Is it possible the Cotto fight could have taken something out of Antonio Margarito? Why did he look slower and more off than usual against Mosley? How did he spend his year away from the sport he loves? Have his legion of supporters stayed loyal to the Tijuana Tornado? Long time Margarito manager Sergio Diaz addresses these questions and more in this exclusive interview. Margarito, who turns 32 next March, hopes to make his return to the ring next year…
BoxingInsider: First of all, how did Antonio spend his year off from boxing and did he maintain his weight around 147? Did he stay in the gym, what activities did he do, vacation, holiday, play other sports?Any new family members?
Sergio Diaz: It has been frustrating, disappointing, and extremely depressing for Antonio but he continues to train on and off in Mexico to maintain his weight. We just saw him about two weeks ago and he is currently walking at 160 pounds. As far as activities, other than than boxing, he really isn’t into any other sport. He has a brother-in-law who is also a professional fighter whom he guides. It’s funny to see how nervous Antonio gets when his brother-in-law is up in the ring, just about to fight when he himself is a fighter. Antonio has been on a couple of trips during this time that he has been off. He and his wife have family and friends throughout Mexico that they like to visit. No children.
BoxingInsider: As we saw at the Mosley and Williams fights in LA, Antonio was clearly a beloved champion. He was much respected for his fearless style and how he gracefully and patiently had to wait so long for the big money fights, especially after Mayweather ducked him in 2006. He is respected for accepting the fight with Paul Williams and competing so well. And for how friendly he was to his fans and supporters. Since the incident in January vs. Mosley, has this positive relations with boxing fans changed? How have fans treated Antonio?
Sergio Diaz: Yes and no. He has gotten really nasty fan mail, but at the same time he has a lot of fan support. I continue to get fan mail asking me when Antonio will return. I continue to get large requests for autograph items, and I continue to receive sponsorship conciderations for his next showing. As far as I’ve seen, the fans continue to swarm him. Antonio tells me that there are times that he is suprised by the amount of people that swarm him – even in the smallest parts of Mexico. I continue to wear my Margarito gear with pride and I am constantly asked when he will be fighting again.
BoxingInsider: Does Antonio want to continue professional boxing? If so, what do you think his motivation is? What are his future goals in the sport? Can he still make 147?
Sergio Diaz: Yes, Antonio definitely wants to continue. He says that now he has more to prove than ever. He wants to prove that he was wrongly judged and prosecuted. He’ll get in the ring and rematch whomever he has to fight, if that is what it would take to prove his worthiness. Antonio’s future goal is to be a world champion again. I asked him if he would be able to make 147 or if he was considering moving up? He responded by telling me that he could still fight at 147. This will depend on what Top Rank puts together.
BoxingInsider: Antonio just did not look like the same fighter vs. Mosley as he did vs. Cotto. He seemed slower and less sharp. Could the brutal nature of the Cotto fight possibly have taken something out of Antonio, in your opinion?
Sergio Diaz: That might be possibly so. As you mention, that was a brutal fight. I kept hearing, will Cotto be the same? Will Cotto be the same? But everyone forgot that Antonio was the other person in that fight who also received punches. The majority focused on how Cotto looked and withstood punishment, but how about Antonio? Did they not see his face. The majority of the highlights being shown was of Antonio receiving devasting puches. The Cotto-Margarito fight was a very, very physically draining fight for both of them.
We also had other unfortunate factors that lead to Antonio’s defeat. One being the weight. This was the first time that Antonio got stuck. The weight was just not coming off. He had to work extra. He was no longer running 45 minutes to an hour. His running time was increased by another 30 to 45 minutes. His gym workouts got longer and more intense. Unfortunately, this lead to a back injury three weeks prior to the fight. Although Antonio was taking medication, the pain would not subside. We brought in a specialist who was able to decrease Antonio’s pain to a tolerable level that would allow him to continue training. Two weeks prior to the fight, we took Antonio in for his medical. Everything was great until we went to see the opthamologist. The doctor discovered a hole in Antonio’s retina. I remember seeing Antonio’s face full of concern when he was told that he had a hole in his retina and that surgery was necessary to keep it from tearing. At this point we were ready to call the fight off. Antonio convinced us to wait after the surgery – which was scheduled to take place ten days before the fight – before any decision was made. We got together the day after the surgery to discuss what action would be taken. Antonio told us that we were all too far into this and the last thing he wanted to do was disappoint the fans. The decision was made that he would fight.
BoxingInsider: There were reports that Antonio might fight Baldomir in his comeback fight in Mexico. Is that still an option?
Sergio Diaz: I don’t know anything about this. Is Baldomir still fighting? There are no current plans. I know there have been articles stating that Antonio fighting in Mexico, but none of them are true. Antonio is still under suspension. Once his suspension is over and he is reinstated, we’ll begin making plans for him.
BoxingInsider: Who will be the trainer of Antonio, will it still be Capetillo?
Sergio Diaz: We have a list of potential trainers.
BoxingInsider: After what happened in 2009, how would you as the manager of Antonio like to see the story play out? How can he gain redemption?
Sergio Diaz: Look, I’m not going to say that Antonio needs to fight certain fighters again to redeem himself. Rematches against Cotto, Cintron, and Clottey are not matches that will be made for redemption. Those are fights that would made because of the public’s interest. I don’t know what lies ahead for Antonio. Once he is reinstated, Top Rank and myself will begin to layout the plan.