Friday, March 24, 2023  |



Margarito-Pacquiao: The horns of a dilemma


Texas has granted Antonio Margarito a boxing license despite strong opposition and much righteous indignation, clearing the way for the disgraced Mexican to fight Manny Pacquiao at Cowboys Stadium on Nov. 13. The result has been a game changer: Instead of getting bent out of shape because Pacquiao isn’t fighting Floyd Mayweather, a lot of folks have a new beef to chew on. Now they’re up in arms because Margarito — who was caught trying to fight Shane Mosley with loaded gloves — has been granted permission to fight in the United States again.

The outrage is understandable and justified. What Margarito attempted is arguably the worst sin a boxer can commit, and had he been caught after the fight, both Margarito and his trainer, Javier Capetillo, would probably be behind bars today.

If I had to guess, I’d say that Margarito knew his hands were loaded and that he had fought before with doctored wraps. But if I were accused of a vile act, I wouldn’t want my fate decided by conjecture. Neither would any of the people calling for Margarito’s head.

A strong argument can be made that the California commission should have banned Margarito forever instead of revoking his license for a year. But it didn’t, and we can’t turn back the hands of time. Legally, there is nothing to stop the Pacquiao-Margarito fight from happening, a fact of life that we have to accept whether we like it or not.

People don’t have to watch the fight. Nobody is going to force anybody to buy a ticket or purchase the pay-per-view. It’s up to boxing consumers to vote with their wallets. At this point, there is no better way of show displeasure with Margarito’s return to the ring — and Pacquiao’s willingness to accommodate him — than to boycott the fight.

Promoter Bob Arum is gambling that Pacquiao’s stature as the most popular fighter in the world and the publicity generated by controversy will sell the fight. And it just might work.

Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey attracted more than 50,000 fans to Cowboys Stadium and sold approximately 700,000 pay-per-views for their March fight, even though, outside of hardcore boxing circles, few had ever heard of Clottey before the fight was announced. Margarito is already notorious because of the loaded-gloves scandal and will be even more so after hundreds of virtually identical columns are written, ripping him, the fight, and boxing in general.

Nobody will be asking, “Who is this Margarito guy?”

The final verdict will not be rendered until after the fight is over and all the loot from the various revenue channels has been counted. At the end of the day, it will be the boxing consumer who decides whether Margarito is somebody he or she will pay to see fight, which is only fitting, as they will be footing the bill.

Those expecting THE RING to take a sanctimonious stance will be disappointed. Many of our writers have expressed their feelings about what has transpired in no uncertain terms and will continue to do so. THE RING, however, will not boycott the fight. Furthermore, the December issue will feature the sort of in-depth preview that readers have come to expect prior to major fights.

It is THE RING’s job to present as many of the facts as possible and offer a variety of opinions. Ultimately, this is a case that should be decided, not in the media, but in the marketplace, usually the best arbitrator when commerce and principles collide.

Nigel Collins, Editor-in-Chief of THE RING magazine, can be contacted at: [email protected]