Monday, May 29, 2023  |



Arum’s defense of Margarito honorable but ludicrous

Fighters Network

On one level, Bob Arum's belligerent defense of Antonio Margarito in the aftermath of the California Athletic Commission's one-year revocation of Margarito's license was honorable.

In a business in which loyalty is found about as often as are advanced degrees in botany or microbiology, one would have been forgiven for expecting Arum to more or less kick Margarito to the curb following Margarito's loss to Shane Mosley.

Don King isn't the only promoter to have stepped over the prone carcass of his former fighter on his way to congratulating his new one. That's how this business works. No one apologizes for it.

Even higher-profile fighters who get run over like Margarito did soon enough find themselves, if not suddenly washing dishes at Red Lobster, then getting buried on poorly attended under cards.

So like Tammy Wynette, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Theresa Tapia, Arum is standing by his man. Good for him, even if his loyalty is borne primarily of Margarito's popularity among the Mexican fight fans who comprise most of Arum's base.

On the other hand, it's hard to find examples of a promoter being as disingenuous and conniving as Arum has been in making his case against the California commission's ruling.

You might have to go all the way back to the night King tried to convince us all we'd been hallucinating when we saw Buster Douglas knock the bejesus out of Mike Tyson in Tokyo.

Arum's formal statement was bad enough. In it he likened the situation to the melee that occurred during the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Zab Judah fight in 2006.

“When Roger Mayweather, trainer for Floyd Mayweather, entered the ring improperly during the Mayweather vs. Judah fight, Roger was punished but the Nevada commission quite properly never suggested that Floyd be punished.”

Obviously, Arum's position is the mostly indefensible one that Margarito's trainer, Javier Capetillo, loaded Margarito's handwraps, Margarito knew nothing about it and therefore shouldn't be held liable for it.

This defense might work if Margarito were out of the room at the time his hands were being wrapped, or was otherwise disengaged from his arms. Failing that, a good case of temporary blindness might hold some sway.

Otherwise, no dice.

On a clip that aired on ESPN2 during Friday Night Fights last week, Arum ranted almost incoherently that his company, Top Rank, would never promote another card in California and that Margarito would not have been so severely penalized if he were not Mexican.

This is utter nonsense. Arum knows as well as anyone that Margarito was a big draw among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in California and that in revoking his license, the commission effectively watched millions of dollars go out the door.

It would have been far easier for them (and better from an economic standpoint) to revoke Capetillo's license and hold Margarito harmless, just as Arum wanted. By holding Margarito responsible they sent exactly the right message to fighters and their trainers and promoters.

This business is dangerous enough without guys loading their gloves and if Margarito didn't know what his trainer was doing, he should have.

By taking Margarito to Mexico to fight – where, bless their fight-loving hearts, they'd pay to see Julio Cesar Chavez fight a goat and bet on the outcome at ringside – Arum is thumbing his nose at one of the very few genuine things any commission has done in the name of fighter safety.

None of us should forget that it wasn't the commissioner that spotted the illegal wraps, but Naazim Richardson. But there's no reason that failing had to be compounded by a weak, wishy-washy ruling. Arum knows that better than anyone.

And if the situation were reversed – if one of Arum's guys went in against a guy whose gloves were found to be loaded – Arum would be screaming for his deportation.

My, this business is fun. What characters.

Some miscellaneous observations from last week:

You have to think Kermit Cintron is happy any time he looks across the ring and sees a fighter other than Margarito staring back at him. Still, I thought he clearly lost to Sergio Martinez, who is the best fighter I've ever seen with a $400 haircut and spray-on tan.

So Nate Campbell becomes fighter number 3,116 to suffer a career setback immediately after severing ties with King. Now I know why The Don wears his hair straight up like that: to hide the horns.

The surprise isn't that Johnny Tapia has been arrested on a probation violation related to felony drug charges. The surprise is that Theresa hasn't put a pillow over his face and smothered him in his sleep. Yet.

Whether or not he knows it, Alfredo Angulo, who is starting to remind me a little of Pipino Cuevas, is ensuring that assisted living facilities up and down the West Coast will have plenty of clients a decade or two down the road. Kudos, Alfredo.

So Sam Peter is fighting Eddie Chambers. Big Deal. Peter could knock Chambers' spleen into the fifth row and it would not come close to erasing the memory of Peter's pitiable performance against Vitali Klitschko. Nothing could.

Started working last week with a guy named Tushar. Takes everything I've got to keep from calling him Tushar Johnson. I'm not proud of it.

For the second week in a row Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore went strangely mute whenever the “opponent” landed punches on the “prospect”. Yes, Yathomas Riley clearly beat Julius Jackson, but when Jackson got work done, which he did occasionally, he deserved to have it acknowledged.

Anyone else sick of these commercials that try to sell the idea that poker players are brave and daring like fighters are? Um, the principal activity in a poker game is sitting. If you work up a sweat while sitting, you might want to think about limiting your bacon intake.

William Dettloff can be reached at [email protected]