Bob Arum, the Brooklyn-born promoter who worked in JFK's Justice Department before breaking his parents' heart and jumping ship to the the boxing biz, was in town on Tuesday to hype two NYC shows. The bigger one takes place on Dec. 3, at MSG. That card is headlined by Miguel Cotto versus Antonio Margarito, in a rematch of their 2008 thriller. That scrap had the look of a "Saw" sequel. Cotto was leaking blood copiously by the third round, and by the seventh, he was in a bad state.
Margarito, who looked like a Terminator of pugilism as he shook off Cotto launches and plowed forward with scary malevolence, ended the affair in Round 11. Cotto took a knee twice to stop the Mexican's bomb-dropping, and the ref pulled the plug as Cotto's corner moved to do the same. Fight fans looked at Margarito as a certified badass at that point, but their estimation shifted radically when he was found to be trying to use hardened hand wraps when he met Shane Mosley in his next bout, six months later. He was suspended for more than a year, and to this day, many if not most boxing fans assume -- fairly or unfairly -- that he'd cheated before.
They note that he is 1-2 since the Cotto victory, having been schooled by Mosley (TKO9 loss), beating lesser light Roberto Garcia in his comeback bout (UD10), and getting pummeled by Manny Pacquiao in his last outing, on Nov. 13, 2010.
There is no evidence that Margarito had ever used implements to get an extra, illegal edge before, and he says his ex-trainer inserted the pads, and he didn't notice they were not kosher. His promoter, Arum, concurs.
I admit, Arum's stance holds sway with me as I ponder the issue. You see, Arum promotes Margarito and Cotto. If he were working from a purely political place, one would think he'd take pains to not take sides. You'd think that he'd defer on making a judgement on whether or not Margarito is a serial cheater, or if, indeed, the boxer was involved in a single incidence for which he deserves no blame, because it was his trainer who messed up.
But no, Arum defended Margarito to the hilt once he sifted through all the evidence. We will post some video in a bit in which Arum explains why he thinks Margarito is no villain. My stance has shifted, I admit, from being one who finds it hard to fathom that Margarito hadn't used illegal aids in the past, to one who admits that he doesn't know. A good deal of that is because of Arum's behavior on this matter. Because bottom line, it seems like his stance makes his dealings with Cotto more difficult. Mostly reading in between the lines, I sense that over the last couple years, Cotto has been less-than-thrilled that his promoter essentially chose Margarito over him.
What do you think?