Former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito is ready to step back into the ring and leave behind an embarrassing one-year suspension for being caught with illegal hand wraps before a fight against Shane Mosley.
The self-proclaimed “Tijuana Tornado” faces Roberto Garcia tonight in the main event of a pay-per-view show from Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Margarito is moving up to junior welterweight for the bout and weighed 154 pounds during Friday’s weigh-in. Garcia weighed 153.
“I am so glad to get back into the ring. I really missed the crowds and all of the fans – but I always kept training,” Margarito said after the weigh-in. “I never left the ring. I feel strong and I am ready.”
Margarito (37-6, 27 KOs) hasn’t fought since losing to Mosley on Jan. 24, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Before the fight, Mosley’s trainer, Naazim Richardson, noticed a plaster-like substance in Margarito’s wraps and called for them to be redone.
Margarito wound up getting stopped in the ninth round in what was considered a mild upset.
After a hearing before the California Athletic Commission, Margarito and trainer Javier Capetillo were each suspended for at least one year, a decision upheld by other state athletic commissions. Margarito could have boxed in Mexico, but decided to stay out of the ring in the hopes of fighting in the United States in the future.
Margarito claims he knew nothing about the illegal wraps and blamed Capetillo, whom he fired as his trainer. He is now working with Robert Garcia.
Roberto Garcia (28-2, 21 KOs) is not expected to give Margarito much trouble, even though he’s been working with Freddie Roach and his record looks good on paper. Garcia is riding a five-year, 14-bout unbeaten streak, even though his résumé is missing any big names.