Sunday, June 04, 2023  |



The punishments are justified

Fighters Network

VAN NUYS, Calif. — Javier Capetillo got what he deserved. And while Antonio Margarito’s punishment might seem harsh, the California State Athletic Commission’s decision isn’t outrageous.

Margarito and his trainer on Tuesday both lost their boxing licenses for one year for placing illegal, unusually hard pads in his hand wraps, which were discovered and removed shortly before he fought Shane Mosley on Jan. 24 in Los Angeles.

At a five-hour hearing, Capetillo, an accomplished trainer from Mexico who has worked with Margarito for more than 10 years, came up with a ridiculous story about accidentally pulling the wrong pads out of his equipment bag but never intending to cheat.

“I didn’t realize,” he said.

Yeah, right. Capetillo knew exactly what he was doing; he was trying to give his fighter an edge against an opponent he knew would be difficult to beat.

Had he gotten away with it, had Margarito fought with doctored gloves, Mosley might’ve been seriously injured or even killed, which would’ve been a worse punishment for both Capetillo and Margarito.

Capetillo has the right to apply for reinstatement in one year. However, don’t be surprised if he doesn’t work in California for many years. This could end up being a lifetime ban, which can be justified when you think about what might’ve happened to Mosley.

The case against Margarito is more complicated.

The state had no concrete evidence proving that Margarito knew what Capetillo was placing into this wraps. This is why all those associated with the fighter were stunned at the commission’s ruling.

How can you punish someone when you can’t prove he did something wrong? That’s a reasonable question.

At the same time, the state’s attorney, Karen Chappelle, came up with a good analogy when she compared Margarito to an athlete who tests positive for steroids and then claims he didn’t know what was going into his body.

No one believes these athletes. Why should we believe Margarito? The suspicion here is that you can feel a hard pad when it’s placed against your knuckles, particularly when you’ve been fighting since you were 8, as he has.

And even if Margarito somehow didn’t know, he should have. An athlete has the responsibility of overseeing his body and what goes in it and on it – even if he relies on a trainer to look out for him.

Plus, Margarito probably will be reinstated if he applies in a year. That means he’ll miss only one payday because he fights only twice a year, which he has done each of the past eight years.

That’s a lot of money, particularly when you consider that a lucrative rematch with Miguel Cotto was on the horizon, but Margarito is a rich guy. He’ll survive.

He could fight in Mexico or another country that doesn’t honor such rulings but could jeopardize his reinstatement if he does so. It could be perceived as thumbing his nose at California and other states that do honor the ruling.

Instead, it might be wise for him to miss one fight and then return to action in March or April of 2010.

Yes, he would be gambling that California will reinstate him. That’s a legitimate concern. However, his handlers probably can feel out commissioners on where they stand on possible reinstatement next year.

I probably would’ve imposed a stiff fine against Margarito, something that would sting but not be quite as crippling as revoking his license. He would’ve gotten the message and adhere more rigidly to the rules.

However, it seems obvious that the commission wanted to make a strong statement that they’re serious about fighter safety. And it’s difficult to fault them for that knowing that fighter safety supersedes everything else.

In light of Capetillo and Margarito’s fate, fighters and trainers know there will be a price to pay if they endanger their opponents in any illegal way in California.

Michael Rosenthal's column appears Wednesdays. He can be reached at [email protected]