“Damn, that feel hard as hell”. Nazim Richardson, who was Shane Mosley’s trainer at the time, said as he exposed one of the sport’s most shocking would be secrets. “That don’t feel right to me”. Richardson was, of course, talking about the pads inside the wrapping of Mexican WBA welterweight champion, Antonio Margarito. The pads were checked by the California State Inspector Dean Lohuis who agreed that something wasn’t right and ordered Margarito’s hands to be re-wrapped. News of this revelation spread to the media like wildfire and HBO viewers were told that here has ‘been a substance found’ in Antonio Margarito’s handwraps. The fight went ahead as planned and Shane Mosley gave one of the performances of his life, battering Margarito before the referee stopped the fight in the 9th round. Margarito had lost the fight, lost the WBA title and, a few days later, had lost his license with the California State Athletic Commission suspending Margarito (and trainer Javier Capetillo) for at least a year.
At the time, the padding found in Margarito’s wraps (and another padding found in the dressing room) were seized and sent to the California Department of State laboratory for testing. They later confirmed that the substance found in the wrappings was similar to that of plaster of Paris. For those not familiar with the term, when mixed with water, it turns into a rock like state. As the name suggest, similar to that used by plasterers. If the padding hadn’t have been detected by Richardson, and the padding been used in the fight with Shane Mosley, the outcome of the fight could have been very different – and possibly tragic. Interestingly, the pads were also found to have red stains on them, which would bring a prior fight with Miguel Cotto into suspicion…
26th July 2008. Six months before the ‘loaded gloves’ scandal. MGM Grand. Las Vegas. It’s WBA welterweight champion, and Pride of Puerto Rico, Miguel Cotto vs Antonio ‘Tijuana Tornado’ Margarito in an eagerly anticipated world title bout. MIguel Cotto was rated as, p4p, one of the best fighters in the world having disposed of Alfonso Gomez, Shane Mosley and ‘Super’ Zab Judah in his previous three fights. Margarito, on the other hand, was a big hitter, come forward fighter and was one of the most feared men in the welterweight division. Puerto Rico vs Mexico clashes always whetted the appetites and this one was no different. One of the most exciting, brutal fights of the year with both fighters landing big shots. Through to round seven, I had Cotto three rounds up, his slipping and counter punches scoring well. By this stage, though, Cotto has a bloodied nose and, from this point on, the fight took a turn. Miguel Cotto began to take a lot of punishment, his face becoming more and more swollen and bloodied. Cotto tried to keep his distance but, with Margarito relentless in his pursuit, kept taking big punches. By the eleventh round, Cotto’s face is a bloody mess and, after succumbing to a flurry of punches, is forced to take a knee. He takes a standing eight count before getting back up but, a few moments later, takes another knee before his uncle and trainer, Evangelista Cotto, throws in the towel.
Following the defeat, Migel Cotto bleed from both temples, suffered a broken nose and, a s revealed by his late father, ‘cried blood’ for days. People, at the time, believed that Antonio Margarito had put in a career defining performance. Some people still do, however, after the fight red markings where seen on the hand-wraps – the same kind of marks which were to be seen, six months later, on Margarito’s hand-wraps before the Shane Mosley fight. Due to this, and the horrific beating seen on Miguel Cotto’s face, there has been widespread rumor that Antonio Margarito had ‘loaded gloves’ in that fight. It is a belief that many people believe to be true – although it may never be proved. I’ve often compared it to the tragic case of Billy Collins Jnr who, in June 1983, suffered a severe beating and subsequent unanimous decision, to journeyman Luis Resto. Post fight, Billy trainer and father, noticed that Resto’s glove felt thinner than usual and, after they were removed, it was revealed that an ounce of padding had been removed from each gloves – therefore giving Resto a considerable advantage. Unfortunately, Billy Collins Jnr suffered permanent blurred vision and, tragically, took his life a year later, when he crashed his car into a tree. He had never, psychologically, gotten over the beating. Luis Resto, and his trainer Panama Lewis, were banned for life. I feel, like many others, the same punishment should have been handed to Margarito and his trainer.
Nearly three years on, things have moved on for both Cotto and Margarito. Cotto has moved up to light middleweight where he is now WBA champion and Antonio Margarito, having suffered a brave beating at the hands of Manny Pacquiao, is now back boxing at light middleweight. Which means they are both are on a collision course for a rematch and another potential ‘super fight’. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has made it clear that he wants a rematch and it is not surprising – the fight will be an easy sell. Whilst Showtime, who would be likely to show the fight on ppv, would be unlikely to mention the suspicion that loaded gloves were used in the last fight, the boxing public know the history and this will only help ignite interest in the fight. Many people want to see Miguel Cotto get revenge on Antonio Margarito. Others don’t feel that Margarito deserves another pay day – having already been giving one, probably unjustified, against Pacquiao last year. Either way the fight will generate a huge amount of attention and should sell well over 1m ppvs. So do I want to see the fight?
As a big Miguel Cotto fan, being honest, I don’t want to see this rematch. For a start, I don’t think Antonio Margarito should have been able to box again, let alone make millions from it. Whilst he maintains that he didn’t know the gloves were loaded, I find it very hard to accept. As I’m sure many boxers can confirm, you know if your hands are wrapped properly – and even more so if there was a hard substance in them. Tampering with the wrappings/gloves is the most unforgivable sin in boxing and a harder stance should have been taken with Antonio. It’s been said many times that, since Cotto-Marg, Miguel hasn’t been the same fighter. I don’t agree with that completely. That fight, along with the defeat to Pacquiao, has taken a toll on him, that is without question, but he is still one of the most exciting fighters in the world and,with the addition of Emanuel Steward in his corner, hasn’t deteriorated like people predicted. His defense and footwork has improved no end in his last two fights since the switch in trainers and his jab is a now very useful weapon, as showcased in the recent 12th round tko of unpredictable Ricardo Mayorga. Antonio Margarito was ringside for the fight, and roundly booed when shown on the big screens, and was also present for the post fight press conference, fueling the rumors that a July showdown in on the cards. Miguel Cotto has changed his stance on a potential rematch with Margarito, now seemingly open to the idea.
Even as a Cotto fan, I still can’t see past a Margarito victory. Margarito is like a bull and won’t stop coming forward, throwing big rights whilst walking through most of Cotto’s punches. The difference in size will be ridiculous come fight night and Margarito will just be too big. He was too big at middleweight and he will be too big at light middleweight. Whilst I can’t see Cotto getting destroyed as he did in their first fight, Margarito hasn’t battered anyone since the plaster was exposed, I can definitely see a late stoppage in this one. And not for Miguel. In the first fight, Miguel Cotto spent a lot of the fight on the back foot and not getting enough power in his punches to severely trouble Margarito – Steward will have worked on this and will be hoping Miguel Cotto can land enough hard punches to make Margarito take notice. Saying that, even if he does get maximum power on his punches, Margarito is one of the toughest fighters in the sport and, at the weight, I don’t see Cotto’s power causing him a great deal of problems. Margarito has a concrete chin and proven stamina – something, sometimes, Miguel Cotto has lacked. Psychologically, too, Margarito could have a big hold over Cotto. ‘Junito’ will be looking across the ring at a man who, loaded gloves or not, gave him the beating of his life. That, in itself, is a massive advantage. I expect Cotto to take the early rounds with his precise punches but, as the fight goes on, and he tires, Margarito will find more success with his punches and Cotto will more than likely cut late on, with the referee stopping the punishment in the tenth/eleventh round.
Miguel Cotto has suffered too many beatings in his career and, at the later stages of it, I don’t want to see him take another one. And one that will probably cause the Pride of Puerto Rico to hang up his gloves for good
Boxing Bantz – Lee Atkinson the Author of Boxing Bantz can be followed on twitter @boxingbantz , Boxing Bantz and on Ringnews24.com.
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