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16 months later, Antonio Margarito still stirring up emotions

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

"Gary Shaw is calling Antonio out to fight Alfredo Angulo. Lou DiBella is calling him out to fight Sergio Martinez. They’re all interested in bringing him back. I know some people say he doesn’t deserve his license back but real boxing people want him back. It’s like they need him back."

--Robert Garcia, new trainer for Antonio Margarito (The Ring)

My plan was to mostly ignore tomorrow night's Antonio Margarito fight with Roberto Garcia in Mexico, on Top Rank PPV in the States. But there have been too many "Margarito is BACK! Hooray!" articles, too many explaining why it's such a wonderful thing, too many glad-handing quotes where we talk about how darn dedicated he is.

There haven't been a whole lot of people willing to say out loud, preaching to a big, vocal choir, that they don't want to see this guy back in the ring. But that sentiment is out there. It's just not being presented all that much.

I love quotes like the one Garcia offers above in Michael Rosenthal's Ring piece. They're insults disguised as information. "Real boxing people want him back" -- oh, well then those who don't want him back must be chumps.

You know who doesn't have many "real boxing people," apparently? The California State Athletic Commission, which has not re-licensed the disgraced fighter. Nor does the Combative Sports wing of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, which turned down Margarito's application for a new license when Bob Arum tried to put Margarito on the Pacquiao-Clottey undercard in March.

Margarito has not been given a new lease on his career in the United States, and there's no real talk that he's going to be given one, either. California seems pretty aggressive about this. Most "blamed" California's input for Texas turning down Margarito.

Here's another one: you know why these promoters are "calling out" Margarito for their fighters? They think their fighters will beat a name guy with ease. DiBella, I guarantee, thinks Martinez will demolish Margarito at this point in their careers. Shaw probably sees Margarito as an aging, rusty and perhaps mentally scarred version of Angulo. Promoters try to make money on their fighters' fights, and they also try to keep their guys going with the easiest fights they can find that the public will believe in. Margarito being called out by promoters is no feather in his cap.

I do understand the folks that believe he's "done his time." But that's not the opinion of the commission that revoked his license, apparently. It was not a one-year suspension -- it was an indefinite suspension that would be revisited in a year's time. Well, it got revisited, and Margarito tried to jump past California and go through Texas, a boxing board known for its leniency in many cases. He was told thanks, but no thanks.

Margarito's return is being force-fed, no matter what the "real boxing people" apparently need. It's a fight in Mexico, against a 30-year-old junior middleweight from Welasco, Texas, who has an empty 28-2 record that looks decent in your advertising, and could damn sure use the money and the notoriety. There is nothing for Roberto Garcia to really lose in this bout. If Margarito wins, he was supposed to win. Either way, Garcia's about to make his best payday, and he has a chance to really get his name out there.

And nobody cares. Don't let these fluff pieces and bully quotes from Margarito's team or Top Rank tell you that this fight is some major event. It's not. It's the return of a fighter whose infractions are still incredibly fresh in the minds of too many boxing fans, who aren't ready to forgive, forget, and offer a welcome back hug to the poor fighter duped by his evil scientist trainer the last time he fought.

It may not be consistent with the way people have reacted to what are far worse convictions followed by returns to the ring -- Tyson, Spadafora, etc. -- but life's not fair. All real people will tell you that.

On another note, I do accept that Margarito is returning, and as it is part of boxing, whether I like it or not, we will talk about Margarito at Bad Left Hook. He is likely going to be a factor in the welterweight or junior middleweight divisions, if Arum can help it. I find it silly to ignore him as if he does not exist, when fact is he could be in a major fight sooner than later. If, for instance, Arum meets my expectation and makes Pacquiao-Margarito for this fall, I will buy that fight. I bought Mike Tyson fights, and I was no Tyson supporter then either. There are other examples of fighters I found a bit repugnant, but whose fights mattered enough that I bought them.

My personal coverage of Margarito may well become "nicer" over time, or maybe it won't. I don't know. I'm taking the situation as it develops, and for me personally, it has not developed to a point where I'm ready to talk about Margarito as if the elephant isn't in the room. What bugs me most has been some of the bizarre flip-flopping on Margarito; Freddie Roach, for instance, has offered several different opinions on the situation in the last 16 months. And I am not swayed, like many seem to be, by the allegation that Miguel Cotto or Shane Mosley are all rosy and willing to forgive him. Cotto has said point-blank that Margarito will never earn another dime to fight him, counting out the rematch that some of Margarito's staunch supporters insist Cotto badly wants. Mosley, as much as I like the guy, seems wishy-washy whenever he discusses the incident.

Also, if you want to offer a compelling counter-piece to this (or anything, really), feel free to write up a good FanPost, post it, and we might front page it. I know this subject is one that still stirs things up pretty well, so allow me to please ask the favor of not angrily re-hashing the same Margarito arguments we've all had for the last year-plus. Dissenting opinion is no problem, of course, so long as it's civil, and if you're one that really is happy to see him back, that's your prerogative and I'm not going to tell you that your feelings are wrong.

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