- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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It is not unusual for a fighter who says he is retiring to reconsider and return. Sometimes it's only a matter of days, such as this week’s announcement from Audley Harrison that he was coming back just 20 days after announcing his retirement. Sometimes it is years. George Foreman, for example, was retired for a decade before launching a comeback that included reclaiming the heavyweight championship.
When former welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito, notoriously remembered for getting caught with illegal knuckle pads coated with a plasterlike substance before a 2009 fight with Shane Mosley and his subsequent license revocation, announced his retirement after taking a beating from Miguel Cotto in their rematch for Cotto’s junior middleweight title in December 2011, many figured it would be only be a matter of time until the “Tijuana Tornado” made a comeback, despite a surgically repaired right eye that Cotto smashed up.
Rumors have swirled recently that Margarito (38-8, 27 KOs), 35, was on the verge of unretiring because of financial difficulty while going through a divorce. Frankly, money issues or not, few would have been surprised had he done so.
But Margarito, who lives in Los Angeles, put the rumors to rest this week when he issued a statement denying any financial issues (which he shouldn’t have after the millions he earned for major fights against Cotto, Manny Pacquiao and Mosley) and saying that he wasn’t coming back.
“I was surprised by several unfounded rumors regarding my current situation, including news on a return to boxing and supposedly a divorce settlement that has left me broke and with the need to return to boxing,” Margarito said in a statement. “In some cases, the information dealt with news of my return, and some unfounded news about a settlement. However, some tabloid media has gone further than that, spreading unfounded rumors that no one took the trouble to investigate fully. I am the fist to admit that my time [on] the boxing stage is a thing of the past and as a man who has his feet firmly on the ground, I also know that I have to be jealous of guarding my property as it will be difficult to find another profession that could produce a higher yield than what I earned in the ring. However; there is some damage to my family that can be done by spreading lies and half-truths.”
Margarito explained that he and his wife, Michelle, have been separated for more than two years and that she is in a new relationship and pregnant. He said he has also started a new life and has a baby with girlfriend Lorena Vidales.
“The divorce settlement has not been finalized and as civilized people we respect each other's life, and during this time have been negotiating the settlement,” Margarito said. “With what we will share, I expect that it will help us to live, if not full of luxuries, in a comfortable lifestyle. However, when people start talking of ‘a millionaire settlement,’ it exposes Michelle and my children -- who live in Tijuana, Mexico -- to becoming victims of blackmail and even kidnapping. That is why I wanted to make this public statement about the situation.
“I accepted and still accept any criticism about my boxing career and was always thankful that the press covered my boxing career. But this is not a case strictly related to the sport. I believe that boxing has been used by a few journalists to trample on my private life, showing no respect for other people who have nothing to do with boxing and could be seriously hurt by this erroneous information.”