We'll have more quotes and stories coming shortly from today's New York press conference for the December 3 HBO pay-per-view fight between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, but let's start here, because I think this was the biggest thing to come out of the event.
In a somewhat strange turn, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum suggested something of a pro wrestling-style gimmick that called up Margarito's highly controversial past, and notably, his glove-loading incident prior to his 2009 loss to Shane Mosley. That whole debacle resulted in Margarito receiving an indefinite suspension from the California commission, which would up lasting a little over a year before Margarito was denied a new license in California, prior to going to Texas for the licensing for his November 2010 fight against Manny Pacquiao.
"I know there's been a lot of discussion, and you don't hide it under the table by not mentioning it, about hand-wraps and pads and so forth," Arum began. "One thing we want to make sure, with the help of the New York athletic commission, that that issue will not arise in this fight."
He continued on, and addressed part of his spiel to commission chairperson Melvina Lathan, who was in attendance.
"And so I was given this idea, which I think it's a great one, and I hope it's adopted by the New York State Athletic Commission. At the weigh-in, I propose, Melvina, that each trainer give to the New York State Athletic Commission the hand-wraps, the pads that they intend to use on the night of the fight.
"They'll put be into an envelope after they're inspected by your inspectors, and each fighter will have this suitcase, which will be held by the athletic commission until the fighters arrive in the dressing room. At which time the inspectors will give each trainer his respective box, with the wraps having been approved by the commission, with the hand pads having been approved by the commission. There will be no tampering with them. Completely sealed. And that will be used by each fighter. So one issue that will not be present after this fight will be the question of hand-wraps.
"OK, Melvina?," Arum asked.
"We'll discuss that," she responded.
There is a strange disregard for the seriousness of Margarito's infractions here. I think Arum is serious about doing all of this, but it is without question a promotional ploy more than anything else. If it were simply about assuring people that nothing bad will happen with the wraps or the gloves in this fight, Arum could make clear that he's fully confident that New York's inspectors won't allow anything to go wrong.
So it winds up sounding like some kind of joke, like he's almost poking fun at the very idea of Margarito previously attempting to cheat with tampered gloves. Is that good controversy or bad controversy? Floyd Mayweather Jr has sparked controversy this week, which I think is mostly good for the sport. It's rocket fuel in terms of discussion, and everyone talking about Floyd, and talking about boxing.
But this seems a little low to me, a little desperate, and like something that could really turn off fans who are on the fence about this fight even taking place to begin with. A good chunk of the boxing audience doesn't dislike or "hate" Margarito the way they dislike or "hate" Mayweather. Margarito is seen by many as someone who should not even be allowed in a boxing ring. To even give the hint of poking fun at the reason those people feel that way is the equivalent of poking a bear, except this time it's a bear whose money they want for the pay-per-view.
Maybe some will just think this is cute, maybe some will think it's showmanship and theatrics, maybe some will believe it's "good controversy." I don't. I think this is too serious a matter to present lightly, and if this was meant to be a 100% serious suggestion with no other motives, then it was played all wrong.