One year after the handwrapping fiasco, where does Antonio Margarito go now?
We’re fast approaching the one year anniversary of when Antonio Margarito was found with an illegal gauze pad laced with a mystery substance buried in his hand wraps. This means that Margarito’s one year suspension from the sport of boxing is also coming to and end. To nobody’s surprise, there are many varying opinions on this hot topic. Did Antonio know the gauze was in his wraps? Was it truly an honest mistake as Margarito’s trainer claims? Was a one year ban enough of a punishment?
Those questions will always be up for debate and I’ve got my opinions but that’s not what this article is about. Margarito is most likely going to be reinstated into the sport of boxing shortly and he’s going to be looking for fights. Where does he go? What are his options?
Margarito, while being relatively quiet over the past year, has been quoted as saying that he wants to move right back into the title fold at welterweight. This will prove to be more difficult than he is anticipating and not just because fighters will be hesitant to fight a man who has been recently caught committing one of if not the most heinous crimes in the sport. Let’s review the options:
Shane Mosley is currently the #1 rated welterweight in the world (no, it’s not Manny Pacquiao). Mosley attained this status by destroying Margarito directly after the handwraps were found. Whether Margarito was distracted by getting his hand caught in the cookie jar or Mosley was just the better man, a rematch just isn’t in the cards. What’s in it for Shane? Mosley already put one of the most one sided whoopings in the calendar year onto “The Tijuana Tornado”. Combine that with the fact that Shane is already slated to fight undefeated star Andre Berto on Jan. 30 and a rematch just isn’t feasible at this point. For this reason I will also consider Berto out as a possible option for Margarito.
A Miguel Cotto fight makes a lot of sense in a lot of ways after the brutal (and now controversial) beating Cotto took at the hands of Margarito, the fight directly proceeding the Mosley fight where Margo got busted. Problem is that Cotto just took another beating at the hands of Manny Pacquiao and I don’t think Cotto is looking for another big time fight with another big time puncher at this time. That, and the fact that Cotto has stated multiple times that he will “not allow Antonio Margarito to make any more money off of my name”. Right on Miguel.
Manny Pacquiao and/or Floyd Mayweather? I’ll lump these two in together because I firmly believe that if this mega fight doesn’t get made for March, neither of these two fighters will take a fight where they could potentially lose and ruin the shot at 40-50 million dollars down the line when/if the two sides can reach a deal. Margarito would be a threat to beat both fighters so neither guy is going to chase Margarito down as a fallback opponent assuming Mayweather/Pacquiao doesn’t get made.
Paul Williams. I’m assuming at this point Margarito would love to avenge his close decision loss to Williams but at this point Williams has moved on to 154 and 160. Williams has stated that he’d be willing to come back to 147 for a top fight but I doubt that would include an opponent that he’s already beaten. Williams has not only moved on from 147 but I’m fairly certain he’s moved on from Antonio Margarito as well.
If Margarito is set on staying at 147, Joshua Clottey may be his best option. Margarito already beat Clottey a few years back but Clottey was winning the fight until he injured his hand and fell off in the later rounds. Margarito probably won’t be thrilled with giving a man a rematch that he’s already beaten but Clottey is a world class opponent, coming of a razor thin loss to Miguel Cotto, a fight that many thought that Clottey won. A win against Clottey may give title holders a reason to give Margarito a shot but will Margarito accept a fight against a top fighter that he’s already beat?
Assuming that Margarito isn’t able to snag himself a title short right off the bat, Margarito has 3 more feasible options. He can wait until one of these champions frees up and wants to fight him, he can swallow his pride and fight a second tier guy at 147 and work his way back up to title contention or, what I think he may do, choose to move up in weight class.
154, unlike 147, is an unheralded class at the moment and the champions within it are more likely to be looking to add a big name to their resume. Sergey Dzinziruk, the WBO champ is undefeated but unknown outside of Europe is always proclaiming that he wants to fight the best but for some reason he can’t seem to get the fights.
Margarito would easily be the biggest name that Sergey has fought to date. A win would be a huge step towards stardom. Yuri Foreman, the newest titleholder, appears willing to fight anyone as rumors are swirling that he could be on top of the list for a fallback opponent for Manny Pacquiao. Foreman has given no indication that he doesn’t welcome the challenge. If Foreman/Pacquaio doesn’t happen, Foreman/Margarito seems to make sense for both parties.
Whatever path Margarito chooses, it’s going to be very interesting to see what type of reception Margarito receives from boxing fans and it will be even more interesting to see what type of response he receives from his fellow boxers. Before the loaded wraps fiasco Margarito was one of the biggest stars and the biggest draws in the sport. It’s going to be a tough climb back to the top and it starts shortly so get your popcorn ready because it’s going to be very entertaining watching Antonio Margarito’s comeback unfold.