After a four-plus-year absence from boxing, Antonio Margarito (39-8, 27 KOs) returned to the ring Saturday night in Mexico with a unanimous-decision win over Jorge Paez Jr. (39-8-2).
Per BoxRec, here are the judges' scores: 95-94, 97-93, 96-93.
The fight was a war that saw Paez knock Margarito down in the sixth round with a hard right hand. Margarito rose to his feet, survived the round and controlled the later frames to earn the victory.
BeIN Sports Espanol shared a replay of the knockdown:
beIN SPORTS Español @ESbeINSPORTS
En el sexto cayó Margarito!!!, Páez no pudo terminarlo, ambos con piernas tambaleantes #MargaritoMaromerito https://t.co/1jLBjPrXjt2016-3-6 05:40:15
While Margarito has been stopped twice in his career, according to BoxRec, this was the first time someone had dropped the 37-year-old Mexican since Danny Perez did so in 1999.
The action went back and forth throughout the fight, with each fighter trading shots in the middle of the ring on several occasions.
Steve Kim of Undisputed Champions Network marveled at the brawl:
Back to Steve Kim @steveucnlive
Damn, Margarito-Paez is the type of battle that books and sonnets are written about. What a war!!! #boxing2016-3-6 05:38:16
Throughout his career, Margarito has had an incredible gas tank and tons of heart. He showed he still possesses both. After he went down and regained his wherewithal, he looked like the fresher and busier fighter.
From Rounds 8 through 10, he landed the more telling blows and appeared to stun Paez a few times. The latter had emptied his gas tank to achieve the knockdown, and he had nothing in reserve for the stretch run.
Coming into the fight, Margarito told Miguel Rivera of BoxingScene.com that he would retire if he lost. That looked like a possibility as he lay flat on his back after Paez's crushing punch in the sixth round. Like a warrior, Margarito picked himself up and came out on top.
It would be nice if fans could enjoy the win for the gutsy performance that it was, but that's almost impossible. Anything Margarito does in boxing will forever be clouded by his temporary ban from the sport for his use of illegal hand wraps prior to his 2009 technical-knockout loss to Shane Mosley.
While Margarito wasn't able to use the loaded hand wraps against Mosley, many suspect he used them in previous fights. That's an almost unforgivable offense in the sport, and it has left him forever tainted.
Nonetheless, Margarito's successful comeback will almost certainly lead to another fight. He would like to challenge for a title at 154 pounds, and because he is a polarizing figure, there's a chance he could be a draw.
That's likely all that is required to put the Tijuana Tornado in the ring with a titleholder.
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