Margarito's Boxing License Revoked

February 11, 2009

Former welterweight title holder Antonio Margarito and his trainer Javier Capetillo both had their licenses revoked on Tuesday by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). The punishment was due to illegal tampering with the fighter's hand wraps before his January 24 welterweight title bout with Shane Mosley in Los Angeles. The ban came after the CSAC reviewed the pertinent evidence and concluded that both Capetillo and Margarito had violated CSAC Rule 323, which places limits on the amount and type of gauze and tape allowed under a fighter's boxing glove. CSAC then acted in accordance with Rule 390 which grants the commission the ability to discipline a licensee when their actions are deemed to “discredit boxing” or violate the rules of CSAC.

Margarito's license to box and Capetillo's license to train had been temporarily suspended by the CSAC on January 28, pending further examination of the confiscated wraps. The hearing ended with the seven-member board voting unanimously that Capetillo and Margarito had violated California statutes regulating the safe and legal use of hand wraps before a professional boxing match.

With the decision, Margarito and Capetillo will be barred from participating in boxing in the State of California for one year. Both fighter and trainer will be able to apply for license reinstatement in one year, but until then they are effectively prohibited from any participation in the sport of boxing in the United States, as all other state governing bodies and respective jurisdictions are all but guaranteed to uphold and recognize the CSAC's ruling.

Before the fight with Mosley, which Margarito lost via a ninth-round TKO, Mosley's trainer Nazim Richardson brought the questionable hand wraps that Capetillo had used on his fighter to the attention of the commission inspectors. The inspectors then confiscated what was later described as "suspect bandage wrap inside a knuckle pad" that had become "sweat-soaked and harder in certain areas than normal wraps."

The commission's decision was met with outrage by Margarito's promoter Bob Arum, who said afterwards that the commission’s ruling was “not going to hold up.” A visibly dismayed Arum continued his critique of the decision, calling it “the most bizarre thing I’ve ever experienced.”

Arum’s complaints continued, as he wondered aloud to the gathered media horde, “How you can revoke somebody’s license when they didn’t do anything wrong or attempt to do anything wrong? Capetillo admitted that he made an inadvertent mistake and said Tony knew nothing about it,” Arum explained. He then lamented that Margarito was “a nice guy, and deserves better than this,” before making it clear that he, along with Capetillo's defense attorney Daniel Petrocelli, would likely be planning to appeal the ruling.

Arum also stated he would consider taking his fighter to other countries, such as Mexico, where he was still cleared to fight.

Capetillo claimed to have only made “a big mistake,” and said that he was prepared to take “full responsibility” for committing “this innocent mistake.” Capetillo’s stated that while wrapping Margarito's hands he had reached into his equipment bag and accidentally grabbed another fighter's previously used set of wraps. This story was met with skepticism by the commission.

Margarito for his part has claimed ignorance, stating that he had merely “held up his hands to be wrapped,” and had no prior knowledge of the presence of an illegal substance under his wraps.

However, Margarito is a fourteen-year pro fighter and Capetillo is a veteran trainer who had just recently finally completed a long and arduous ascension to a world championship. Now, suddenly in their first title defense improprieties are discovered. One has to wonder just how long this kind of illegal activity had really been occurring.

Needless to say, this entire unfortunate incident has at the very least cast a legitimate shadow of doubt over some of the recent big wins of Margarito's career. Perhaps even more damaging, it has done a disservice to the sport of boxing as a whole. It is disheartening that a champion in one of boxing's most talent-filled and glamorous divisions was found to be involved in such shady and dishonest behavior.

If the shameful allegations are indeed factual, and it is indeed true that both Capetillo and Margarito knowingly conspired to place a foreign and illegal hardening substance beneath the protective hand wraps, then a lifetime ban, and perhaps even criminal charges, are in order.

Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

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