Even though Shane Mosley punched him around the ring from post to pillar and eventually knocked him out in the ninth round, Antonio Margarito should consider January 24, 2009 to be the luckiest day of his life.
It was on this day that Margarito was caught cheating just before the fight with Mosley got underway at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
Mosley’s trainer Naazim Richardson noticed something odd about Margarito’s hand wraps while inspecting them and the Mexican boxer was forced to undo them and have them re-wrapped by his coach Javier Capetillo. However, upon closer inspection, it was discovered the wraps contained a plaster-of-Paris type substance, which would basically harden during the fight.
Margarito’s hands were wrapped again and he suffered his worst night in boxing as Mosley dominated him for nine rounds before brutally finishing him off. But Margarito should thank his lucky stars the illegal wraps were detected when they were because who knows what might have happened had they hardened like they were supposed to. Mosley could have been seriously hurt or even worse if Margarito connected on him all night long with rock-hard gloves.
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The news spread quickly throughout the sporting world and Margarito’s past was brought into question. Many boxing experts wondered aloud if Margarito and his corner had tampered with his hand wraps in previous bouts, especially his July 26, 2008 contest against Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas. Cotto entered the ring with a 32-0 record and while Margarito beating Cotto didn’t shock many experts, the manner in which it happened did.
Cotto’s face was a bloody mess after the fight was stopped in the 11th round and was distorted by lumps and bruises. It brought back terrible memories of the most infamous glove-tampering fight in history when Jr. middleweight Luis Resto brutally beat Billy Collins Jr. on June 16, 1983 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
After the fight, which Resto won by a 10-round unanimous decision, he went to shake hands with Collins and his opponent’s father. Collins’ Sr. knew right away that Resto’s gloves had been tampered with. It turned out that Resto and his trainer Panama Lewis had cut some of the padding out of the gloves and had also wrapped his hands in a plaster-of-Paris type substance.
All hell broke loose soon after and the fight was changed to a no-decision. But that was far from the end of the story. Collins’ career was basically over due to an eye injury suffered in the fight and he was found dead nine months later after he crashed his car. Most people believed the 22-year-old committed suicide.
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Resto and Lewis were banned from boxing for life in America, and they were both was convicted of assault, criminal possession of a deadly weapon, and conspiracy in 1986. Lewis was also found guilty of tampering with a sports contest and was sentenced to six years in prison, serving three of them while Resto served two and a half years of a three-year sentence. Resto said his gloves had been altered before on two other occasions, but never saw Lewis do it. Lewis claimed corner man Artie Curley was in charge of wrapping Resto’s hands.
As for Lewis, if he was caught cheating in a fight between two journeymen on an undercard, who’s to know what might have possibly gone on before that during multi-million dollar fights in which world titles were on the line. There has long been a suspicion he was involved in some unsavory business when he worked the corner of Aaron Pryor in Nov. 1982 when he stopped Alexis Arguello in the 14th round.
Lewis could clearly be heard on camera between rounds asking for the special bottle he made up for Pryor. Resto reportedly claimed Lewis would often grind antihistamine tablets that were used for asthma into a water bottle, which would give his boxer greater lung capacity for the late rounds of fights.
Considering the Resto-Collins incident, Margarito and Capetillo should consider themselves lucky that Mosley’s trainer found out about the tampered hand wraps before the fight with Mosley and not after it. They were only sentenced with a year-long ban from boxing in California; while Resto, Collins, and Lewis all saw their lives change drastically.
Margarito will enter the ring again on Nov. 13 in Dallas, Texas when he takes on Manny Pacquiao for the WBC Super Welterweight title. Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 Kos) is favored at Bet19 with odds -575 of while Margarito’s (38-6, 26 Kos) odds are +375.
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