According to WBO Welterweight champion Antonio Margarito (33-4, 24 KO’s), Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s victory over Carlos Baldomir wasn’t all that significant. “It was exactly as everyone expected. Floyd punched and ran around while Baldomir chased. Very predictable. It’s always the same type of fight with him,” Margarito said of Mayweather Jr.’s performance.
Margarito is the man Mayweather Jr. chose not to face despite the fact that the money for fighting Baldomir was virtually the same. Instead, Mayweather Jr. chose to face a slower and less explosive version of the Tijuana fighter in Baldomir out of Santa Fe, Argentina. Baldomir started the fight well but became increasingly frustrated as “Lil’ Floyd” used superior speed and razor sharp reflexes to befuddle the always stalking champion. It was the equivalent of trying and failing to swat a giant, violent gnat that buzzed in and out of range. Mayweather was landing shots that hardly shook the Argentinean’s body. Most likely, it shook Baldomir’s psyche once he realized that getting to Mayweather would be a difficult proposition. In the end, Mayweather Jr. scored a unanimous decision but still didn’t get much appreciation from the fans in attendance who booed the new champion. And then there’s the boxing media that’s been criticizing Mayweather Jr. for years.
The columns sprung up all over the papers and internet chiding Mayweather’s “lackadaisical” boxing attitude and his lack of interest in “closing the show.” Some proclaimed him a bore and one of the reasons for boxing’s supposed demise. These are the same folks that have been proclaiming the death of the sport for a decade, yet the number of boxing promotions continue to grow at a steady rate.
Is Floyd Jr. getting a bad rap?
“Not at all,” said Margarito’s manager Sergio Diaz. “He’s a fighter that can’t bring people to the venues. He’s supposedly a top pound-for-pound fighter and the arena wasn’t exactly packed. Fans don’t like to see Mayweather Jr. fight. He’s definitely boring.” After the fight, Larry Merchant, the famed HBO boxing analyst, pointed out to Mayweather that the fans we’re indeed booing him. The comment incensed the newly crowned champion and made for some good television.
It seems that Floyd Mayweather Jr. can’t get a break.
After all, he did win titles as a junior featherweight, lightweight, jr. welterweight and now the welterweight title against very credible opposition. He made the highly regarded Diego Corrales look like an amateur in 2001. He won a close fight that could’ve gone either way against the also highly regarded Jose Luis Castillo and then defeated him convincingly in a rematch. There was also Jesus Chavez who he stopped in the ninth round. Zab Judah, another well regarded welterweight, was no match for the Grand Rapids, Michigan native and neither was Baldomir.
So why all the sharp criticism?
There were plenty of times during the Baldomir fight when Mayweather stood in front of “Tata” and exchanged. The end of the sixth round was a prime example of Mayweather Jr. exchanging with Baldomir. I don’t know that we can accuse Mayweather Jr. of “running” on that night. According to Margarito, Baldomir didn’t have the necessary tools. “Baldomir couldn’t capitalize during those moments because of his lack of speed. He should’ve been hitting him everywhere. On the arms, whatever it took to bring his guard down. When he got Mayweather to stop, Baldomir didn’t do enough,” Margarito commented. Baldomir’s punches grazed Mayweather’s head. Mayweather proved too quick and landed several effective shots that marked his opponent’s mug. Speed didn’t kill but it surely stung Baldomir all over the face as his post-fight appearance indicated.
Margarito’s people feel that a fight against Mayweather Jr. is unlikely at this point. “We’ve already accepted the fact that Floyd isn’t going to face Tony. He turned us down once because he said Tony wasn’t a big name and then he fought Baldomir who’s hardly known outside of boxing circles so we know the real reason he refused to fight us,” said Diaz. Diaz had landed Margarito a deal to fight Mayweather Jr. when “Pretty Boy Floyd” had a change of heart and chose to fight Baldomir instead. Some of his statements lent credence to the notion that Mayweather Jr. didn’t want to fight Margarito at any price. His reasons just didn’t jive with some of the boxing public.
Margarito says he’s past the Mayweather Jr. debacle as he prepares for his upcoming fight against the tough African Joshua Clottey on December second. “I’m not looking past Clottey. He’s a rough fighter that fights with a lot of heart. I think 2007 will be my year. Hopefully I can get past Clottey and finally get a big fight.” For now, a Mayweather Jr. bout seems like a distant proposition. Mayweather Jr. is currently positioning himself to fight the king of the pay-per-views, Oscar De La Hoya, in a mega-fight that is likely to bring each fighter between ten to twenty million dollars.
Margarito can only dream of the money De La Hoya and Mayweather are slated to win if they fight each other. “If someone offers to pay me eight or ten million dollars to fight, I’d accept no matter who it was. That’s the type of money that changes your life forever,” Margarito said. For now, Margarito bides his time. “My time will come. Mosley and Mayweather and all the rest won’t be able to avoid me.” And what about his mandatory, the six-foot-plus Welterweight prospect Paul “The Punisher” Williams? “If I have to fight Williams and the money’s right then that’s fine too. It’s becoming clear to me that I’m going to have to clean out the division in order to get some respect and a big money fight. If that’s what it’s going to take then that’s what I’ll have to do.”
To watch Antonio Margarito sparring against “The Contender” Sergio Mora click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_uQLwuTeOQ