Antonio Margarito doesn't have much left in the ring, but what he does have, we'll likely see beaten out of him. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Though Julio Cesar Chavez Jr hasn't even gotten past his next hurdle -- an HBO fight on February 4 with veteran Marco Antonio Rubio -- there are already talks about what he'll do after that fight, giving the impression that Top Rank is either extremely confident that Rubio can't or won't beat Chavez, or giving the impression that everyone involved is overlooking Rubio. Take your pick.
But the thing being made most clear, even though it isn't being outright said, is that Top Rank has taken a position of arrogance when it comes to the WBC's supposed mandate that Chavez must fight Sergio Martinez next. They're making it almost too obvious that they have no fear of the WBC actually stripping Chavez of his middleweight title belt, and that they don't believe the sanctioning body will seriously make Chavez fight anyone. Too much money, too much clout. Top Rank is boldly ignoring that Martinez exists and that the WBC keeps saying the fight has to happen, basically brushing it all aside.
Miguel Cotto has already been mentioned as a possible option for Chavez on a July date, unless Cotto is chosen to fight Manny Pacquiao (or Floyd Mayweather) and wants to fight Manny Pacquiao (or Floyd Mayweather).
Now a couple new names have come up, reports BoxingScene.com's Rick Reeno. Well, one is new, another has been mentioned fairly recently. The new one is Anthony Mundine, the outspoken Australian fighter who recently signed a deal with manager Cameron Dunkin.
The other is Antonio Margarito. Margarito was brought up as a potential opponent for Chavez prior to his December loss to Miguel Cotto, when Arum flat-out stated that he'd like to make a Chavez vs Margarito fight, for obvious reasons (there's money in it, and would have been real money in it had Margarito beaten Cotto).
Chavez (44-0-1, 31 KO) would actually be a pretty significant step up in competition for Mundine, who turns 37 in May. Arum likes that fight because of the Australian TV money. For all the points I might make about his lack of credible opposition over the years or the fact that he seems to talk more about tough fights than actually seriously approach them, I'll never bash Mundine for not marketing himself effectively. He's definitely done that.
Margarito (38-8, 27 KO) is an obvious fit, and let's not sugarcoat this: Top Rank is going to milk Margarito's name value as much as possible, because he's got maybe two or three legitimate fights left.
Margarito turns 34 in March -- he's getting old-ish for a boxer in the first place, but when you take into account the physical toll on his body, particularly that right eye which is never going to be in truly good shape for a fight again, he's very, very close to the end of the road as a serious fighter, and I mean that he will still get a couple of serious fights like this one. As an actual fighter with a chance to win those serious fights, I believe he's toast. Burnt. In fact, right now, no matter what he does against Rubio, I'd pick Chavez to beat Margarito hands down.
Do the Margarito or Mundine ideas interest you? Do you think they're competitive fights? Could you see either man defeating Chavez at this point?