Antonio Margarito returns to the ring on May 26 in Arizona against a soft opponent. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Antonio Margarito will return to the ring on May 26 in Tucson, Ariz., facing Abel Perry at Casino Del Sol in a 10-round junior middleweight fight on TV Azteca.
For Margarito (38-8, 27 KO), this is sort of the signal that time and injury have probably caught up with him for good. At some point, he may land another significant fight or three, but the 34-year-old Mexican brawler has a left eye that is just not going to hold up against anyone who knows how to attack him and it, and while he was always slow, he's become painfully so since being demolished by Shane Mosley in January 2009. Margarito went from the biggest win of his career to a true also-ran within months -- we didn't know at the time that Margarito stunk, or that his accomplishments were frankly all suspect, but no matter how you slice it, he's just not a good fighter anymore. He has name value, but when you strip that away and seriously just look at what he does in the ring, he's a level above gatekeepers but two below contenders.
I don't say this with any joy or anything, I just think it's the reality of his situation. Margarito is going to probably be able to scrape out wins over guys like Perry (18-5, 9 KO), but that's probably about as far as his wins are going to go. He didn't have the busted-up eye when he beat Roberto Garcia in May 2010 in Mexico, when he chose to ignore his licensing situation in the U.S. and get a fight, because he knew, of course, that someone in the Stated would license him, and that someone was Texas, who led their big burly lamb into slaughter against Manny Pacquiao in November 2010, with Pacquiao's fists and Margarito's macho man corner team combining to obliterate whatever was left of Margarito's career as a really relevant fighter by allowing him to fight through a demolished orbital bone.
Whatever else you can say about Margarito that night, he was brave and he came to win. I don't know how much, if anything, he really had left in December when he returned against Miguel Cotto. His eye was obviously not close to a true 100%, but was probably legitimately good enough to be passed by commission medical standards, even with New York having higher standards (or claiming to, anyway).
Margarito's greatest value remaining in the ring is probably serving as a sacrificial lamb, to be completely honest. He's already had his name passed around for a fight with WBC middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, which is absurd as it takes away Margarito's biggest asset from his prime, where he was a huge welterweight, turning him into a small middleweight against a guy who's a very heavy middleweight. What on earth could anyone see Margarito doing with Chavez?
Top Rank doesn't have a lot of guys around those weights to really feed Margarito to, either. Vanes Martirosyan is at 154, but would he fight Margarito? Whatever Margarito is, he's a lot better than Troy Lowry and Richard Gutierrez. I mean, really, how far off are we from Top Rank and Margarito parting ways, and Margarito fading out with fights in Mexico against the likes of Saul Roman and Jose Luis Castillo on Telemundo?