Antonio Margarito Is Bad For Business, Bad For Boxing

Boxing Antonio Margarito

Photo: Wikimedia via Hoggarazzi Photography

As a longtime fan and sponsor of boxing and a close, personal friend to Miguel Cotto, it is my opinion that Antonio Margarito is the worst thing for boxing.

My love of boxing makes me hate anything that threatens its integrity. Margarito was caught wrapping his gloves with plaster of Paris the night that he lost the WBA Welterweight title to “Sugar” Shane Mosley.* His conduct inevitably leads to a questioning of the legitimacy of his victory over Miguel Cotto in his previous bout.[Ed. note: Maragrito and his trainer were suspended from boxing for one year after the incident at the Mosely fight.]

It is unlikely that fans will ever know the exact point in time when Margarito became a cheater, but the undeniable fact remains that Margarito has sacrificed his honour as a boxer.

The upcoming fight between Margarito and Manny Pacquiao (for the vacant WBC Super Welterweight title) creates a no-win scenario for boxing. If Margarito loses, then fans have additional evidence that his career was built on dishonesty and cheating. And if he wins, we will call a cheater a champion. Should boxing fans admire someone who used cement to attain a level of pain and destruction that can’t compare with human flesh and muscles?

Athletes are supposed to be honorable, and represent themselves and their people with pride. Mexico has a long and storied history in boxing. Julio Cesar Chavez is a six-time world champion in three weight divisions. For several years he was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and is arguably the greatest fighter to represent his country and heritage.

Ricardo Lopez is the rare breed to have retired undefeated (51-0-1) after defending the WBC Strawweight championship a record 21 times and tying Joe Louis’ record for consecutive title bouts without a loss (26).

“The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya is of Mexican descent and a gold medalist at the Barcelona Olympic Games who in his pro career defeated 17 world champions and won 10 world titles in six different weight classes.

Rich with great champions and tradition, Mexican boxers have proudly and honorably represented themselves in the sport for many years and will continue to do so. Margarito should not be allowed to tarnish a tradition that Mexican boxers have spent decades establishing.

Antonio Margarito has been anything but honorable, and as a sponsor I refuse to represent anyone who has exhibited that kind of behaviour.  Any company that sponsors Margarito needs to seriously reconsider what they represent as a brand. To sponsor Margarito is not to sponsor boxing. It is a decision to pay an athlete who has risked doing irreparable physical harm to fellow fighters.

Two men enter a ring to challenge each other’s strength and athleticism. There is honour in that. When I look for boxers and mixed martial artists to sign sponsorship deals with Ecko, I seek out fighters who display the pride and honour of a warrior. I look for fighters that will strive toward victory with an honest, powerful message, a message that I don’t believe carries over to a guy like Antonio Margarito.

Eric Samson is a marketing consultant in action sports, who specialises in building brands through social media and strategic partnerships. He has been responsible for Ecko Unltd’s Sports Marketing initiatives since 2006 and was a sponsor of Miguel Cotto’s on the night he fought Antonio Margarito.

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