UPDATE: Margarito has been cleared of any wrongdoing in his win against Miguel Cotto, according to Sports Illustrated. Keith Kizer of the Nevada State Athletic Commission says he's "as certain [he] as can be" that Margarito had nothing in his gloves against Cotto.
Due to absence of evidence, Margarito is as cleared for the Cotto fight as possible. There's not much more that can be learned past an admission of guilt from someone in Margarito's camp, and that's not likely, even if it were true, which, again, we'll never know. On that, I am as certain as I can be.
(Thanks to Brickhaus for the heads-up.)
Source: George Willis, NY Post
Trainer Naazim Richardson, who is the man that noticed something askew about the handwraps of Antonio Margarito on Saturday night, called the acts of the Margarito corner "deliberate," and the NY Post's George Wills has several more damning quotes from on-site sources, too.
In the process of wrapping the other hand, Richardson questioned the amount of tape going directly on Margarito's skin, and asked for a rewrapping. During the rewrapping, it got to a point where a cushion was placed across Margarito's knuckles. But when Richardson asked if he could "feel" the cushion that's when the Margarito camp began to protest.
Margarito's co-manager Francisco Espinoza was the most defiant telling Richardson, "I expected this from you," to which Richardson said: "You should expect me to do my job."
From there, here's what else we learn from Willis' column:
- Richardson said when he felt the cushion, it was "brick hard." Dean Lohuis of the CSAC felt it, too, and ordered it to be opened, at which point a "little square block of old wet gauze packed real tight came out. It was like it had plaster on it," according to Richardson.
- When the other hand was ordered unwrapped and another block came out of the second hand, a doctor from the Mosley camp inspected them and said, "This is what we use in the hospital to make casts."
- "It looked to me like the kind of thing that if the fight went on when (Margarito's) hands got sweaty and it would harden so it would feel like a cast," said Mosley's lawyer, Judd Burstein.
- Richardson went on: "As you fight the natural cushion in the gloves wear down, so by the later rounds you're basically getting hit with that plaster in there. That kind of stuff is ridiculous."
- So did Burstein: I've never seen somebody not working out sweating as badly as the guy who was wrapping Margarito's hands when this was going on. It was like they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar."
A Top Rank official says in the article that any issue is between Margarito's trainer, Javier Capetillo, and the California State Athletic Commission. This assumes that Margarito had no idea what was going on, in which case I'd agree that Margarito should perhaps be suspended for a year or so, but not banned or anything like that.
BUT -- and this is a big, big but -- I will have a hard time believing that Antonio Margarito or any other fighter is that unaware of something like this. When the Shane Mosley BALCO stuff started coming out and Mosley denied any knowledge of EPO or "the Clear" being an illegal substance, I said the same thing, that there's no way Mosley didn't know exactly what was being put into his body.
And since we've had a couple people (well, one, adamantly) wondering about the Mosley stuff:
1. EPO is not a steroid. It is used for "blood doping" because it increases red blood cell count and thus increases endurance. I'm not saying it should be OK for anyone to use (even in billiards, where it was apparently used and caught according to a Chicago Tribune article in March 2008) in athletics for an advantage, because it's not. But it is not a steroid. People need to stop using the word "steroids" as a catch-all for performance-enhancing drugs.
2. If you missed it, "the Clear" was not ruled a steroid until January 2005, long after the BALCO lab had been closed, and long after Mosley fought de la Hoya. That substance was not banned when Mosley fought Oscar.
We're still waiting on anything official from the CSAC, just like the rest of the world. This is a story that won't go away because it shouldn't. And for the fifteenth time, I'm not accusing Margarito of anything, so hold on to your pants.
Furthermore, the Margarito camp is firmly denying wrongdoing:
"We did not do anything illegal. What happened was that Capetillo prepared the gauzes that are used two weeks before the fight, and had them in a lump with cloth that apparently was humid and therefore hardened. There was no substance like [plaster]. The commission asked us to bandage his hands again and we did."
Bob Arum is still eyeing a Margarito-Cotto rematch for June, too.