Antonio Margarito has been haunted by a hand-wrapping scandal for more than a year. A video in which he appeared to make fun of a trainer with Parkinson’s disease didn’t earn the former welterweight champion many friends, either.
His gutsy performance in a loss to Manny Pacquiao earned him at least one.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called Margarito on Wednesday and praised him for his performance inside his opulent stadium on Saturday night, even though the one-sided loss left Margarito with a broken orbital bone that required surgery this week.
Promoter Top Rank said in a statement that Jones contacted Margarito shortly after he was released from Methodist Hospital in Dallas, calling him “a great warrior” and telling Margarito that he has “a friend for life.”
Margarito had been hospitalized since shortly after the fight, which left him with several deep cuts and massive bruising to his face. He had surgery Tuesday to repair the fractured orbital bone and was headed back to Los Angeles with his wife Michelle, trainer Robert Garcia and managers Francisco Espinoza and Sergio Diaz when he got the call from Jones.
“Jerry told us to ‘call me any time’ when we are in the Dallas area,” Diaz said.
Margarito was fighting in the U.S. for the first time since January 2009, when he was found to have a plaster-like substance in his hand wraps before a loss to Shane Mosley. The incident caused many fans to sour on Margarito, who previously had an impeccable reputation, and many criticized Top Rank’s decision to give him a fight with Pacquiao.
Even though he lost, Margarito was guaranteed at least $3 million, and that total could reach $6 million once the pay-per-view numbers are tabulated this week.
Then in the days before the fight, a video was released in which Margarito appears to make fun of Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, who has Parkinson’s disease, by holding up a shaking hand. Margarito apologized for the video and said he was trying to convey that Roach and Pacquiao were shaking because they were afraid to face him in the ring.
Margarito skipped the traditional post-fight press conference Saturday night at the urging of doctors so he could be treated at the hospital, but later issued a statement in which he congratulated Pacquiao on winning a title in a record-extending eighth weight division.
“I gave it all I had, but unfortunately I was not able to get the victory over the best fighter in the world,” Margarito said. “As I said before the fight, I was never going to quit and tried to win this fight to the very last minute.”
The doctors who performed surgery to repair Margarito’s fractured orbital bone said there were no complications and there would be no lingering effects with his right eye. Still, it will be at least a couple months before Margarito is able to get back to work.
After that, Margarito and his team will decide whether he will fight again.
“Antonio is such a warrior. The first thing he asked was, ‘When can I start running?’ And we told him he has to relax for a while,” Diaz said. “For sure, at least 60 days of no contact of any kind in a gym.”