By Radio Rahim
If the punishment was up to Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, former world champion Antonio Margarito would have been serving a prison sentence for attempted murder.
Roach, who trains former four division world champion Miguel Cotto, believes the Mexican slugger had illegally loaded his gloves in July of 2008 - when Margarito beat down and stopped Cotto in the eleventh round of their welterweight title fight.
While it was never proven that Margarito had done anything illegal in Cotto fight, the suspicions will always be there because of the highly publicized incident on January 24, 2009 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
On that night, Margarito was scheduled to fight Shane Mosley in an HBO televised main event. About an hour before the fight, controversy erupted when Mosley's trainer, Naazim Richardson, observed that Margarito had a pasty white substance in his hand wraps.
California State Inspector Dean Lohuis called for Margarito's hands to be rewrapped. Once the old wraps were cut, they discovered wet pads that were hidden inside. The California Department of Justice laboratory later confirmed the substance found on those wet wraps was similar in nature to plaster of Paris.
The fight with Mosley still went forward, and Margarito was battered and stopped for the first time in his career.
After a hearing before the California State Athletic Commission, Margarito and his trainer Javier Capetillo had their licenses revoked for a period of at least one year. Capetillo accepted the blame, claiming that he mistakenly placed the wrong pads in Margarito's wraps without the boxer's knowledge.
In November 2009, it was revealed that red stains on the hand wraps Margarito used in the Cotto fight were similar to the stains on the inserts seized before the Mosley fight - which added more fuel to the fire when it came to the suspicions that Margarito loaded his gloves for the fight with Cotto and several others.
In 2010, Margarito reclaimed his boxing license. Cotto did get revenge, stopping Margarito in the tenth round of their rematch on December 3, 2011 in New York's Madison Square Garden.
In the opinion of Roach, the California Commission was very lenient with Margarito by only handing him a one year suspension. He says Margarito should have been criminally prosecuted and jailed for several years. Boxer Luis Resto was criminally prosecuted for a similar incident which took place in 1983 with Billy Collins. He served 2.5 years in prison.
“It’s just an issue that I think honestly [Margarito] should be in jail for attempted murder. I mean it was like the penalty [of a one year suspension] wasn’t enough for me at least. But the thing is, I saw Miguel come back from that, and it was a great comeback. He gets stronger and stronger everyday in the gym," Roach said.
"Back when we first started [a few years] after that [Margarito] fight, we did have days that were maybe bad days and after a while with positive thinking and positive people around him he told me that’s all gone now and I’m glad to see that. He’s working great every day.”