Antonio Margarito Tries To Talk Himself Out Of The Mess He Created


Antonio Margarito’s media strategy, visually depicted.

Knowing that he has done some rather severe damage to his reputation, welterweight (147 lbs.) kingpin Antonio Margarito and his team have, in the past couple days, spoken out about why Margarito bailed out of an-all-but-signed January Shane Mosley fight.

I’m usually supportive of a “we, Tylenol, are sorry for the screw up and we’re going to address it head on” approach to media relations when one’s made a mistake. Margarito’s team isn’t doing itself any favors with its similar head-on but considerably less apologetic “burrow down and throw out a bunch of excuses until one sticks” approach.

Let’s run through the excuses. First up is Todd DuBoef, president of Top Rank, talking about Margarito recently attending Mosley’s fight against Ricardo Mayorga and explaining why a 50-50 split wouldn’t make any sense:

“He was at the Mayorga fight and I told [Golden Boy’s] Richard Schaefer this, he saw that the biggest applause was when he walked in the arena – and there were very few people in the arena – and he probably thinks that the value for his services are much greater than Shane Mosley’s.”

OK. Fine. Margarito is the bigger draw. But I’m pretty sure it was DuBoef’s company who negotiated the deal for Margarito, and Margarito who reportedly agreed to it before changing his mind. If getting better than a 50-50 split was so important to him, he should’ve spoken up far, far sooner. I suppose he’s entitled to a change of heart, but the way he did it wasn’t cool.

Next up is Antonio Margarito himself:

“I don’t need Mosley to continue with my career. [Oscar] De La Hoya did not keep his word. He turned his back on me and wasn’t serious about what he said. I am doing the same exact thing so they shouldn’t complain,” Margarito told Deporte1.

Actually, what Margs did was on a whole different scale than what De La Hoya did to him. Unlike Margarito, De La Hoya never agreed to a deal that he then pulled out of — De La Hoya just verbally expressed interest in the winner of Margarito’s fight with Miguel Cotto. After Margarito won, De La Hoya changed his mind, and he deservedly caught hell for it. In fact, Margarito led the charge. Everywhere he could, Margarito called De La Hoya a chicken. So maybe De La Hoya shouldn’t complain, but if Margarito really thought Margarito De La Hoya chickened out, hasn’t he just done the exact same thing?

There’s more Margarito elsewhere:

“I understand the economy.  Golden Boy and Team Mosley should understand that I’m the one who is pulling in the people. Mosley has never pulled in people. We saw him in the Home Depot Center and that place was empty. Two years ago when I was a world champion, I wasn’t getting my respect and my due,” Margarito said.

“I beat the guy that the majority of the people didn’t think I was going to beat. I beat Cotto and took the purse that was offered to show HBO, the promoters and the people, what I was made of and to show that I can do it. I knocked out Cotto and it’s still the same for me.”

I don’t think Margarito does understand the economy. But it’s his money. If he would rather nurture his pride, he also is entitled. But if fans think he’s behaving like a stuck-up fighter in contradiction of his previous blue-collar ethic, who can blame them?

Manager Sergio Diaz:

“Tony took small purse after small purse to get himself to where he’s at. Does he need to take this fight for $2 million and take the risk of losing and jeopardize the bigger money which is against Cotto. The risk is not worth the reward. If we win they will say Mosley is old, and if we lose – people will say ‘why did we make that decision.’ For them, they are back in play with a win,” Diaz said. “Look what happened to Kelly Pavlik and Bernard Hopkins. Who thought that was going to happen? I know I didn’t.”

Ah, this is interesting. I actually think this might be the real reason Margs pulled out. What surprises me is that they would say it out loud: Margarito’s team is not taking a fight because he might lose it. As I said before, nobody would have blamed Margarito for not making the Mosley fight, because while I think Margarito would have won it, I also do think it was a risker-than-usual “set-up” style fight for the Cotto rematch. But this excuse is less commendable than it would be if there had never even been any negotiations.

And lastly, more Diaz, on a related point about a $4 million offer proposed by Paul Williams’ promoter for a rematch with Margarito, $2 million more than the career-high payday Mosley would have given him:

“We spoke to our promoter about the Williams fight and no formal offer was ever made. I can go on the Internet and say we offered any amount of money for whatever fighter. Bob told us there was no formal offer made – it was just an Internet offer,” Diaz said.

So let’s get this straight. The only place De La Hoya ever discussed fighting Margarito was via the media, which is the same way the Williams offer was proposed. For talking about fighting Margarito then pulling out, De La Hoya — according to Margarito — is a chicken and hypocrite who got what he deserved. But when Margarito turns down an offer that Williams talked about, the offer wasn’t “real.” Huh.

It’s not that I think Margarito and crew shouldn’t stay in the trenches. I just think they should probably just hide out there for a while until this blows over, instead of tossing every crazy excuse out of their bunker they can.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.