Margarito in the Park with Antonio

BY Rick Folstad ON November 29, 2006
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It’s a little early to erect a statue.

He’s not a legend yet or a superstar or even a household name that might be discussed over dinner.

Outside of boxing circles and his home country of Mexico, he’s about as well-known as your local grocer or the guy who delivers your mail.

But he is very good and very dangerous and he is moving up. And if everything falls into place, Antonio Margarito’s name will someday find a little breathing room up there in the rare air next to names like Mosley, Trinidad and even De La Hoya.

Margarito’s problem is, he’s too good and still too unknown. He’s a high-risk fighter with a low-income name.

You don’t want to fight a guy like that. Too much downside. He can drop you off on Dizzy Street, but he can’t draw enough fans to fill a phone booth. No big crowd, no big money. It’s a tough, dangerous fight for a champion, especially for chump change.

It doesn’t help that he’s the WBO welterweight champ of the world. Most people think the WBO is a rap group.

Those who do know Margarito will tell you he’s a fighter to be avoided like you avoid traffic jams, ex-wives and Aunt Mabel’s Christmas Day fruit cake.

He’s a tall, gifted banger with heart. But no recognizable name.

Maybe that’s why a Floyd Mayweather fight probably won’t happen. Someone has to draw a crowd, fill the seats. And it wouldn’t be either one of these guys.

Margarito doesn’t have the name. Mayweather doesn’t have the charisma.

But Margarito still feels like he’s been snubbed.

“I think Floyd has seen enough of me to know how good I am,” Margarito (33-4, 24 KOs) said on a conference call promoting Saturday night‘s WBO championship fight with Joshua Clottey (30-1, 20 KOs) in Atlantic City (SHOWTIME). “I have proven myself more than once in the ring. I think Floyd doesn’t want to fight me and I am through asking him to fight me. I am done with that. I am moving forward. If he decides to fight me, fine. If he does not, that is fine with me too.”

Glad that’s finally over with.

If Mayweather is ducking Margarito, it’s probably for financial reasons. Mayweather is set to fight Oscar De La Hoya on May 5, and that’s still a step up from Margarito.

So instead of visions of Mayweather dancing in his head, Margarito better focus on the undefeated Clottey, who isn’t coming into this thing expecting to finish second.

“Margarito thinks he is going to beat me to fight the big guys,” Clottey said on the same conference call. “But I have a big surprise for him. He is coming to fight, but I am also coming to fight.”

Someone’s name recognition is going to get a boost.

“I love the way [Margarito] fights,” Clottey said. “It‘s the way I fight, so I think it will be very exciting. I know he is going to throw punches like I am going to do, but we all know that only the strong survive.”

If styles make fights, this could be a barnburner.

“I always go into the ring with the mentality that I have to go forward throwing punches,” Margarito said of his style. “And if the strategy has to change because he tries to box, then we will do that. I think in this fight, both of us will be going forward.”

Great. But not necessarily at the same time, right?

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