Boxing
Pacquiao-Margarito: A Good Fight, But A Bad Idea
Lyle Fitzsimmons

By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Ocala, FL (Sports Network) - Come to think of it, the wife really does know best.

Though I'd gone on record a few weeks back saying I was far more irritated that Antonio Margarito was getting a catch-weight title fight than with the idea he was fighting at all, sometimes with age comes wisdom.

Or in this case...living with a smart spouse named Danielle comes wisdom.

Driving back from a fruitless trip to a Gulf beach, a 45-minute chat with my lady of nearly five years -- a sports fan with multiple fantasy football championships and one press-row fight credential to her credit, by the way -- showed that when it comes to the Tijuana Tornado's worthiness to return to the sport, one of us had it right all along.

And it sure as heck wasn't me.

While his Nov. 13 match with Manny Pacquiao at Cowboys Stadium looks destined to end in a fashion similar to his January 2009 meeting with Shane Mosley -- it now says here that the Mexican-born ex-welterweight king doesn't even deserve the chance to get his face kicked in courtesy of the soon-to-be Filipino flyweight turned junior middleweight.

Until getting the female perspective on Monday afternoon, I'd been what amounts to a silent apologist for the man un-affectionately known as "Margacheato," somehow allowing for a chance he might not have known what happened in the Staples Center locker room prior to the detective work of the ever-vigilant Naazim Richardson.

Now that I look back, it seems more ridiculous by the minute.

As many veteran fighters, trainers, analysts and others insisted since day one of the controversy, there's really no way a combatant of Margarito's skill and experience -- he'd been a pro for 15 years and 10 days when he met Mosley -- would not have noticed even the slightest thing was amiss with the hand wrap done that night by Javier Capetillo.

But because he'd done a good job selling the "who me?" line since being suspended and because the offense was detected before the fight and not after Mosley had been violated physically, I'd been more inclined to give Margarito the benefit of the doubt when it came to his deserved level of punishment for what nearly went on in Los Angeles.

It all changed somewhere around the Marion County line.

"It's crazy that they're letting him fight," I was told by my incredulous passenger during the rare stretch of dialogue allowed by our drowsy 2-year- old, Ryan. "Just because he didn't actually lay his hands on the guy doesn't mean there was no intent. And it wouldn't do a lot of good to only get it right after the fact. It should be treated as if he'd gotten to the ring and hit him.

"If they'd have found it after the fight, he'd rightfully be dragged through the streets."

My only question after our chat...how did I not recognize it sooner?

The more I ponder what could have happened had it not been for Richardson -- and ultimately Mosley -- the more I'm reminded of the eerie aftermath of the Luis Resto-Billy Collins tragedy at Madison Square Garden 16 years earlier.

Like Margarito, Resto vehemently claimed to know nothing of what happened in the locker room that night on the Roberto Duran-Davey Moore undercard, when padding was removed from the gloves that beat the overmatched Collins into a medically induced retirement and indirectly led to his untimely death nine months later.

Resto eventually purged his soul in a TV documentary released last year, admitting to both Collins' and his own family that he'd been aware of the pre- fight malfeasance but chose not to do anything to stop it...an admission that may help him sleep at night, but, were it me in the Collins' shoes, would have warranted little more than a slammed door in the face.

Just because Margarito didn't get away with it doesn't mean it wasn't a crime.

And just because Bob Arum says it's OK doesn't mean he?s any less loathsome for doing so.

As for me, I'm glad there's at least one person in my house who saw through them both.

Thanks, hon...good catch.

* * * * *

This week's title-fight schedule:

WEDNESDAY
Vacant IBF junior lightweight title -- Brakpan, South Africa
Mzonke Fana (No. 1 contender) vs. Cassius Baloyi (No. 2 contender)
Fana (29-4, 12 KO): Fifth title fight (2-2, 1 KO); Held IBF title in 2007-08
Baloyi (37-4-1, 19 KO): Twelfth title fight (8-3, 4 KO); Decisioned Fana in 2008
Fitzbitz says: "Resume and a win the first time around give Baloyi the edge." Baloyi by decision

IBF flyweight title -- Brakpan, South Africa Moruti Mthalane (champion) vs. Zolani Tete (No. 1 contender)
Mthalane (25-2, 16 KO): First title defense; Lost first IBF/IBO title shot in 2008
Tete (13-0, 11 KO): First title fight; Nine of 11 KOs in first round
Fitzbitz says: "Quality of foes is weak, but Tete packs a title-worthy punch." Tete in 9

FRIDAY
WBC strawweight title -- Chiang Mai, Thailand
Oleydong Sithsamerchai (champion) vs. Pornsawan Porpramook (No. 6 contender)
Sithsamerchai (34-0, 12 KO): Sixth title defense; Decisioned Porpramook in 2008
Porpramook (22-3, 16 KO): Fourth title fight (0-3, 0 KO); Two wins in five fights after 20-0 start
Fitzbitz says: "Defending champ a wide winner in title rematch." Sithsamerchai by decision

SATURDAY
IBF junior flyweight title -- Mar del Plata, Argentina
Luis Alberto Lazarte (champion) vs. Nerys Espinoza (No. 8 contender)
Lazarte (47-9-1, 18 KO): First title defense; Lost first four title fights at 105, 108 and 112 (2)
Espinoza (29-5-1, 20 KO): Third title fight (0-2, 0 KO); First fight in Argentina
Fitzbitz says: "A surprise champ, Lazarte should get through one defense." Lazarte by decision

IBF welterweight title -- Ljubljana, Slovenia
Jan Zaveck (champion) vs. Rafael Jackiewicz (No. 1 contender)
Zaveck (29-1, 17 KO): Second title defense; Lost split decision to Jackiewicz in 2008
Jackiewicz (36-8-1, 18 KO): First title defense; Unbeaten since 2005 (21-0, 11 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "Rematch goes the other way for defending champion." Zaveck by decision

WBA middleweight title -- Cologne, Germany
Felix Sturm (champion) vs. Giovanni Lorenzo (No. 7 contender)
Sturm (33-2-1, 14 KO): Eighth title defense; Former WBO (2003-04) and WBA (2006) champion
Lorenzo (29-2, 21 KO): Second title fight (0-1, 0 KO); Lost only career fight in Germany
Fitzbitz says: "An under-appreciated belt-holder retains a long-time title." Sturm by decision

WBC junior flyweight title -- Guadalajara, Mexico
Omar Nino Romero (champion) vs. Ronald Barrera (unranked)
Romero (29-3-2, 11 KO): First title defense; Previously held WBC title in 2006
Barrera (27-7-2, 17 KO): Fourth title fight (0-3, 0 KO); Fourth fight in Mexico (1-2, 1 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "Barrera remains a career-long bridesmaid." Romero by decision

WBO junior lightweight title -- Glasgow, Scotland
Roman Martinez (champion) vs. Ricky Burns (No. 1 contender)
Martinez (24-0-1, 15 KO): Third title defense; Won only previous fight in Europe (1-0, 1 KO)
Burns (28-2, 7 KO): First title fight; Unbeaten since 2007 (13-0, 4 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "Martinez improving as his title reign lengthens." Martinez by decision

WBO flyweight title -- Monterrey, Mexico
Julio Cesar Miranda (champion) vs. Ronald Ramos (No. 15 contender)
Miranda (32-5-1, 25 KO): First title defense; Last 13 wins by KO since 2007
Ramos (29-8-3, 15 KO): First title fight; Three wins in last six fights (3-1-2, 2 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "Miranda's a banger in with a less-than-title-ready opponent." Miranda in 8

Last week's picks: 2-0 Overall picks record: 220-76 (74.3 percent)

Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/fitzbitz.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.