By Jake Donovan
Antonio Margarito is set for his first fight in more than four years, as he faces second generation boxer Jorge Paez Jr. in a scheduled 10-round super welterweight headliner Saturday evening in Mexico City, Mexico.
Both fighters came in right at the 154 lb. divisional limit. More than 10,000 fans are expected to be in attendance at Arena Ciudad de Mexico, where the event will air on TV Azteca in Mexico and beIN Sport Español in the United States (11:00 p.m. ET).
Tijuana's Margarito (38-8, 27KOs) has been out of the ring since his 10th round knockout loss to Miguel Cotto in their revenge-fueled Dec. '11 rematch at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Paez Jr. (39-7-2, 23KOs) fights outside the welterweight limit - where he's already looked fleshy - for the first time since a 10-round decision win over Omar Chavez in a July '12 battle of boxing offspring.
There was once hope for Paez Jr. separating himself from a generation of boxing sons of famous fathers from Mexico. Through 11 years in the pro ranks, it appears that he will never come close to enjoying even a modicum of success achieved by his father, former featherweight champ Jorge Paez Sr.
The 28-year old boxer from Mexicali comes in on the heels of a 10-round loss to Carlos Ocampo last November. His recent downward spiral and moving up in weight will only add to the number of reasons Margarito's comeback is met with more scorn than embrace.
Margarito - a former two-time welterweight titlist - became boxing's most unwanted following a hand-wrapping scandal prior to an eventual one-sided nine-round beatdown at the hands of Shane Mosley in their Jan. '09 HBO headliner. The fight came six months after a career-best 11th round knockout of Cotto, a fight in which he has been retroactively accused by fans and media - as well as Cotto and HBO, who aired both Cotto-Margarito fights on its PPV arm - of cheating much longer than just the night he was caught.
A year-long ban was issued to Margarito following the Mosley fallout, along with his trainer Javier Capetillo receiving at the time a lifetime ban from the California State Athletic Commission. Only three fights have followed for Margarito - his last win coming in a 10-round decision over Roberto Garcia in May '10, also the last time he fought in Mexico; a decisive 12-round loss to Manny Pacquiao in Nov. '10; and the aforementioned stoppage loss to Cotto.
The lopsided loss to Pacquiao should have functionally ended Margarito's career, suffering a broken orbital bone and a detached retina. The New York State Athletic Commission nearly pulled the plug on the Cotto rematch after expressing concern - very late into the promotion - over Margarito's medical history before agreeing to move forward to the fight.
Recent photos suggest his eyes still haven't fully healed, yet the former champ - who turns 38 later this month - insists his latest comeback is more about pride than financial gain.
The 10,000-plus expected to be in attendance suggest that he remains a viable draw for now, if not only for the curiosity factor.
Included amongst a lengthy undercard is super bantamweight contender César Juárez, who returns for the first time since his thriller with Nonito Donaire in their vacant title fight last December. The 24-year old local favorite faces fellow capital city native Giovani Delgado in a scheduled 10-round bout.
Juárez (17-4, 13KOs) - who became an instant fan favorite after recovering from two knockdowns to drag Donaire through hell in their 12-round war - weighed 124.8 lbs. Delgado checked in at 128.9 lbs.
Antonio Margarito, 154 lbs. vs. Jorge Paez Jr., 154 lbs. - 10 rds, super welterweight
César Juárez 124.8 lbs. vs Giovani Delgado 128.9 lbs. - 10 rds, featherweight
Emmanuel Navarrete 120.5 lbs. vs Oswaldo Castro 120.5 lbs. - 10 rds, super bantamweight
Ramón Hidalgo 141 lbs. vs Francisco Rojo 141 lbs. - 8 rds, super lightweight
Uriel Pérez 138 lbs. vs Antonio Morán 138 lbs. - 6 rds, super lightweight
Victor Olivo 120 lbs. vs Francisco Pérez 118.5 lbs. - 6 rds, bantamweight
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox