Fights loom for Margarito if reinstated
Former welterweight titleholder Antonio Margarito, who was barred from boxing in the United States after having his license revoked in California last year for his role in a hand-wrapping scandal, will seek a license from the Nevada State Athletic Commission on Friday.
Margarito's request for a license is the 32nd and final item on the commission agenda for the regularly scheduled meeting.
"We have him on last because that will be the longest part of the meeting," commission executive director Keith Kizer told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
According to Kizer, Margarito filed the paperwork for a license June 18 when Dan Pancheri, the lawyer for Las Vegas-based promoter Top Rank, dropped off Margarito's application, an updated medical report and a 5½-page explanation from Margarito explaining his side of things about what happened in California.
"He's going to have to answer some tough question here," Kizer said. "He has to be here in person. It's a heavy burden for him to satisfy, but it's his burden to meet. He'll have to explain anything the commissioners want to ask him about. I assume the commissioners will ask him a lot of questions. Some may be easy, some may be hard, but the burden is solely his."
Margarito was widely regarded as the No. 1 welterweight in the world when he faced Shane Mosley on Jan. 24, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Mosley dominated Margarito and knocked him out in the ninth round in an upset to claim the title.
However, in the minutes before the fight, drama had unfolded in Margarito's dressing room. It was there that Mosley trainer Naazim Richardson objected to the way Margarito's left hand had been wrapped.
California officials eventually cut off the wrap to check it and discovered an illegal pad coated in a plaster-like substance, which had obviously escaped the notice of the commission inspector who oversaw the wrapping procedure. When the wrap on Margarito's right hand was also cut off for examination, an identical illegal pad was also discovered.
Margarito's hands we re-wrapped and he went on to lose the fight. Three weeks later, Margarito's claim of ignorance at a hearing was rejected by the California State Athletic Commission and he had his license revoked in a 7-0 vote, as did trainer Javier Capetillo.
The revocation effectively banned them from boxing in the United States for at least a year, after which time they were eligible to reapply to any commission in the nation.
During the layoff, Margarito cut ties with Capetillo. Top Rank attempted to get Margarito licensed in Texas so he could box on the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey undercard at Cowboys Stadium in March, but didn't follow through because of the red tape involved and the short time frame.
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Instead, Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) returned on May 8 in his native Mexico, where he was licensed with a rubber stamp, and outpointed Roberto Garcia in a junior middleweight bout.
Now, Margarito, 32, is seeking a license in the United States, where the biggest money fights loom. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said he could face Miguel Cotto in a rematch of their epic 2008 welterweight title fight, in which Margarito stopped Cotto in the 11th round, or Manny Pacquiao in the event a fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not finalized.
"I really believe he should get his license in Nevada," Arum said. "He and his attorney will present the reasons and the Nevada commission will decide. We went to Nevada because that's where we are planning for him to fight. If it's not against Pacquiao in November, it would be against Cotto in December.
"I'm optimistic the Nevada commission will do the right thing, but I haven't talked to anyone on the commission, not one person, and neither has [Top Rank president] Todd [duBoef]." Arum said they are approaching the Nevada commission now so they don't have to rush like they had in Texas earlier this year.
"If Floyd elects not to step up to the plate and fight Pacquiao and Pacquiao elects to fight Margarito, if that happens, we need to make sure Margarito has a license," Arum said. "You can't go to Pacquiao and see if he will fight Margarito if the guy doesn't even have a license. So we are doing this now instead of rushing around at the last minute."
The five commissioners will question Margarito about whatever they want, Kizer said.
"This is not that different from other situations where people had things in their past that the commission wanted to ask them about before deciding about a license," Kizer said. "We did it with people like Mike Tyson, Zab Judah and Roger Mayweather, who had all been disciplined in Nevada. Margarito's situation was in California, but we have the same rules as they do. Margarito was revoked, and after a year you are free to apply anywhere. He sat out for [more than] a year, and now he can reapply."
As executive director, Kizer could have granted a license to Margarito on his own, but because of the high-profile nature of the scandal, he said he wanted the matter to go before the commission.
"They have full discretion and jurisdiction," he said. "I know there will be a lot of people on both sides. If they do grant him a license, there will be a lot of people yelling, 'They're crazy for giving him a license.' And if they don't, there will be a lot of people yelling, 'They're crazy for not giving him a license.' They'll be criticized either way, so they don't have to worry about it. The five commissioners will listen to what he has to say and make the decision."
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.