MARGARITO: impressive showing needed. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Graham's Odds: 
Margarito -1250; Johnson +650
Over 9.5 +140; under 9.5 -160

Back in action after losing his welterweight title to Paul Williams in July, Antonio Margarito needs a strong showing against veteran Golden Johnson on Saturday’s PPV card at Madison Square Garden.

Margarito knows that he lost the fight to Williams by not being nearly busy enough in the early rounds, when the tall southpaw piled up points.

For Saturday’s fight I expect to see a fast early pace and more punching from Margarito in the early rounds, more in keeping with the Mexican welterweight’s “Tijuana Tornado” nickname,

Johnson, 33, is a capable fighter whose career has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence with upset wins over previously unbeaten Mexican welterweight Freddy Hernandez and fringe contender Oscar Diaz, but he hasn’t boxed for a year and has had only four fights in five years. The boxer from San Antonio has been around a long time and it is easy to forget that almost nine years ago he challenged Sugar Shane Mosley for the lightweight title, getting stopped in the seventh round.

In the fights with Hernandez and Diaz, Johnson showed sharp boxing skills, a good, stiff jab and combinations. He knocked down Hernandez and he had Diaz bloodied and hurt.

Boxing is all about levels of competition, though, and on Saturday Johnson meets a big, strong, former champion who knows that to have any chance of meeting the winner out of the Mosley-Miguel Cotto main event he must not only win on Saturday but look good doing so.

It may be unfair to say so, but Margarito’s career seems to me to have stalled.

At one time he was considered the fighter that Floyd Mayweather Jr. was reluctant to meet. Then came Margarito’s difficult win over Joshua Clottey, while Paul Williams not only beat him but actually outfought him in the all-important last round.

As things are now, Margarito is looking like a fighter who had been a little overrated. He can do a lot to correct this perception by pounding his way to an impressive victory over Johnson in a big-time setting.

While Johnson is a good fighter, I do not think he will be able to deal with the sort of pressure that Margarito is capable of applying. Assuming Margarito does in fact come out in aggressive fashion and gets right down to business, I think that by the middle rounds he will be starting to overwhelm Johnson with his steady volume of punches.

I think that Johnson will be wilting by the eighth of the scheduled 12-rounder and I think the ending will come soon after this, maybe in the ninth or 10th, as Margarito keeps the punches coming to bring the referee’s intervention.

RESULT: Margarito KO 1.

Last Updated: 
November 9, 2007 - 2:24am