Mexican warrior Antonio Margarito returned to action for the first time in four years last night, and in his homeland and there was a huge, 10,000 crowd on hand to see what the former champ had left. With Mexican legends Julio Cesar Chavez (doing commentary for TV) and Marco Antonio Barrera watching from ringside, the 37-year-old showed he still has heart and courage, but little else.
Margarito was knocked down by a Paez combination in the 6th-round yet he fought back well. Margarito gave slightly more than he took over the ten rounds, winning by close but unanimous decision. The scores were 97-93, 96-93 and 95-94. “Tony” is now 39-8(27). Paez Junior is now 39-8-2(23)
Facing the much younger Jorge Paez Junior at light-middleweight, Margarito went toe-to-toe with the man nearly ten years his junior. The action was entertaining in the form of a fan-friendly slugfest, but Margarito – once capable of beating the likes of Sergio Martinez, Miguel Cotto (with or without loaded gloves is up to you) and Joshua Clottey – should not have needed to dig as deep as he did to beat a fighter with a 39-7-2 record. This is not to disrespect Paez Jr, who came close to winning last night, but the Margarito we remember would surely have stopped him. But how much of the old Margarito we love – or hate, depending on your view – is left today?
Margarito insists he is not back for the money and that his eye, so badly battered by Manny Pacquiao and then Miguel Cotto in their rematch, is fine. Fans have their doubts on both issues. Still, Margarito won, he proved he can still bring in the fans and he is still capable, at a certain level, of giving his fans action.
What the next step in the comeback might be is anyone’s guess. Maybe Margarito will look back at a tape of the fight and decide he just doesn’t have it any longer. Certainly, the one-time welterweight monster who, legend has it, Floyd Mayweather Junior wanted nothing to do with back in the day, was nowhere to be seen.
Bob Arum, in speaking with Ring Magazine prior to last night’s fight, said that if Margarito won, he would consider bringing him back to the U.S for a potential pay-per-view fight. Margarito won last night, but did he impress Arum?