How Great Was Antonio Margarito?

By James Slater - 03/18/2024 - Comments

How great was Antonio Margarito? The very asking of such a question might in itself be something of a sin, and you of course know why. “Tony,” the ultimate bad guy of boxing over still-recent times, committed the ultimate sin in attempting to enter the ring with loaded wraps, this for his losing fight with Shane Mosley.

The fact that Margarito was busted, by “Sugar’s” trainer, Naazim Richardson, wasn’t the full story. We still do not, to this day, know if Margarito got away with cheating in previous fights. We will never know. Miguel Cotto, stopped by a rampaging Margarito in an epic from July of 2008, this in the Mexican’s fight prior to being stopped by Mosley, is certain Margarito fought with tampered gloves, or wraps, that night.

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There are other fighters who shared a ring with Margarito who are suspicious, including Kermit Cintron, who twice got stopped by Margarito. Again, we will never know, but Margarito insists to this day that he was no knowing cheat, with the shamed fighter preferring to let his trainer, Javier Capetillo, take the blame.

But Margarito, prior to becoming forever known by his highly unofficial nickname of “Margacheato,” was one heck of a fighter. Today, “Tony,” long retired, his eyesight in question ever since 2012 (with Margarito nevertheless rolling the dice by launching a 2016 comeback) celebrates his 46th birthday.

But is Margarito’s ring career worth celebrating?

Going pro in January of 1994, in Tijuana, Margarito, aged just 15, would soon be thrilling fans with great action fights. Later still, Margarito would find himself first challenging for, and then winning, world titles. Margarito, who picked up a good win that later became more prominent, this over future champ Sergio Martinez, then boxed a no-contest with Daniel Santos. In his second shot at the WBO welterweight title, Margarito stopped Antonio Diaz in 10; this the fight that Margarito would years later tell Ring Magazine was his proudest moment.

After three retentions, bogeyman Santos took the belt in a rematch, this via a technical decision. But Margarito’s run as WBO champ was not over, with his biggest – and most notorious – fights still to come. Solid wins over Cintron and Joshua Clottey saw Margarito defend the belt, while tall puncher Paul Williams defeated Margarito via decision in 2007.

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Prior to the loss to “The Punisher,” Margarito was put forth by Top Rank as a foe for Floyd Mayweather. Reports informed us how Mayweather declined the fight. As per a article, Mayweather was offered the princely sum of $8 million.

Rebounding after the Williams defeat, Margarito, now aged 30, smashed Cintron again, the repeat win seeing him claim the IBF welterweight title. Then came Margarito’s biggest win, the 11th round stoppage of Cotto in what was a great fight. Now the WBA welterweight ruler, Margarito was a genuine fan-favourite.

But then came the Mosley controversy/disgrace. And “Tony” would never, ever be looked at in the same way. Mosley, who fought one of his best fights, cracked Margarito’s rock of a chin for a ninth round stoppage win. Margarito, his reputation equally blasted due to the wraps scandal, didn’t fight again for 16 months.

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When he did come back, the fans not trusting him, Margarito was not the same force. Beaten up badly by Manny Pacquiao in 2010, this despite outweighing Pac-Man by a considerable margin, Margarito’s face took a fearful hammering, his eyesight really suffering. A rematch with Cotto saw Margarito pulled out after nine rounds, his right eye a hideous mess.

Retirement, and a permanent one, seemed to be Margarito’s sole option. But, after over four years out, a faded Margarito came back, with him winning three fights but not looking at all impressive in either bout.

Margarito exited for good whilst sporting a 41-8-1 no contest (27 KO) record.

So how great was Margarito? Was he ever great? How many of Margarito’s big fights were on the level, fought fairly, with no tampering of either his wraps or his gloves, or anything else? To repeat, we will never know. As such, we can’t say how great Margarito was, or if he was ever great.

Bringing shame on oneself is perhaps the worst sin any fighter can commit. And when we look back on Margarito’s career, it really is shame this exciting, tougher than tough and talented warrior is destined to be forever remembered as a shamed human being.

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