Antonio Margarito's plight can be summed up by an episode that took place on May 6, 2006.

Oscar De La Hoya had just closed Ricardo Mayorga's big mouth, and Floyd Mayweather was holding court at the postfight press conference. “Pretty Boy” was surrounded by a half-dozen media types and fans seeking autographs, when Margarito approached Floyd asking, “Why won't you fight me?”

Mayweather, not quite hearing what Margarito was saying, just nodded at him politely and smiled.

He didn't even know who he was. Worse, he thought he was a fan seeking an autograph.

Eventually, Mayweather pretended to recognize Margarito and gave him one of those “we're men” half-hugs before altogether ignoring him. At the time, there was only one fighter who mattered to Mayweather, and that was De La Hoya.

Seven months later, not much has changed. Mayweather is still infatuated with De La Hoya — they'll finally fight next May 5. And Margarito is still frustrated and virtually unknown — locked out of every meaningful fight for no other reason than rotten luck.

Marvin Hagler Syndrome and Antonio Margarito

By Matthew Aguilar

Antonio Margarito's plight can be summed up by an episode that took place on May 6, 2006.

Oscar De La Hoya had just closed Ricardo Mayorga's big mouth, and Floyd Mayweather was holding court at the postfight press conference. “Pretty Boy” was surrounded by a half-dozen media types and fans seeking autographs, when Margarito approached Floyd asking, “Why won't you fight me?”

Mayweather, not quite hearing what Margarito was saying, just nodded at him politely and smiled.

He didn't even know who he was. Worse, he thought he was a fan seeking an autograph.

Eventually, Mayweather pretended to recognize Margarito and gave him one of those “we're men” half-hugs before altogether ignoring him. At the time, there was only one fighter who mattered to Mayweather, and that was De La Hoya.

Seven months later, not much has changed. Mayweather is still infatuated with De La Hoya — they'll finally fight next May 5. And Margarito is still frustrated and virtually unknown — locked out of every meaningful fight for no other reason than rotten luck.

Call it the Marvin Hagler syndrome. He's too damn good for the big names to mess with him. And he's not known enough for the big names to mess with him. He's not worth the risk, and the reward ain't enough for the damage his fists are capable of dishing out.

You remember the last time a “name” fighter gave an “unknown” fighter a shot, don't you? Winky Wright boxed Shane Mosley's ears off. Think Mosley is about to make that move again, against a puncher like Margarito?

And Antonio can forget De La Hoya and Mayweather for the next year. Fernando Vargas is done. Wright is a middleweight. Ricky Hatton has moved back down to junior welterweight.

So his only hope for a superfight sometime in Margarito's lifetime may be Miguel Cotto — that's if Cotto doesn't lose to unbeaten Carlos Quintana in his welterweight debut tonight in Atlantic City. Of course, Margarito has some business to tend to as well — he meets tough Joshua Clottey in a “stay busy” fight, with his meaningless WBO welterweight title on the line.

Margarito-Cotto would be a classic, one of those throwback Mexican-Puerto Rican wars that harkens memories of Pipino Cuevas-Angel Espada, Julio Cesar Chavez-Edwin Rosario, and Salvador Sanchez-Wilfredo Gomez.

Would Margarito be too big for Cotto? Would Cotto punch too hard for Margarito? The intriguing questions are limitless. Combine that with fierce national pride, and you may have the best boxing atmosphere of the decade.

If you're a boxing fan — a true, hardcore, honest-too-goodness boxing fan — you may be looking forward to Margarito-Cotto more than Mayweather-De La Hoya.

Pay-per-view. Big money. Lots of attention. Everything Margarito has dreamed of since bursting onto the scene a few years back with knockouts of Antonio Diaz and Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis.

The winner would then conceivably get Mayweather, provided Mayweather gets by the “Golden Boy.”

But everything has to go right tonight. Margarito's opponent is considerably less-difficult than Cotto's. Quintana has the boxing ability and overall skills to not just defeat Cotto, but dominate him.

Not that Clottey is an easy mark. Both men will be tested in this very dangerous precursor.

But, if both come out of Saturday victorious, the drums will start beating for Margarito-Cotto. And, finally, Margarito — the kid hoping to become the second-most famous boxer from Tijuana – will get his moment.

Then people will know he's not just a fan seeking an autograph.

You remember the last time a “name” fighter gave an “unknown” fighter a shot, don't you? Winky Wright boxed Shane Mosley's ears off. Think Mosley is about to make that move again, against a puncher like Margarito?

And Antonio can forget De La Hoya and Mayweather for the next year. Fernando Vargas is done. Wright is a middleweight. Ricky Hatton has moved back down to junior welterweight.

So his only hope for a superfight sometime in Margarito's lifetime may be Miguel Cotto — that's if Cotto doesn't lose to unbeaten Carlos Quintana in his welterweight debut tonight in Atlantic City. Of course, Margarito has some business to tend to as well — he meets tough Joshua Clottey in a “stay busy” fight, with his meaningless WBO welterweight title on the line.

Margarito-Cotto would be a classic, one of those throwback Mexican-Puerto Rican wars that harkens memories of Pipino Cuevas-Angel Espada, Julio Cesar Chavez-Edwin Rosario, and Salvador Sanchez-Wilfredo Gomez.

Would Margarito be too big for Cotto? Would Cotto punch too hard for Margarito? The intriguing questions are limitless. Combine that with fierce national pride, and you may have the best boxing atmosphere of the decade.

If you're a boxing fan — a true, hardcore, honest-too-goodness boxing fan — you may be looking forward to Margarito-Cotto more than Mayweather-De La Hoya.

Pay-per-view. Big money. Lots of attention. Everything Margarito has dreamed of since bursting onto the scene a few years back with knockouts of Antonio Diaz and Andrew “Six Heads” Lewis.

The winner would then conceivably get Mayweather, provided Mayweather gets by the “Golden Boy.”

But everything has to go right tonight. Margarito's opponent is considerably less-difficult than Cotto's. Quintana has the boxing ability and overall skills to not just defeat Cotto, but dominate him.

Not that Clottey is an easy mark. Both men will be tested in this very dangerous precursor.

But, if both come out of Saturday victorious, the drums will start beating for Margarito-Cotto. And, finally, Margarito — the kid hoping to become the second-most famous boxer from Tijuana — will get his moment.

Then people will know he's not just a fan seeking an autograph.