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Antonio Margarito bets on himself in sponsorship deal

October 13, 2010 |  4:32 pm

The Orange County clothing company Affliction used to sponsor Antonio Margarito in the three fights that ended with the Tijuana boxer's infamous 2009 loss to Shane Mosley, when plaster-caked inserts were confiscated from inside Margarito's hand wraps before the bout.

Margarito Margarito and his uncle-translator, Fernando Ramirez, re-visited Affliction President Tom Atencio about two weeks ago to inquire about renewing the deal for Margarito's Nov. 13 bout against Manny Pacquiao at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"Anyone in his right mind would be hesitant -- I was hesitant given his situation [with the scandal], and the fact he's fighting Pacquiao," Atencio said. "Nobody's coming close to beating Pacquiao. He's at the top of his game."

Ramirez said, "Affliction was saying the economy was bad, it wasn't looking good."

Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) then made a confident pronouncement.

"Tell them I'm wearing the shirt," Margarito told Ramirez in Spanish. "I don't want anything if I lose. But if I win, I want this five-figure deal."

Said Atencio: "My partner and I just looked at each other and said, 'That's punk rock, that's who we are,' and we couldn't think of a better way to support him."

So Atencio guaranteed the undisclosed five-figure deal should Margarito upset Pacquiao in the junior-middleweight world title fight, and promised Margarito some royalties from sales of the special Affliction "Margarito" shirt that the boxer will wear during the filming of HBO's "24/7" preview show and also at the pre- and post-fight news conferences, the weigh-in and his ring walk on fight night.

"The value of the sponsorship could be in the six figures," Atencio said. "If he does win, it'll catapult him and us. It's a gamble."

Ramirez said Margarito's bold stance followed another proposed side bet in which the boxer told Ramirez he'd wager his Mercedes against the uncle's Jeep.

"I've never seen Tony this sure of himself," Ramirez said. "He's faced the anger at him and he has the hunger to beat Pacquiao and prove he's a real world champion. Pacquiao's going to have a hard time with him. Tony's so hungry to be viewed as the fighter he was before [the hand-wraps scandal]. He's out to clean his name."

--Lance Pugmire