GRAPEVINE, Texas – "Disgusting" is often a word that comes to mind when thinking of controversial boxer Antonio Margarito. And Margarito, along with trainer Robert Garcia and training partner Brandon Rios, a lightweight contender, didn't fail to disgust the other day.
A video surfaced on the Internet – first at Fanhouse.com, then later on other sites after Fanhouse apparently pulled it – of Margarito, Garcia and Rios making fun of Freddie Roach's Parkinson's disease symptoms.
Roach, of course, is the trainer of pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao, who meets Margarito for the World Boxing Council super welterweight title on Saturday in front of an expected crowd of approximately 70,000 at Cowboys Stadium and an HBO Pay-Per-View audience that could soar past a million homes.
They mocked Roach's tremors, laughing like classless juveniles at the plight of a man who is fighting a debilitating, life-altering disease. Margarito held his arms in front of him and shook them, mocking Roach. And then Garcia pointed to Rios, whose head was tilted forward to the left and was shaking and said, "Hey, there's Freddie Roach."
It was a lowlife move – one that was particularly surprising coming from Garcia, who has had an exemplary career and has always been highly regarded as a fighter, a trainer and a human being.
It's not so stunning, though, coming from Margarito, who is guaranteed $3 million on Saturday. There are escalators in his contract which are easily reachable and almost certainly will boost that payday to $6 million. And, promoter Bob Arum said, Margarito could do far better than that if the fight turns out to be a pay-per-view hit.
Given that kind of a haul, Margarito should kiss the ground Arum walks on. When Margarito was caught with an illegal knuckle pad in his hand wraps before a Jan. 24, 2009 fight with Shane Mosley in Los Angeles, Arum immediately leaped to his defense. Arum has taken more than his share of criticism for that, with many insinuating he did it because he knew how much money could be made with a Pacquiao fight.
But in January 2009, after a one-sided knockout loss to Mosley, there was no Pacquiao fight. It was laughable to think Margarito would ever be in this situation.
Yet Arum spent $500,000 of his own money to vigorously defend Margarito, hiring one of the country's finest lawyers for him and – despite what seemed to be an open-and-shut case – repeatedly and loudly defending him from the earliest moments. Some may question Arum's judgment in so adamantly defending a man who very well may have loaded his gloves in previous fights, but Arum didn't do it because he expected to reap a financial bonanza later. Whatever semblance of a career Margarito has left, he owes to Arum.
Less than two years after that night, when he nearly walked into the ring with loaded gloves in what is modern boxing's most heinous crime, Margarito stands to earn the largest payday of his career – and potentially win another world championship. Though he'll forever be in Arum's debt, he repaid his promoter by showing his true colors, mocking Roach's tremors and making light of the hand-wrap incident.
This is a guy to whom much has been given and from whom much should be expected, particularly in the way of gratitude. Margarito should have gone out of his way to do anything and everything Arum asked, and not put his promoter in a situation of having to defend him again just days before the big fight.
Margarito is fortunate he's even fighting at all; that he's fighting for a world championship at this point is beyond a joke.
Forget, for a second, the hand-wraps issue and whether Margarito knew – as most suspect he did – that trainer Javier Capetillo had slipped the illegal pad into his wraps. Even if you assume the best for Margarito (that he had never worn the hardened pad before and that he had no idea what Capetillo did that night), he still doesn't deserve to be anywhere near a super welterweight championship fight.
He was completely outclassed by Mosley and stopped in the ninth round. Margarito's camp has tried to rationalize the loss by pointing out that not only was Margarito's focus ruined by the controversy over the wraps, but that he had to lose 35 pounds in the month before the fight.
Margarito may have had trouble with the weight, but exactly whose fault would that be? He went into a celebratory mode after unexpectedly defeating Miguel Cotto in 2008 and apparently physically drained himself trying to make the 147-pound weight limit for the Mosley fight.
The California State Athletic Commission revoked his license to box a few weeks after the loss to Mosley, keeping Margarito out of the ring for more than a year. Earlier this year, while he was still under suspension in the United States, Margarito went to Mexico to face journeyman Roberto Garcia.
Margarito looked lethargic and listless in a bout against a guy who was a C-level contender, at best, but pulled out a unanimous decision. That, apparently, was enough to earn him a world championship bout against the best fighter in the world.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Reason 1,089,374 in the ongoing saga of things which are messed up about boxing and won't ever be fixed.
The bout is being promoted as Pacquiao's bid for a championship in a record eighth division, but that is a somewhat hollow claim. Though the super welterweight division has a limit of 154 pounds, Pacquiao and Margarito have agreed contractually to no more than 150. If ever there is a heavyweight title vacancy, perhaps Arum might be able to convince one of the sanctioning bodies to permit Pacquiao and, oh, Cotto, to fight for it. Of course, the weight would be capped at 150, but hey, Arum could trumpet the winner as history's smallest heavyweight champion.
Pacquiao has won sanctioned world titles at 112, 122, 130, 135 and 147. He's also been the linear champion at 126 and 140. So, depending on whom you want to listen to, Pacquiao is aiming for either his sixth or eighth world title on Saturday.
But Pacquiao is one of the most accomplished boxers in history, having regularly beaten quality opposition. He deserves the opportunity to fight for a title at a higher weight even though he's never competed at super welterweight and, indeed, has never weighed as much as 146 pounds before.
Margarito, though, was manhandled the last time he faced an elite fighter. He didn't look particularly tough or fearsome against Mosley, which then makes one wonder about the fights in which he did seem to be a beast.
He followed the Mosley fight with an unimpressive win over an unimpressive opponent. That shouldn't be enough to make him the top contender for the super welterweight belt. But Margarito is Mexican and the WBC is a Mexican organization headed by its president for life, Jose Sulaiman. Sulaiman, of course, is Mexican. Mexico regularly produces some of the world's top fighters, but there are hundreds upon hundreds of examples over the years of the WBC blessing Mexican-born fighters favorably in its ratings.
It's disgusting, but that's par for the course these days with Margarito.
You can't expect a dog to have table manners and, apparently, you can't expect Margarito to act with class.