'Call Em Out Fridays': Antonio Margarito - A rise to fame that burned to flames?

Shane Mosley30.01.09 - By Vivek Wallace: This weeks ‘Call Em Out Fridays’ segment takes a look at an individual whose recent actions have placed him under high scrutiny. For years he was viewed as one of the sports perennial figures, but suddenly, everything that made him famous is widely questioned, leading most to believe the end could be near. As we analyze this fighter, like any of my other ’Call Em Out Fridays’ segments, we take a look at all angles involved. A ‘supportive’ perspective, the ‘critics’ perspective, and in the end, to keep things fair and balanced we review a more ‘neutral’ perspective. So with no further ado, we now shift the focus of the spotlight to the Tijuana ‘tornado’, better known as Antonio Margarito.

Antonio Margarito - (Supportive perspective): For over 15 years now, the sport of boxing has been a safe haven which has served as a home away from the reality of life a poverty stricken life which practically molded Antonio Margarito Montiel.. Tired of a life that offered little more than an occasional ray of sunshine in the midst of much 'rain', Margarito decided at only the tender age of 15 to turn professional in an effort to assist a family that barely had a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. Initially, his move to the professional ranks wasn’t quite smooth, as he would lose 3 of his first 12 bouts. The hunger he developed for food in poverty apparently struck in unison with the hunger he would develop for success in the sport, as this boy quickly transformed into a man, not only withstanding the wrath of those in front of him, but evolving to a point in which he was able to deliver his own as it would later define his identity. Extremely active, very determined, hard-nosed, and granite-chinned; the Margarito blueprint was in full effect, and even the early losses he notched weren’t enough to slow his drive, as his eventual rise in the sport would become evident with each victory. By April of 2005, Margarito’s evolution had apparently come full swing as he made the most of exposure received on a rare and introductory ESPN pay-per-view moment, devastating the powerful and undefeated Kermit Cintron in only 5 rounds. At this point, his presence in the welterweight division was firmly felt, earning him the nickname “most feared man on the planet”, partly because he had become a name many had recently learned, yet adamantly refused to use. At the time, he was viewed as the most likely candidate to remove the ‘pretty’ from Floyd Mayweather's face, but the once thought to be missing flaws had become legible….which takes us to the ‘critics’ perspective on Tony.

Antonio Margarito - (Critics perspective): For all the upside witnessed in Margarito, the flaws would soon become equally as evident. Perhaps the biggest of them all, complacency in the form of frequent motivational lapses; Also known as the 'silk pajamas' theory. After his victory over Cintron, he would go on to defeat Manuel Gomez, and escape a tough outing against the rugged Joshua Clottey, but to some it came as no surprise that leading up to what would be his biggest challenge at the time, his hunger was in question. Whether it was a lack of motivation or not, no one knows, but by the end of the night, Margarito would suffer a loss to a fighter who viewed him as the proverbial 'jackpot', knowing that few others were willing to take such a risk in fighting him. After the brief moment of adversity to a man whose hunger rivaled his own, Margarito jumped back on the horse and began to re-write the memories, blasting through Golden Johnson and a still fearified Kermit Cintron. Those two solid outings put him back at centerstage in the sports deepest division where he would face the man most considered to be the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather jr, Miguel Cotto. In what remains the largest purse grossing fight of his career, Margarito would perform to perfection, stopping the Puerto Rican champ for the first defeat of his career in a watershed moment for him. With such a huge act to follow after the victory over Cotto, Margarito would find himself (according to close sources) facing motivational issues once again, as well as a brutally honest scale that reminded him exactly how long the road to greatness can really be. Lack of motivation and weight struggles apparently weren't enough to stop the show. After a 6 month layoff, Margarito earned another grand payday, but his opponents name ('Sugar') would be the only thing sweet that night, as he would suffer a devastating and potentially career stalling lost. Only this time, due to a hand-wrapping controversy that resulted in an indefinite suspension, the loss may not only be in the fight, but potentially the battle at life itself, as some feel charges to follow may even turn criminal. In a country known for second chances, we now shift the spotlight to a more neutral perspective on Margarito to support this arduous balancing act.

Antonio Margarito - (Neutral perspective): When you really sit back and analyze the evolution of Antonio Margarito, a few things become evident. Relative to the whole complacency and lack of motivation argument presented by the critics, if I could play devils advocate here, you have to wonder how easy it would be for anyone to become complacent when you're the literal equivalence of a modern day "rags to riches" storyline. I don't think any of us truly know if Margo became complacent based on his new found fame and extended bank account, but there's a huge difference between a man who was once hungry, and an opponent who's still 'starving'. It was the efforts of those opponents that got them the nod over Margarito, not alleged complacency, or anything else. I think you have to commend him as a man who took a life that gave him nothing and found a way to turn it into something. If for no other reason, he deserves a certain level of respect for that. Where that respect becomes neutralized is the fact that recent questions raised unfortunately aren't questions many care to have answered. Did he cheat? If so, for how long? All of the hypotheticals that have come about as a result of the alleged hand-wrapping controversy have gone a long way in setting a certain tone in the court of public opinion. The old adage states that one is innocent until proven guilty, but that theory is about as far away as the stashed evidence of his alleged past wrongdoing, if such was the case before the recent discovery. No one can deny his hunger and drive to succeed, but using illegal methods to maintain that level of success would go down as the ultimate 'eraser' in a career that up until now had been beautifully scripted - despite its regular adversity. With his future and possibly his freedom hanging in the balance, we all remain eager to see what piece of information will spring forward and tip the scale in one direction or the other. Until that moment, I think it's important for each of us to withhold judgment, for in the end, only the words of the commission will matter. He either did it or he didn't, and even though it won't erase his past, it'll surely define his future. With or without the sport of boxing. With or without the support of its fans.

(Got questions or feedback: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at and 954-292-7346, follow his work at 8CountNews and The Examiner, or show him some love at Myspace).

Article posted on 30.01.2009

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