(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
This is a FanPost promoted to the front page as a rebuttal (asked and received) for an article from last week.
While this post, frankly, does not agree with the viewpoints of myself or our other staff members, authors or moderators, alternate viewpoints are valued greatly on our site. We are also a community of fans first and foremost, and our readers are greatly encouraged to share civil arguments with us.
This situation, obviously, is one where many fans have extremely strong feelings. To this point, the stance on our front page has been harshly against the return of Antonio Margarito, and was entirely in favor of his banishment last year. But we intend to represent more than just ourselves, and if our coverage was entirely anti-Margarito, I would feel a bit less than complete in our handling of the situation.
To put it simply, we are not offering this as the view that our site has. This is, however, our community's interaction at its best. It is an argument on a controversial subject not given with inflammatory intent, but rather to be responded to itself, agreeable or not. We do not expect this article to be popular, but the author was kind enough to share it with us, and I have personally made the decision to front page it.
--Scott Christ, Managing Editor, Bad Left Hook
Saturday saw the return of Antonio Margarito after a lengthy 16 month layoff. The 'Tijuana Tornado' eased to a near shutout 10 round UD over the tough Roberto Garcia in front of a huge crowd at Aguacalientes.
Following his brutal knock out defeat at the hands of Shane Mosley last January, the boxing world was shocked as Nazeem Richardson discovered a pasty white substance on Margarito's hand wraps, later revealed to be 'Plaster of Paris'. Margarito and his trainer Javier Capetillo consequently received a minimum one year suspension for illegal wraps.
The whole debacle has brought Margarito's whole career into question and left his legacy disgraced. Many have called for him to be given a life ban and have refused to show forgiveness. His actions were inexcusable but a degree of perspective is required.
A number of boxing fans incorrectly compare Margarito and Capetillo's actions to those of Luis Resto and Panama Lewis which ended the career of welterweight prospect Billy Collins. While it is true that Resto's hand wraps were dipped in plaster, this was performed as an addition to the removal of two ounces of padding from Resto's gloves. It was for the latter offence that both Lewis and Resto were convicted and why the tragic fight lives in infamy. Some would have you believe that the actions of Luis Resto and Antonio Margarito are the same which is nigh on ridiculous.
Resto and Lewis have never been forgiven and many have also shown the same attitude towards Capetillo and Margarito. What interests me is the selective forgiveness of analysts and fans and how selectively they retain and use information.
Margarito intended to use 'Plaster of Paris' to gain a physical advantage and punch harder in the ring. His actions are no different from his opponent at the Staples Centre that night, Shane Mosley. PED's are as dangerous if not more so in having the potential to allow a boxer to inflict fatal injury, yet most fans offer their forgiveness to the likes of Shane Mosley, James Toney (twice), Fernando Vargas and Roy Jones.
Not only have these fighters been forgiven, but their sins have almost been forgotten by most. Their legacies and the legitimacy of their victories has never been called into question. These fighters will be future Hall of Famer's yet Margarito gets tarnished with an entirely different brush. How can anyone be a fan of any of the aforementioned fighters, and then so vehemently express their anger at Margarito?
Numerous analysts have concluded that Margarito doesn't deserve forgiveness due to his lack of remorse and his continued claim that he was unaware of what was contained within his hand wraps. In addition some have argued further that if he just apologised then maybe the boxing world can forgive him. But the same expectation has not been required of others. By nature an apology can only come with an admission, and how many fighters who have actively used PED's issued apologies and admitted outright to be seeking an advantage.
Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO claimed Mosley was aware he was using PED's, whilst Mosley claims he was unaware. Toney on his second offence claimed his water bottle had been tampered with. Fans and analysts choose to believe outlandish excuses by certain fighters and provide these fighters a pass, but do not extend the same privilege to Margarito. Mosley is a stand up guy for saying he didn't know he was on PED's whilst Margarito is a criminal, unworthy of forgiveness for stating he didn't know what was cased inside his hand wraps?
Similarly there has been no attempt to question the legitimacy of any victories achieved by Mosley, Toney, Vargas or Jones, whilst every attempt has been made to discredit every one of Margarito's achievements. One would have you believe that his only asset is his power. Every fight post Santos II has been questioned by fans and analysts alike.
The main fight in question is the 2008 FOTY contender war with Miguel Cotto. To attribute his victory over Cotto solely to 'Plaster of Paris' is absurd. Margarito has a truly granite chin and his ability to both withstand and land power shots enabled him to eventually overwhelm Cotto. Cotto landed an incredible 179 power shots, and Margarito just walked through them. The Mexican's conditioning and stamina have always placed him head and shoulders above most in the sport. He threw 987 punches against Cotto and holds the Compubox record of a crazy 1675 punches thrown against Joshua Clottey.
The naturally larger Margarito wore down Cotto by hounding him relentlessly, forcing Cotto to constantly move and eventually tire. What Margarito's detractors fail to acknowledge is he landed an astonishing 237 power punches. Whatever Cotto mustered, Margarito handled and continued the pressure forcing Cotto to wilt. Many a fighter with loaded gloves would not have been able to do what Margarito did to Cotto. Having the ability to land and take as many punches as Margarito did commands respect for his abilities. He fought an outstanding fight.
The suggestion is not that Margarito did not load his gloves before the Mosley bout. That will forever remain a mystery, just as it is unclear how long Shane Mosley and others used PED's. However in Margarito's case it is highly improbable that both opposition trainers and commissioners stood and watched Margarito's hands being wrapped, signed off on them being acceptable, and missed signs of a white substance every time.
Again things need to be put in perspective. If individuals were to exercise the same cynicism for other boxers as they have for Margarito then maybe a few more careers would be questioned. Fans and analysts should exercise more consistency in their judgements.
This is not a defence for Margarito. The actions of Margarito and Capetillo were deplorable but no more deplorable than the actions of other fighters who have been handed out less stringent punishments and been forgiven by the boxing public. Margarito does not deserve to have his whole career put under the microscope any more than other sinners. If he were to have been banned for life for his actions I would have no problem providing that those who have committed acts such as PED offences were dished out the same punishment. But we forgive other fighters, why not Margarito?
With or without loaded gloves Margarito is a fighter with a lot of ability and will be a tough contender for anyone providing he moves back down to welterweight. Prior to this incident he was one of the most feared boxers on the globe. He was a warrior who took on the best in Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Paul Williams, Joshua Clottey and Daniel Santos. He has made his mistake, completed his suspension and has made his return albeit only in Mexico.
This incident shouldn't erase or cast doubt on his past. If rumours are true and he is being lined up as Manny Pacquiao's next opponent he has a perfect opportunity to create a new future. He can show us again how good a fighter he is, and put this incident behind him and maybe in time gain forgiveness from the boxing world.