Right after Antonio Margarito beat Miguel Cotto,I said of him, "[H]e honestly doesn't look like he's hitting all that hard, but he very much is." It was meant as praise. I've said it about other fighters.
We've found out why Margarito didn't look like he was hitting that hard but very much was.
All that talk, all the praise the boxing community gave him, all the heart he showed, that destructive late rounds power -- Antonio Margarito is a fraud.
For the most part I've tried to stay away from radical opnions on the matter, but now that the California State Athletic Commission has come forth with a finding of plaster on the knuckle pad that was taken in January, it's time to to go ahead and say all the following things:
- He cheated. Goodbye, you're banned. Never come back.
- OF COURSE he did it before. Watergate wasn't Nixon's first time. Lewinsky wasn't Clinton's.
- Yes, I will plainly state that I think he cheated against Miguel Cotto. Just because Evangelista Cotto "didn't notice anything" doesn't mean nothing was there. To use that as an excuse is to apologize for Margarito, a man who deserves no help from anyone in boxing. He's gotten enough help.
- He probably cheated against Cintron and many others, too. Everyone has a right to feel like they have an L they might not deserve. Cintron, Clottey, everyone.
No more defending. No more "well, what if." I said many times if it came back that it was just an illegal pad and it wasn't doctored up, yeah you maybe reconsider the one-year suspension, and I would've been happy to repent a bit and forgive the guy. But now that we know, it's over. I have zero respect for Antonio Margarito, I refuse to buy the line that Javier Capetillo attempted to commit a criminal act with Margarito's fist and without Margarito's approval, and even Bob Arum isn't so brash that he's sticking up for it anymore.
The folks like Arum that were forced into the position of defending Margarito were taken for a ride. Margarito may well fight in Mexico, but I get the feeling he'll do so without the backing of Top Rank. I also get the feeling he won't be as graciously accepted as he might've been before this came out. Mexican boxing fans are as proud as the fighters, and they aren't fools. They don't like being lied to, and they're no more in favor of cheating than anyone else, which is to say they'll see Margarito for the fraud that he is. Some may forgive him; they will be the minority.
Every good memory I have of Margarito is tainted now. Everything he's ever DONE is tainted now. His reputation cannot recover from this. If, by some crazy unexpected happening, he was reinstated by California in a year and came back and was 100% clean and pounded out great wins, I would still wonder every time if something wasn't up.
This is not about Antonio Margarito the person or the human being. Just the fighter. The fighter is a phony. But I don't think the man will be sleeping well any time soon, and I doubt it's been too easy for the last two months. He knew this was coming, because he knew what was on the pad. He also surely knows -- or will soon learn -- that this isn't something he'll live down, that people will forget, that will be swept under the rug. Everything he's ever done in a boxing ring is a question no one will ever answer unless he just starts naming fights where he used something.
Adios, Antonio. It's a shame it came to this, but you really have no one to blame but yourself.