There is plenty going around tonight about the outrage stemming from a video that showed Antonio Margarito, Robert Garcia and Brandon Rios making fun of Freddie Roach's Parkinson's disease. Per The Ring, penned by Michael Rosenthal, Freddie Roach does not sound ready to accept apologies, and understandably so. He also, like many have, points out that he's affected by the disease because of his in-ring career.
"They made fun of me. It shows what kind of guys they are. ... The thing is, this is something boxers can get because it’s trauma related. They [Margarito and Rios] are in this sport and they don’t have good defenses. I just hope it doesn’t happen to them. I hope they don’t have to live my life."
The Margarito camp is trying to spin their way out of the situation, but are offering apologies. Here's what Garcia had to say:
"It happened. I can’t do anything about it now. That’s why I apologized. It wasn’t right. I feel bad about it. We never meant to make fun of him or anyone else with Parkinson’s disease. That’s not me. People know I don’t talk bad about anyone."
The issue here, of course, is that it was him. And apparently he does.
Rios, who like Margarito trains under Garcia and will be fighting on Saturday night, was also apologetic. He says that he wouldn't want to insult someone with a disease (even though he did), and says that he has people in his family who are handicapped. But this happened. This wasn't make believe. This isn't some rumor. This really happened and everyone saw it.
Margarito tries to use the defense that FanHouse came up with for him in their edited video, posted after the original was pulled, saying he was trying to imitate Roach as being scared. Truthfully, I don't buy a shred of any of this. Not from Garcia, not from "Who Me? Couldn't Be!" Margarito, and not from Rios. In Lem Satterfield's FanHouse article, this is how Garcia explains it from Rios' point of view:
"He didn't know Freddie Roach had a disease. He thought that it was from those 13 losses that Freddie Roach had as a boxer."
So what Garcia is saying is that Rios believed that Roach did not have a disease, but that he has tremors "from those 13 losses" that Roach suffered in his boxing career. Now without meaning to be combative about this, is Rios an idiot? I think that's a fair question at this point. Does he think you get tremors if you lose over 10 fights and that it isn't anything neurological? Are we supposed to buy that?
Roach isn't buying it:
"Do I believe that they didn't know that I had Parkinson's? Please. That's an excuse. It wasn't really an apology, it was just a cover-up. Robert Garcia is not a classy guy. He's not a good guy. He's a fake, and that's all that I have to say. Brandon Rios is a good young fighter, and I like him for that, and so forth, but as a person, he's an ass."
In the FanHouse article, Bob Arum also offered his thoughts, and doesn't seem pleased to say the last. The quotes used here are just the tip of the iceberg. Make sure to check out the original articles.
Let me sum up how I feel about this, because there are a lot of people who will say, "Oh, it's not such a big deal," or "Oh, everyone's too PC." The reality is that this is a truly personal matter. This isn't like how it was "personal" between Oscar de la Hoya and Fernando Vargas. This is hurtful, shameful, pointless stuff. And the worst part is, the Margarito camp isn't even bold enough to just own up to what they did and stand by it, and screw you if you don't think their antics are funny or whatever. Instead, they spend the next day with excuses so transparent that a four-year-old wouldn't buy the stories. Their excuses are such that they're basically hoping everyone is stupid enough to buy it. They're basically calling everyone stupid just by suggesting things like "we didn't know Freddie Roach had Parkinson's disease" or "no, it was a misunderstanding, I was being Fraidy Cat Roach, not a guy with Parkinson's disease." I can't expect that anyone with any intelligence believes in their apology. The whole incident was classless and is almost certainly a real reflection of the personalities of those in question.
I like watching Brandon Rios fight. I hope he makes a name for himself by continuing to be the fighter he is, and hope that he can erase something that maybe was just a tremendously big error in judgment. Robert Garcia is simply someone that should know better, and he can say, "I wouldn't allow that in my gym" all he wants, but the fact is it clearly happened on video in his gym, and he egged it on. If Rios didn't know that Roach had Parkinson's, then Garcia is saying he did know, yet he pointed and laughed and went right along with it. It's documented.
As for Margarito, I honestly can't wait for him to be out of the boxing spotlight. He didn't earn this return, got licensed by a commission that has proven time and again to be lax on standards, and if you recall the last time he was on a big stage, it was the beginning of a shameful process that gave boxing its ten millionth black eye. Hopefully for boxing's overall standards -- which aren't high to begin with -- Margarito heads off into the sunset after Saturday's fight. But he won't, of course. Everybody knows who he is by now.
You wanna know who's truly "earned" something here? Freddie Roach. He's earned a lot better than this. He's a class above this week's foes, no matter what happens between he and Garcia's fighters on Saturday.