He’s a tough guy looking for a fight.
WBO champ Antonio Margarito might be the best welterweight in the world, a bona fide, guaranteed, surefire, future legend-in-waiting.
At least that’s the rumor.
All he needs is a break, a chance, an opportunity to fight guys with names everyone around the kitchen table knows. A Mosley, a Mayweather, or – following his recent big win over Arturo Gatti – maybe even a Carlos Baldomir.
“There’s been talk about me not fighting anybody (any of the best), Margarito said on a recent conference call. “Well, give me the opportunity to fight someone well known.”
Right now, the biggest name linked to the “Tijuana Tornado” is promoter Bob Arum, and I’m pretty sure Arum hasn’t seen 147 pounds since his junior high days.
Besides, word is Arum hasn’t cocked his fists and gritted his teeth since Jose Luis Castillo decided to become a junior-welterweight without telling anyone.
But Arum swears Margarito is the real thing, the second coming of Marvin Hagler.
“Look. Antonio Margarito (33-4, 24 KOs) is the most feared man in boxing,” Arum said, perhaps exaggerating a little. “He’s this era’s ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler…I really believe Antonio Margarito is the best welterweight in the world. If other people choose not to fight him, that’s on them. They all have reasons.”
Arum said he wanted to decline from using the term “chicken,” though the message came through.
If Arum is trying to get Margarito a big-name fight, his approach might need some serious work. He’s not going to drum up a lot of business by proclaiming his fighter is a Hagler clone. Who wants to fight that guy?
He ought to be telling the world Margarito is just hanging in there on pure guts and heart, that he can’t dent a Coke can. Make him sound a little less like Marvin Hagler and a little more like Pee Wee Herman.
But that isn’t how Arum works. When he’s got something special, he won’t keep it a secret.
“We’re very proud of Antonio Margarito,” said Arum, who is trying to get his fighter a date on Showtime before the end of the year. “A fighter like him will bring fans back to the sport. They want to see guys who fight not only with their fists, but their hearts.”
Asked why no one will fight him, Margarito said most fighters see him as a very tough opponent.
“They see what I can do, even if they say they don’t,” he said. “They’ve seen my knockouts. But more than anything, they know how tough an opponent I will be for any of them.”
The short list of “any of them” includes Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather Jr. But following his most recent win over Fernando Vargas, Mosley says he isn’t fighting anymore this year. And Mayweather is still linked to a possible mega fight against Oscar De La Hoya. He’d be crazy to jeopardize the possibility of that fight by taking on Margarito and losing.
“I’d rather put Antonio in with Mosley then Mayweather because it’s a bigger fight,” Arum said. “Mosley, I think, is better known than Floyd. But my guy will fight anybody.”
Other names tossed into the mix include Luis Collazo, Carlos Quintana, Vivian Harris, and WBO junior-welterweight champ Miguel Cotto, who is talking about moving up to 147 pounds.
“Anybody with the guts to fight Antonio is all right with me,” Arum said.
A busy guy looking for a fight.