential fighters for Margarito, however, is WBO welterweight champion Paul Williams. A year ago, on July 14th, Williams defeated Margarito by a 12-round decision. Although the fight was close, Williams proved to be the superior fighter on that night, beating Margarito at his own game of high volume punching and winning most of the early rounds of the fight.

Why now, after beating Cotto isn't Margarito going after Williams to try and avenge his earlier defeat? It seems like the logical thing to do, doesn't it? After all, Margarito has prided himself over the years as a fighter that believes in challenging all comers, especially if he has the last name of Mayweather. Instead of going after Williams in a unification match in a fight that many boxing fans would like to see, Margarito is turning in the direction of Clottey, a move that seems more regressive than a move forward for his career.

I'm certain that the fans will tune in regardless, as Margarito has turned into the new cash cow of boxing, but I'm more than a little displeased that he's not setting his sights on Williams, the bigger threat and the much more appealing opponent of the two.

Don't get me wrong, I think Clottey is a fine fighter, someone that is clearly in the top five in the welterweight division. But given the fact that Margarito has already handily beaten him in the past, I don't see the point of the fight. Though Clottey looked good in the early rounds of their fight in 2006, he faded horribly in the last six rounds, taking a lot of punishment along the way.

Later on it was revealed that he had injured one of his hands early in the bout, thus preventing him from fighting hard in the later rounds. Injury or not, Clottey would have had problems in the second half of the fight anyway, because of Margarito's nonstop punching, and I see the outcome as being nearly identical to what it ended up being.

So far as I know, Williams is the only fighter in the division that can come close to giving Margarito an honestly good fight. All the rest of them, including the recently retired Floyd Mayweather Jr., wouldn't be able to keep up with either of them with their huge punch outputs. If Margarito was truly smart, he wouldn't waste time with taking on retreads and would be focused on trying to get Williams back in the ring, to prove that the last defeat was merely a fluke.

Of course that doesn't appear about to happen, as now that Margarito has suddenly made it big, he's becoming just as selective as the fighters that he's replaced. Perhaps that's the way it goes, an unavoidable side effect of making it big, but it is more than a little disappointing to see it happening with Margarito, too. I donít know if Margarito could ever beat Williams, for he may have his number due to his long arms and slightly better work rate than Margarito, but I sure would like to find out.

Article posted on 11.08.2008

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