A Disgrace to Boxing…And A Few Other Personal Thoughts on Antonio Margarito

Antonio MargaritoBy Jason Peck: Cheer for Miguel Cotto, who gets his shot at revenge this weekend that I would deny against an opponent that I would gleefully ban for life. But cry for boxing, which didn’t set the example it should have with the dismissive punishment it gave to Antonio Margarito.

Margarito claims he knew nothing about the illegal knuckle pad that jeopardized his career two years ago when he fought Shane Mosley. His dastardly trainer did it, not he, and when the hammer fell Margarito made sure everyone else took the blame. We want to believe he’s telling the truth – that a man who for so long championed the “do or die” warrior mentality would ever stoop so low. Evidence says otherwise, and I’ll get to that later.

Now little more than two years later after committing boxing’s ultimate sin, he’s getting his second major payday, when he takes on Miguel Cotto in a rematch of the controversial 2008 bout – a fight now tainted with allegations that Margarito cheated in that fight as well. Prior to that he received a dream fight against Manny Pacquiao in a title shot he never earned. And the only danger to Margarito’s career is an eye injury, not his past transgression.

Honest fighters would kill for a Cotto fight. If cheating would earn unheralded welterweight contender Mike Jones a Pacquiao payday, then I’d heartily suggest he cheat. What other message is being sent here?

First off, let there be no doubt of Margarito’s dishonesty when he was caught with his hands loaded. I must refer to Kevin Iole of Yahoo!, who destroyed that lie so effortlessly that I must include the link at the bottom of this page.

In a devastating rebut, Iole recounted times when athletes in other sports noticed the weight difference from seemingly miniscule changes to their equipment. In one particular incident, he referred to minor league hockey players who could notice the 3-gream difference in their hockey sticks. Compare that to Margarito, who has boxed professionally since 1994, but SOMEHOW could not notice the added weight of the heavy knuckle pad. Iole further pointed out the uncanny rise in Margarito’s knockout ratio since he started fighting at a world level – evidence that the Mosley fight wasn’t a one-time crime.

Of course, Iole also argued that Margarito deserved reinstatement. I respectfully disagree on that point, and here his contribution must end.

I say that cheating in boxing is far different than cheating in any other sport like baseball. In baseball, the ball takes the hurt.

In boxing, that ball is another human being.

I find it rather disgusting that, at best, people treat his offense like he corked the bat or threw a spitball. No harm, no foul, and haven’t we all thought about cheating at some point or another? At worst, they forget it ever happened, or even treat it like a typical part of a checkered sport. Hell – Muhammad Ali did the rope-a-dope. Juan Manuel Marquez does the counter-punching. Antonio Margarito packs his hands with plaster – the better to bludgeon with. Ho hum.

So why are we having discussions about the “warrior mentality” that Margarito embodies? His supporters call his an iron man who would fight for a buck. Fine then! It sounds like a fair price!

And why is the first fight viewed free of controversy? Why are we acting as though Miguel Cotto is being unreasonable in his belief that Margarito cheated in their first fight?

Obviously, there’s no way of knowing 100 percent that Cotto’s suspicions are correct – nothing short of a time machine to the events of July 26, 2008 can erase all doubt. But logically, I believe there is absolutely NO WAY that he didn’t cheat. No freakin’ way.

Consider the story behind his fights with Mosley and then his fight with Cotto. In the Mosley fight – where Margarito was caught cheating – Mosley was the 4-1 underdog, and had turned in some recent subpar performances. By contrast, Margarito was the underdog going into the Cotto fight. Worse yet, Margarito desperately needed to prove he belonged among the welterweight’s elite after his disappointing loss to Paul Williams. His entire career was on the line in the single bout.

Now you mean to tell me Margarito would cheat in a sure thing, but…he WOULDN’T cheat in a fight where he was likely to lose and had everything on the line? I can’t believe it. Investigating his previous fights is a can of worms no commissioner would ever want to deal with.

Am I being unfair to Margarito? Maybe. But was he being fair to the fighters whose safety he endangered for his own personal glory. Quit talking like he’s an honorable man here.

Not even his biggest fans can admit that.

Article posted on 03.12.2011

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