You can’t blame WBO welterweight champion Antonio Margarito (33-4, 24 KO’s) for wanting to make as much money as possible in a sport where the windows of big buck opportunities close as fast as they open.
At one time or another he’s called out Mayweather Jr., De La Hoya, Vargas and Mosley. But none has taken the challenge. The risk outweighs the reward and boxing is a business. “In a certain aspect, I can’t blame them. They’re businessmen like I am,” said Margarito from his home in Mexico’s border town of Tijuana. This has led to perpetual frustration for the intense brawler whose nonstop wrecking ball style has garnered him impressive stoppages over Kermit Cintron and, just recently, a one round destruction of Manuel “Shotgun” Gomez.
Now it looks like there’s a glimmer of hope for Margarito as Floyd Mayweather Jr. mulls over his decision for an upcoming opponent. The talks with Oscar De La Hoya have apparently come to a halt after the “Golden Boy” is rumored to be taking the rest of the year off due to a rotator cuff injury.
Top Rank’s Lee Samuels confirmed that an eight million dollar offer was made to Mayweather Jr. to make the trip to Margaritoville on October Seventh. “At this point I’m hoping that Mayweather Jr. will sign. This is about making history for me. To beat Mayweather Jr. would be an incredible accomplishment. It would put me in the history books. That’s what’s most important to me,” said Margarito.
You would think that the one fight that makes sense for Margarito would be the easiest to make. Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto has been struggling to make the 140 pound limit and he’s hinted that he would move up soon. Margarito is thrilled at the idea. “I have a belt for Cotto. It’s a fight that makes sense on many levels. A Mexican champion against a Puerto Rican champion. It’s an easy sell. It’s a fight I really like. Cotto has a style that would compliment mine since he comes forward all the time. We walk into the ring to destroy our opponent. The fight is something boxing fans would really appreciate.”
Both men are part of the Top Rank stable so there are no “rival” promoters to deal with. So what’s the problem?
Manager Sergio Diaz brought up the idea to Arum and company but it seems that Cotto’s future plans don’t include Margarito. “Top Rank wants to take Cotto on a different road. That leaves us stuck in the middle without an opponent. It’s frustrating. But there’s a little bit of hope that the Mayweather fight will materialize. He’s the type of opponent that Tony needs at this point of his career,” said Diaz.
For now, Margarito has to bide his time and hope that Lil’ Floyd seals the deal. If not, he’ll probably fight a mandatory while all the others decide via fisticuffs their and Margarito’s future. There’s been talk of a match against Sharmba Mitchell. “I’ve heard of Mitchell and also Cosme Rivera who just beat Felix Flores in an eliminator. I guess I’ll have to keep busy if Mayweather doesn’t come around,” he said.
Diaz meanwhile sees a fight against Mitchell as completely pointless. “Sharmba doesn’t bring anything to the table and it’s hard for Tony to get excited or motivated about fighting Mitchell and people like “Shotgun” Gomez,” he said.
On May 27th, Paul “The Punisher” Williams called out Margarito after beating on Walter Mathysse and stopping him on an HBO “Boxing After Dark” show. “I didn’t see the fight but Sergio filled me in on what Williams was saying. I don’t fear anybody but fighting Williams is like going backwards for me. I’m a world champion who’s defended his title six times. I deserve a bigger fight than that,” stated Margarito.
Diaz and Margarito also discussed a fight against Jose Luis Castillo until the debacle on the weight scales against Diego Corrales. “That’s a fight that could’ve been made but Castillo now has to face the Nevada commission and who knows what will happen there. I don’t think that fight is realistic at this point,” said Diaz.
When Margarito is asked to pick his preferred opponent, he voices the choice of every fighter from Junior Flyweight on up. “Oscar De La Hoya,” he says. Everyone knows that a fight against De La Hoya will fetch a multimillion dollar purse. “It’s not about the money,” he insists. “It’s about history. I’ve sparred with De La Hoya before and I was able to get my hands on him pretty good so I think I can beat him.”
At this point, De La Hoya is likely out of the question and the focus remains on Mayweather Jr. “I would like to ask Floyd to sign the contract and let’s fight. I know he’s a businessman but he’s also a fighter. If he turns down eight million dollars then I have to wonder if he really is a good businessman and one has to wonder just what kind of fighter he is. Step up Floyd,” says Margarito. “Eight million is a lot of money. I’d fight the devil for that kind of money.”