Acclaimed trainer Freddie Roach is on the record. If the California commission finds that Antonio Margarito did indeed use illegal hand wraps, and that he did so with the intention of gaining an unfair advantage against Shane Mosley on Jan. 24 in California, Roach says that the Mexican hitter and his trainer Javier Capetillo, who oversaw the hand wrapping, should be banned from the sport for life.
Roach offered his preferred sentence during an interview with Brian Kenny, on Kenny’s new ESPN radio show, and the statement was replayed on ESPN’s Friday Night fights. Roach said that he’d come across “loaded” hand wraps when his man Manny Pacquiao fought Marco Antonio Barrera the first time in 2003, in Texas. Roach said he saw Barrera’s hands wrapped with material used to form a cast, which looks like regulation gauze, but becomes rock-hard when wetted. Roach was able to get the Barrera people to junk the material he says was suspect.

Kenny asked Roach what the penalty should be if Margarito and his trainer used casting material for hand wraps. “They should be banned from boxing for life,” he said. “Just like Luis Resto and Panama Lewis. And maybe do some time because it’s a serious charge.” Roach also said that a boxer from his gym suffered a broken orbital bone during sparring with Margarito, and was told that Margarito uses tainted wraps in training also, “to protect his hands.”

Serious charges from Roach, whose reputation in the game is darn near flawless. Margarito will state his case on the matter, with his trainer, to the Ca. commission on Feb. 10. One would expect that lawyers, representing any number of fighters, will be following this hearing and further developments closely. Because if Margarito did use casting material, and this wasn’t an isolated incident, boxers who has beaten, and knocked out, could possibly lodge a civil complaint against him, arguing that their livelihood was compromised by his illegal behavior. That is speculation at this point, of course.

The show featured bouts taking place at  the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury, Maryland.
Yusuf Mack (27-2) of Philly took a split decision win over Chris Henry (23-2), by scores of 116-112, 115-112,  113-115 in the headline beef. The light heavyweight scrap showcased two hitters who have just enough holes to keep them from the 175 pound penthouse. Mack had the quicker hands while Henry had the heavier ones, early on. Mack’s D is pretty sharp, and he stayed clear of Henry’s bombs through four. Mack often fired first, and his tosses were more accurate. His jab kept Henry off him, and when Henry got close, he slipped well. Teddy Atlas had it a Mack shutout through the fourth. Henry has a tendency to load up, and foes can see that coming.

Mack’s right hurt Henry in the sixth, and a KO was threatened. But he hung around. In the ninth, Mack, who has more energy at 175 than he did at a depleted 168, heard it from ref Kenny Chevalier. “You’re getting lazy,” he yelled at the two fighters. Atlas smartly pointed out that both men are hampered by a reliance on right hands. Neither follows up with a hook to close out a combo often enough. Henry had more bounce and pep in the 7th, 8th, and 9th. In the 12th, Mack landed a fierce right, and Henry buckled. But Henry collected himself, and had Mack holding on. We’d go to the cards. Mack edged Henry 115-113 on Teddy’s card.

Gabriel Rosado got out to a solid start, with his straight-punching style paying dividends against  Fernando Guerrero, the hometown fave, in a middleweight tussle. Guerrero was sent to the mat in the third, but the lefty got his wits, and got down to business. He assaulted Rosado’s right eye with his straight left, and his hand speed was at another level than the New Yorkers’. After some early moments of worry, Guerrero left with his undefeated record intact. He is 13-0, while Rosado drops to 10-3. The crowd was beyond amped for this one, by the way.  Guerrero’s promoter is doing a superb job spreading the word on the kid, who was born in the DR.

SPEEDBAG Not sure why this is happening, but FNF’s lineup this year is shaping up to be, far and away, the best ever. To my knowledge, the network didn’t sweeten the pot, and still pays a fairly modest per show stipend to promoters. But it looks like Samuel Peter is going to meet Eddie Chambers March 27 on ESPN, and that, my friends, would not have been a match we would’ve seen on FNF in the past. A theory—this sort of match is a result of the economy. There is less money and fewer gigs to go round now. So, in order to make a statement, guys are taking fights they would have blown off, or held out for more money. Basically, the economy is spurring necessity, the mother of invention. It is necessary for guys to make money, even if the payday is somewhat weak, because after all, any payday beats no payday at all. This economy will actually be a stimulus in some regards, because it forces people to work harder, and come up with innovations, because the pressure to stay afloat is on, big time.

—Riddick Bowe was in the house. He sat behind Atlas and Tess. He was not interviewed. Would have liked to see how Teddy handled that.

—New BWAA president Jack Hirsch got a shoutout from Atlas. Teddy said the BWAA is important, as a watchdog entity, because the sport lacks a central governing body to oversee and maintain standards.

—Atlas admitted that he is up to date technologically, in that he now can receive text messages. He says he relies on his kids to answer them, though.


Andre Ward is hot on the case for a title shot by the end of 2009. On ShoBox, Ward got some rounds in against overmatched Henry Buchanan, who was in sparring partner mode, at the Tachi Casino in Lemoore, CA. , and earned a UD 12 (120-108 x 3).
Ward (age 24; 166.2; 18-0; from California; 2004 Olympic gold medalist; owner of NABO super middle crown) had knee surgery last August after hurting himself playing hoops, but he looks to be 100%. Buchanan (age 30; 167.6 pounds; 17-2; from Maryland) has the strangest nickname in the game, “Sugar Poo.”

Ward came out aggressive from minute one. Poo backed up, and looked out of his depth, and he ate some snappy jabs in the first. Same thing in the second. Ward went lefty some, and used it to his benefit, rather than just doing it in gimmicky fashion. It was clear from the second round on that Poo wasn’t in it to really win it. His jab was timid, and he just covered up, hoping to stick around and last the duration. This was his second ShoBox appearance and I’m guessing, his last. Ward wasn’t cut, his knee held up, and he got the nod, bottom line. As a viewer, this wasn’t one for the ages. Mostly, that’s Poo’s fault.

Californian John Molina went to 15-0, as he sent Josh Allatey down with a left hook to the body in the third. Allatey (16-7) said it was a low blow. It wasn’t. The Ghanian Allatey, who was trying to pull a con, took a couple minutes to gather himself, and promptly got dropped and stopped at 1:28 of the third. Older fight fans know John’s dad, John John, who was a super feather standout, and battled professionally from 1986-2001.

—Friend Tommy Gorman points out that heavyweight Kirk Johnson is having another go at it. He fights 11-36 Danny Sheehan in Virginia tonight. People gotta do what people gotta do, I guess. I don’t know the Massachusetts resident Sheehan but I hope he has regular brain scans and his speech pattern hasn’t been affected by the years of abuse he’s taken as a game opponent imported as a record builder. Anyone out there reading know Sheehan, and can hopefully inform us that his faculties have not been diminished in his 12 years as a pro?