Sometimes you don’t care what the reason really might be. You’re just glad someone in boxing did the right thing.
The sudden decision by Top Rank to pull the plug on its effort to put disgraced former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey fight March 13 in Dallas smells of a wink-and-a-nod arrangement by which Dickie Cole, head of the Texas Commission, made clear to Arum they were not going to grant Margarito his license back until he squares things with the California Commission that revoked it a year ago after finding an illegal knuckle pad coated with a plaster-like substance hidden under his hand wraps the night of his fight with Shane Mosley.
Technically, Margarito was within his rights to apply for a license in Texas and he did so. The Association of Boxing Commissions made clear to Cole that the state of Texas could license him if it saw fit but urged them not to, because normally a fighter who has had his license revoked for illegal activities returns to that jurisdiction to seek a new license before he fights elsewhere even though he is not compelled to.
Though it is not a requirement considering the dirty circumstances surrounding Margarito’s actions that night it would seem to be the least he could do to try and right a despicable wrong in which he was far from an innocent, although probably not the ringleader.
Margarito served his year-long suspension, choosing not to make good on a threat to fight in Mexico in the interim. Had he done so in the face of California’s revocation of his license to fight in that state, a revocation honored by all other U.S. commissions although not enforceable outside the country, regaining his license to fight anywhere in the United States would have been unlikely. He did not fight however, and so the issue becomes dicey and usually when that happens expediency wins out.
In this case, for whatever reason, it did not and Cole, whose Commission has been criticized in this corner many times and deservedly so, earns a hosanna this time for doing the right thing. He and the state of Texas had an out but chose not to use it and so Margarito’s exile from boxing continues.
The wise choice now for him and for Arum would be to get their egos in check, button their lips for once and go back to California to seek a hearing and a new license there first. That is where Margarito did the crime and since the night he was caught neither he nor Arum has shown one ounce of remorse over the situation. Remorse is long overdue in this case.
It is unlikely Arum had any knowledge of what was going on in Margarito’s locker room that night and bears no responsibility for it. His sins were committed after the fact when he acted after the revocation as if Margarito was the victim. He was not a victim. He, along with trainer Javier Capetillo, were the perpetrators.
Please spare me the notion Arum tried to foist on the public that the poor fighter had no idea a moist knuckle pad under his wraps was out of line. Enough with that nonsense already. If someone corks your bat you know it. Same is true if someone cements your fists.
Most of us are adults here so let’s act like it. If Arum wants to get Margarito (37-6, 27 KO) back in the ring in the United States then take him to California and have him stand in front of a re-licensing hearing with an explanation better than the boxing equivalent of “the dog ate my homework.’’ If he has no explanation than at least apologize. Show some humanity in this often inhumane sport.
The ABC’s letter to Cole urged him not to license Margarito even though legally he could have. Although the Texas commission has made no public comment on what it might do, the fact is Arum has pulled the fighter off the card and the commission has yet to act on Margarito’s application. Those being the facts, it seems reasonable to conclude Cole decided this was a headache his Commission didn’t need and made that clear to Arum, who for one of the few times in his life has been silent on the matter.
Top Rank has suggested it now might put Margarito on a May 8 pay-per-view card in Mexico even though at this time his license to fight in California remains revoked because he has made no effort to have that revocation lifted. If Top Rank goes forward with that idea it will argue the fighter served his one year suspension and has a right to fight again.
What he actually has the right to do is re-apply for a boxing license. There is no “right’’ to fight. So go back to California and exercise your rights and see what happens.
To do anything else is to ask for trouble. One would think Antonio Margarito would understand by now he’s already created enough of that for himself already.
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