As many expected, Antonio Margarito had his license revoked by the California State Athletic Commission for at least one year, which is nice talk for an indefinite suspension. Trainer Javier Capetillo's license has also been revoked.
The news comes as no shock to most, who saw little wiggle room for Margarito and Capetillo to defend themselves after the hand wraps controversy on January 24, prior to Margarito's one-sided loss to Shane Mosley.
The CSAC's decision stunned and infuriated Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who attended the hearing in Sacramento. Arum, Capetillo and Margarito all insisted the boxer had no knowledge of the illegal nature of the wraps.
"It's an absolute outrage," Arum told The Associated Press. "It's something that I never thought would happen in the United States, where somebody who is totally and completely innocent, has no knowledge what happened, and didn't do anything wrong, gets his license taken away because his trainer allegedly did something wrong. Everybody is blown away. It's absolutely crazy."
Arum's strong defense of Margarito is admirable, but like the athletes who say they didn't know what they were putting into their body after a failed drug test, it's tough to believe that Margarito or any fighter at this level is not aware of what's going on with the hand wraps.
This declaration of ignorance defense has gotten far too rampant in sports, and it insults the intelligence of the fans. Do you know why people are going to call Margarito a liar and a fraud from now on? Because unless this is some extremely rare case, he's lying.
Arum also says he'll be looking into booking Margarito to fight in Mexico. One of the things that I think is going to be an issue is whether or not I can "comfortably" watch Margarito fight from this point forward. I'd essentially be paying PPV money to watch a guy who tried to load up his gloves and injure another fighter. I think it'd be more than just me feeling that way, too.
I also sort of have an ethical problem with Arum booking a guy who tried to cheat in a country like Mexico, where regulations have a tendency to be loose. What stops him from doing it again? In Mexico, Margarito is not going to be held to the same standards. It's a simple fact, and is not generalizing at all. Mexico (and Japan) allow Oscar Larios to continue fighting despite a legitimate medical suspension in the United States.
One more thing: It sort of disgusts me that the Margarito defense that Arum is supporting was the gutless move to throw Capetillo under the bus. In order to save a money fighter's career, they tried to sacrifice the trainer and convince the CSAC and the public that Capetillo tried to wrap Margarito's hands with loaded gloves without Margarito's knowledge. I don't think anyone other than fierce Margarito apologists will buy this idea, and those participating in the attempt to save Margarito and destroy Capetillo should be rather ashamed, including Capetillo.
This decision brings Margarito's entire career into question, the same as any controversy does to any athlete, but this is absolutely different than steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. This is a direct attempt to alter something dangerous enough as it is, to change the outcome and reality of a fight.
Outside of appeals and possible criminal charges from the embarrassed CSAC, this is pretty much over and done with, and the outcome is the worst possible for Margarito and Capetillo. Margarito's entire career has this black cloud hanging over it now, and it'll never go away.