Margarito watches and waits as his brother-in law wins on a card full of blood, guts and controversy
By Norm Frauenheim (Ringside)
TUCSON – There was no comeback from Antonio Margarito. That will have to wait. But there was a split decision, a couple of split lips, controversy and a tentative comeback from a leading prospect whose fight with fragile hands continues.
Margarito could only watch Saturday night, first from a seat and then from a corner behind trainer Roberto Garcia at Casino Del Sol’s outdoor arena where the former welterweight champion is expected to fight on July 20 in his first bout since his dramatic loss to Miguel Cotto in December.
Margarito, who had been scheduled to fight Abel Perry Saturday night, was there for his brother-in-law, Hanzel Martinez (18-0, 15 KOs), who won a minor World Boxing Council bantamweight title when Felipe Rivas (13-10-1, 7 KOs) suddenly quit before the seventh.
Rivas, who agreed to the fight only two days before opening bell, scored a third-round knockdown and was leading on the scorecards when he abruptly checked out. Rivas said he decided he couldn’t continue because of the difference in weight.
“The pounds were just too much,’’ Rivas, a Mexican, said through an interpreter.
Rivas weighed in on Friday at 116.2 pounds. Martinez’ official weight was 118.
Rivas, whose compact punches left Martinez bleeding from the nose and lip, said he knew he was winning.
“But it wasn’t worth for me to continue in a fight like this,’’ said Rivas, who is from the border town of Nogales, about 60 miles south of Tucson.
Martinez’ corner believed that Rivas, penalized a point in the third for spitting his bloodied mouthpiece at Martinez, just ducked the inevitable. Martinez, who appeared to get stronger in the sixth, would have scored a knockout within the next two rounds, said Garcia and Sergio Diaz of ShowDown Promotions.
The in-laws, it turns out, fight the same way. Both Margarito and Martinez are notorious slow starters.
Diaz said he hopes to have Martinez back at Casino Del Sol on a card scheduled for July 20, when Margarito’s comeback has been re-scheduled for a second time. It was postponed the first time, from May 26 to July 7, because of a strain to an Achilles tendon suffered while training in Tijuana about a week after the fight with Perry was formally announced. It was re-scheduled again, this time to July 20, to accommodate TV Azteca, which has other bouts scheduled for July 7.
“Tony’s been running and is in good shape,’’ said Diaz, who said Perry is still Margarito’s opponent.
However, It’s not clear who will train Margarito, who was in Martinez’ dressing room and not immediately available for comment. Garcia was in Margarito’s corner for losses to Cotto and Manny Pacquiao. Some have urged Margarito to retire because of damage suffered to his right eye, which was surgically-repaired after the orbital bone was fractured by Pacquiao. Margarito said in March that he hopes for a shot at fellow Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in September.
“He’s still working out in Tijuana,’’ Garcia said. “This is not just about me. He has lot of thinking to do.’’
In a main event put together after Margarito’s injury in early May, Mexican super-welterweight Jesus Soto Karass (25-7-3, 16 KOs) battled to a split decision over Said El Harrack (1-2-1, 4 KOs) of Henderson, Nev.
“It was tough fight,’’ said Soto Karass, who rocked El Harrack, a Moroccan, with uppercuts to the stomach. “That guy is a good fighter. My body assault won it for me.’’
Before Soto Karrass-El Harrack and the Martinez-Rivas controversy, Phoenix prospect Jose Benavidez Jr.’s tested his right wrist for the first time since undergoing surgery for a misplaced bone in January. Benavidez (15-0, 12 KOs) was cautious early, throwing only three right hands in the first round en route to a unanimous decision over Josh Sosa (10-3, 5 KOs). Benavidez relied on a powerful jab, head to body and body to head, throughout most of the next five rounds, until rocking Sosa with rights in the bout’s final moments.
There was no further pain in the right hand or wrist, Benavidez said. However, there was swelling and bruising on the middle knuckle of the left. Benavidez has had problems with both hands. The 20-year-old junior-welterweight will have a physician look at the left hand sometime within the next week, his dad-and-trainer, Jose Benavidez Sr. said.
Best of the undercard
Super-lightweight Abel Ramos (4-0, 3 KOs) of Arizona City displayed a prospect’s power with a second-round stoppage of Cassius Clay (0-4,), a Las Vegas fighter who has the legend’s original name and a photo of himself as an infant in the arms of the heavyweight champ better known as Muhammad Ali.
In the first, Ramos threw an overhand right that lifted Clay up and dropped him on to the canvas as though he had fallen off a one-meter diving board. At 1:54 of the second, Ramos threw another right. Clay spit out his mouthpiece in a gesture that needed no interpretation. He was finished.
· Lightweight Javier Garcia (8-2-1, 7 KOs), of trainer Robert Garcia’s gym in Oxnard, Calif., scored four knockdowns, forcing Juan Jaramillo (8-11-2, 3 KOs) of Salem, Ore., to quit after the fifth round.
· Lightweight Eric Flores (3-1-1, 1 KO) of Los Angeles scored a unanimous decision over Rudolfo Gamez (1-2) of Tucson.
· Lightweight Andrey Klimov (14-0, 7 KOs) stayed unbeaten with a unanimous decision over Alejandro Rodriguez (13-6, 6 KOs) of Mexico.
· Phoenix super-middleweight Andrew Hernandez (4-0-1 scored a unanimous decision over Katrell Strauss (2-2, 1 KO) of Denver.
Photo by Phil Soto / Top Rank