By Dan Ambrose: 37-year-old former IBF/WBA welterweight champion Antonio Margarito (38-8, 27 KOs) will be making a comeback in two months from now against 28-year-old Jorge Paez Jr. (39-7-2, 23 KOs) in a scheduled 10 round bout at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico, in Mexico City, Mexico.
This will be the first fight for Margarito since his 10th round stoppage loss to Miguel Cotto five years ago in 2011. Margarito stepped away from the sport after that loss due to eye problems to his right eye.
Margarito suffered an eye injury in his 12 round decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in 2010. He suffered a fractured orbital bone and a torn retina in that loss. Three surgeries later, Margarito came back fought Cotto in a rematch without a tune-up beforehand.
It was a crazy thing to do because it was pretty obvious that Margarito would have problems with his surgically repaired eye. Sure enough, Margarito’s eye swelled shut fast under the pounding from Cotto’s punches, and the fight was eventually stopped on the advice of the ringside doctor.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum could look to help Margarito get a boxing license to fight in the United States if he shines against Paez Jr. For Margarito get licensed in the U.S, he would need to pass an eye exam on his surgically repaired eye.
“Let’s see how he does with Paez first before we make a big effort to get him licensed in the United States,” Arum told ESPN.com. “Paez is a good test for a guy who’s been out of action as long as Margarito has been.”
Paez Je. Has lost two out of his last three fights in defeats against Carlos Ocampo and Jose Benavidez in 2015. Paez Jr. also lost to Vivian Harris in 2014. Margarito might lose to Paez Jr., especially if his right eye starts swelling up from the shots he’s getting hit with.
It’s too bad that Top Rank can’t get Margarito back with them to stage his comeback fight on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley fight card on April 9th because they could sure use a fight like that on the card to help drum up PPV sales.
Margarito was a good fighter during his best years from 2001 to 2008. But in 2009, things went sour for him, when he was involved the hand-wrap scandal in his fight against Shane Mosley. Margarito lost the fight by a 9th round knockout. He was then subsequently suspended from boxing for a year before coming back in 2010 to defeat Roberto Garcia. Margarito only twice more against Pacquiao and Cotto before retiring from boxing.
By the time Margarito fights in March, he’ll be 38-years-old, and it’s difficult to imagine him being able to find his way back to the form that he showed in the prime of his career. Even Margarito’s last three fights before retiring, he looked to have lost hand speed and punching power. Margarito just appeared to be a slow puncher with moderate power. He was pretty much living off his old name at that point in his career. At 38, he’s likely worse than he was five years ago. I can’t imagine him looking good against Paez Jr. Even if wins, I think it’s going to be a life and death struggle for Margarito.