Bob Arum is furious with the New York State Athletic Commission and chairperson Melvina Lathan over what appears to be an imminent denial in Antonio Margarito's application for license to box in the state, which is sending the scheduled December 3 Cotto vs Margarito rematch west. From Jake Donovan at BoxingScene.com:
"The commission completely sandbagged us. During their testimony, Melvina Lathan – the commissioner – turns around and says, 'Don’t believe them; they’re lying.' This woman who knows nothing says that the two leading ophthalmologists are lying. A building that is 90% sold out and they’re going to pull this."
As the New York commission has denied request for comment, we're getting only the Top Rank side of the story right now, and frankly speaking, it appears as though Arum has a legit complaint, but there are two sides to this.
Margarito's eye, opthamologist testimony or not, is in questionable shape at best. Good enough for some commissions, apparently not good enough for New York. The NYSAC is a very strict commission. Other commissions -- Arum says Texas, Colorado and Mississippi -- will let this pass, but there are also commissions out there who licensed Tommy Morrison (West Virginia) in the last decade, too.
One commission licensing Margarito does not mean all of them will, or that all of them should, or even that any of them should. Israel Vazquez fought in California with a bad eye last year. Didn't go well. Not all commissions are created equal, to say the least, and New York is known for taking a hard line on medical issues. Texas, on the other hand, is not. Texas re-licensed Evander Holyfield after Holyfield had his taken away in New York, and they also licensed Edwin Valero despite his having a brain bleed due to a motorcycle accident, earlier in his career. I also think Jermain Taylor would have had a tough time making his upcoming comeback if he'd targeted New York.
If the NYSAC only recently gained knowledge of Margarito having eye surgery this year -- which is the only good explanation for why they would allow Margarito and Top Rank to apply for a license late in the game, why Lathan and thus the commission would support the September 20 press conference in New York (Lathan attended), and why they allowed for tickets to be sold to the Madison Square Garden show -- then why didn't they know more? Infrequent readers of boxing web sites knew that Margarito had eye surgery this year for bad injuries. Wasn't anyone on top of this?
This is a situation that just doesn't happen often. There will be an official announcement made tomorrow as to whether or not Margarito will be licensed by New York, but the odds aren't looking good at all, and if Arum is bold enough to make the statements he's making, then it's almost a lock that New York isn't licensing Margarito, and Arum is trying to find a new venue immediately.
Another possible consequence here: Big-time boxing has been largely absent in New York thanks to a lot of factors, notably the taxes on fighters' purses, and this may make Top Rank reluctant to go back any time soon.