Were we too hard on Antonio Margarito?

Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Antonio Margarito’s Retirement & Reflecting on his Status

Antonio Margarito retired this week and it seemed like the general tone of the public was “good riddance.” It’s difficult to remember a more reputation-damaging event than when Antonio Margarito got busted loading wraps for his fight with Shane Mosley. Ironically, Mosley retired the same week that Margarito hung ‘em up.

The almost simultaneous retirements provide an interesting parallel and contrast. Margarito’s retirement was met with feeling of vitriol, while Mosley seemed to get a good-natured sendoff. Mosley was caught up tin he whole Balco deal. He took roids unbeknownst to him, as he claims. Margarito claims the same thing. Is there a distinction? I guess it’s an easier task to sneakily rub roid cream on a guy than load plaster onto his wraps without him knowing, but isn’t that splitting hairs?

Credit: Chris Farina - Top Rank

Not only that, but as we know from the BALCO case, Mosley actually was “unknowingly” on the juice, as well as the performance enhancing drug EPO, in the second De La Hoya fight. Margarito got caught before anything really happened. And still, the media and fan venom for Margarito far exceeds what has been directed at Mosley. Strange.

Further, why does everyone assume that was a one-time deal for Mosley, while having no qualms about assuming every meaningful Margarito win should have an asterisk next to it? What is the distinction? If a guy uses PED’s, that is cheating. Loading wraps is cheating. Why is the wrap tamperer in this equation more likely to be a repeat offender?

Would you rather fight a guy juicing or a guy loading wraps? The answer is neither. They’re both underhanded and make an already-dangerous sport more treacherous and potentially fatal than it already is. I’m not sure if people are either too hard on Margarito or not hard enough on guys getting caught using.

I can understand the disgust and recrimination of Margarito and how he went from a fan-favorite to a marginalized figure in the sport. But even Mike Tyson was forgiven to some extent. And that’s for cannibalizing another man! There was no path to redemption available for Margarito. There was really nothing he could’ve done.

Fine. But now that Cotto gets to wave a wand and erase his loss to Margarito, can I stop hearing about how Mosley beat Oscar De La Hoya twice? Does Amir Khan get a pass for losing to Lamont Peterson? Does Jan Zaveck’s loss to Andre Berto still count? Does Victor Ortiz get more credit now for beating Berto? I mean, let’s either apply standards evenly or not apply them at all.

[Also Read: Steroid Use in Boxing & Nobody Cares]

I won’t deny that what happened before the Mosley fight makes Margarito a target for skepticism that could spread over his best wins. But he is no Panama Lewis. He didn’t maim anyone. There’s no Billy Collins in this story, but he catches so much hell that there might as well be. And if you count Cotto as a victim for the beating he took, you don’t know that for sure. If you think you can rightfully say that he was loading gloves against Cotto, then all cheaters’ wins should be drawn into equal question and I don’t see that happening. The only constant application of that standard that is in practice is the widespread disregard for Margarito knocking out Cotto.

This is not meant to scrutinize the career of Shane Mosley or to say that Margarito is a swell guy. I more or less look at Sugar Shane’s career at face-value. And he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a class act as far as I’m concerned. But to paint Antonio Margarito in the exact opposite light is a little harsh. When he was still fighting, it was understandable. But now that he called it quits, we have to struggle with how to really perceive the man and the fighter. You want to call him a scumbag and just shake the etch-o-sketch clean on his whole career, go ahead. But then we’re going to be here for a while because he’s not the only one who should be catching flack.

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11 comments

  1. “Too hard?” The guy was loading his padded gloves with a substance harder than his own knuckles. He very well could have killed somebody with his loaded gloves. If anything, we were too soft on him; he never should have been allowed to come back to boxing AT ALL!

    • Brett – I’m surprised they gave him back his license after a year: How can you not know that hands are loaded? Come on, it’s right in front of you!

  2. While I don’t think the sport is harsh enough on fighter who, like Shane Mosley, were caught doping, that in no way excuses Margacheato. His offense was objectively worse, and why that is the case can be summed up in two words: Billy Collins.

  3. Tito Trinidad was a bigger cheat at loading gloves.

  4. Your argument is moot, the spirit he took out of Cotto is irreplaceable and he should have been banned for life.

  5. Mosley & Margacheato both claim to be innocent. Mosley claims he didn’t know he was juicing & Margcheato claims he didn’t know that his wraps were being loaded. (IF) you had to give the benefit of doubt to one of these guys which one is more likely to be believable? Mosley unknowingly taking PED’s or Margacheato sitting in front of his trainer watching what was going on his hands? Hmmmm… sorry but to compare those 2 is ridiculous. Margacheato should definately have an asterisk next to his wins, only because EVER SINCE HE GOT CAUGHT LOADING HIS GLOVES HE NEVER WON A FIGHT AFTER except some bum he fought in Mexico while he was serving out his suspension in the U.S. And if you really think he didn’t use loaded gloves against Cotto i’ve got some swamp land here in Fl i want to sell to you.

  6. Just asking the question “are we to hard” on him shows a level of stupidity unheard of. He could have ended a life with those loaded gloves. He never should have been allowed to fight again. I realize that boxing is fading in popularity, but do we really need hacks like this writer making matters even worse?

  7. Antonio was a very tough guy. Slow, with heavy hands and a big heart. I don’t think it is right to assume he loaded his gloves every time he fought or won. On the other hand the visual evidence suggests he did load the night he fought Cotto. Miguel was never the same fighter after that night and his reaction to Antonio’s blows suggests there was something amiss.
    When Antonio was banned from the sport for a year – everybody’s favorite sleaze bag – Bob Arum – wanted Miguel to go down to Mexico to fight a rematch. Arum even suggested he believed Antonio did not know about his gloves when he fought Shane.
    We will never know the truth – Antonio is the only one who knows. But Cotto’s quick decline after the bout is enough evidence for me to believe Antonio loaded and hurt Miguel’s career.
    His retirement is not an occasion for celebration it’s a reminder for the need for close monitoring in our sport. And for me – Mosley is no hero either. I enjoyed watching Floyd take him out behind the woodshed and punish his tired behind. Let Shane and Antonio bunk together in the dark chambers of boxing history.

  8. Arum gave him a second chance by fighting Pacquiao: Then he was given another chance to fight Cotto ….. in those 2 fights, he should have made at least 8 million dollars: Now tell me why are we hard on him? …. he was given another chance and was able to make millions ….. how many of us have that second chance to score that kind of money? Due to his cheating, he deserves nothing from the Mexican community nor boxing fans. He got his money and that’s about all. He shamed his Mexican culture and was rude to Freddie Roach (laugh and teased him about his Parkinson desease) prior to the bout with Manny Pacquiao. So he got what deserves in the end… blind in one eye.

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