The American people hunger for the bad guy to get their comeuppance in these trying economic times, especially. When you see polls that say that around 70% of Americans polled say this country is not on the right track, much of it has to do with the perception that the system isn't fair, that there isn't really liberty and justice for all, but that those ideals are available to a select few. The few, many folks feel, are the ones with the most moolah. Money talks and everything else is walks. “The table is tilted, the game is rigged,” George Carlin used to say.
So I think the Miguel Cotto vs Antonio Margarito tangle which took place at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night resonated that much more to fight fans, whether they consciously saw it through the prism of the times, or not. Anyone who follows the news at all has seen themselves touched by unemployment and outsourcing and seen rampant greed rewarded, and massive fraud by Wall Street banksters and officials elected to govern in the best interest of the masses go unpunished. And so they looked on with a measure of pleasure and satisfaction when the bad guy, the crooked, jerky jockey of pugilism, Antonio Margarito, got his comeuppance.
He got it in the form of a dialed in, sharp, focused Miguel Cotto, fighting his best fight in way too long. He got it all night long, and the satisfaction among watchers grew after a couple rounds, when we saw that the same punches which rattled and sliced up the Puerto Rican in August 2008 bothered him not at all three years later. We speculated as we watched. Or should I say, some of us speculated. Others pondered not at all; they didn't entertain the notion that maybe Margarito had just faded, that he reached his mileage wall, that three eye surgeries in six months and a Manny Pacquiao beating had left him as shell of his former self. No, many if not most saw what they saw at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night and interpreted it as a jury hears DNA evidence. They decided then and there, if they hadn't already, back when Tony offered the (slightly, or wildly, take your pick) implausible denial when hardened gauze pads were taken out of his gloves before he was to meet Shane Mosley in January 2009, that the man was guilty. They didn't need him to confess, or see a videotape of him in action, red-handed. There was no reasonable doubt to them. Tony Margarito was a cheater who got what he had coming to him, and they applauded the co-judge, the jury, the executioner in Miguel Cotto for his expeditious handling of the trial.
Anyone wanting the whole nine from this affair, anyone hoping that Margarito would have a conscience beaten into him, would be disappointed. He didn't take to the podium at the postfight presser, and admit that he'd used foreign objects before the Mosley fight, and in fact, used illegal aids against Cotto in 2008. He didn't even do this in subtle fashion, hinting at an admission, by lauding Cotto for his effort, for telling the world that the Puerto Rican was the better man on this night. No, he stuck to his story that his ex trainer made a mistake by inserting pads to be used in gym workouts instead of fresh, clean ones, free of elements that make up plaster. He stuck to his guns, as it were, that Cotto hit like a girl. He was, to those that really find Margarito a vile character who earned a lifetime ban from the sport, a death row inmate who was convicted, and sent to the execution chamber, and flipped those monitoring the execution the bird.
Margarito, I'm pretty sure, will never give Cotto and anyone else seeking it the satisfaction of admitting he used foreign objects to aid his punching power. (Let me take this time, all these paragraphs in, to offer the competing storyline that the Mosley-wrap situation was in fact an aberration, that Javier Capetillo is the bad actor here, the only one. That might be the case. That strikes most as implausible if not ludicrous. So, if this scenario is so, Margarito has gotten a raw deal from anyone judging him harshly, in assuming he has a track record of misbehavior. And in that case, he should probably be more than a bit irked at Mr. Capetillo, because then it was his negligence which resulted in the harm to Margarito's reputation…but the boxer hasn't taken aim at the former trainer for his carelessness, strangely. Sigh…more circumstantial evidence tars Margarito.) Tony would prefer Miguel hold on to a degree of uncertainty in his mind, allow every now and again for the possibility that he was beaten fair and square, and made to submit and quit, by a better man, not a bad man with loaded gloves on.
Anyone holding out hope that the grinning Grinch will get a heart and conscience transplant, and admit his complicity in the caper pinned on Capetillo will not be rewarded, I don't think. As I said to Steve Farhood post-fight in this Boxing Channel video, the Wrap Flap will be this generation's JFK assassination. We will talk about the evidence and wonder who was in on it, for decades to come.
People who think Margarito wasn't punished sufficiently should be cheered up by the fact that the boxer has reached close to the end of his line. At 154 pounds, he is slow of foot and not fast enough of hand to give anyone above B-status much trouble, I'd say. His chin is his greatest asset, and that asset may well turn into a net loser in decades to come, because his chin will enable Margarito to eke out a few more fights as a gatekeeper, a resume padder. The bad guy went down on Saturday night, and some of you will likely be cheered that his career will most likely continue on a downward trajectory. You might be of the belief that karma is kicking in.