Miguel Cotto won’t fight Antonio Margarito in Mexico

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The California State Athletic Commission’s unanimous decisions to revoke the licenses of boxer Antonio Margarito and his trainer Javier Capetillo could also prove costly to another former welterweight champion.

And Miguel Cotto appears fine with that.

The Puerto Rican fighter, whose only loss in 33 pro bouts came against Margarito last July, was working toward a multimillion-dollar rematch with the Mexican boxer this June. But those plans were derailed by the commission’s decision to punish Margarito for having an illegal plaster-like substance confiscated from his hand wraps before last month’s unsuccessful title defense against Shane Mosley.

Unless that vote is overturned on appeal, Margarito won’t be able to fight in the U.S. for at least a year. And while his promoter, Bob Arum, has said that he’ll take the boxer back to his native Mexico to fight, Cotto said today that he’ll have no part in that.

‘I think that would be a lack of consideration, a lack of respect for the commission,’ Cotto, who is also promoted by Arum, said in Spanish during a conference call with the media. ‘If you have broken a law and you go somewhere else, it’s not just. You have to pay for the infraction.

‘If Margarito and his team [did] those kinds of things, they have to pay for them.’


Arum said that, while he respects Cotto’s opinion, he hasn’t changed his mind regarding Margarito’s immediate future -- or a possible rematch with Cotto, who must first get by Briton Michael Jennings (34-1) in a welterweight title fight at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 21.

‘He’ll decide those issues when the time comes,’ Arum said of Cotto.

‘Miguel is certainly entitled to his opinion,’ he added. ‘As far as I’m concerned, California revoked [Margarito’s] license and he has to make a living and he has the right to fight anyplace that will license him. And Mexico has indicated ... that they will provide him with a license. I am his promoter, and I will do the best that I can for him.’

But there may be more that just a revoked license preventing a Margarito-Cotto rematch -- especially one that figures to provide Margarito with a much-needed mega paycheck as well.

Since the discovery of illegal material in Margarito’s gloves before his ninth-round loss to Mosley, there has been speculation Margarito may also have had something in his gloves when he dismantled the previously unbeaten -- and heavily favored -- Cotto.

During Tuesday’s hearing before the state commission, Karen Chappelle, supervising deputy attorney general, attempted to present into evidence a photo from July’s Cotto-Margarito fight that, she suggested, showed similarities between the wraps Margarito tried to use against Mosley and the ones he had on his hands after his 11th-round TKO victory over Cotto.

Admission of that photo was disallowed as irrelevant, and discussion of them was ordered stricken from the record.

Cotto also refused to say whether he thought his opponent cheated to beat him but a copy of the photo, reviewed by The Times today, shows a discoloration on the knuckles of Margarito’s taped hands that looks similar to what was on the material seized from Margarito’s dressing room hours before the Mosley fight.

‘That’s for the fans, that line of questioning,’ Cotto said. ‘The only people who can answer that question are Margarito and his group. I don’t want to think about that. In that fight Margarito had a great performance. I’ll leave it at that.’

‘The thing that happened with Margarito last July,’ he said earlier, ‘that’s in my past.’

But Cotto dismissed Margarito’s testimony before the commission, in which he said he wasn’t aware Capetillo had placed anything illegal in his hand wraps.

‘We, the boxers, know what’s put in our hands,’ he said. ‘We know what’s contained in the wraps. Margarito had to know if his wraps had something illegal or not.’

And that, Cotto said, has left boxing to deal with another black eye.

‘We’re here to demonstrate to the world what we can do with our athletic ability and our physical condition,’ he said. ‘It’s a sport. You have to keep in consideration that you’re fighting with a human being. You have to respect [that.]’

-- Kevin Baxter

Photo (left): Antonio Margarito. Credit: Reed Saxon / Associated Press

Photo (right): Miguel Cotto. Credit: Seth Wenig / Associated Press