Antonio Margarito’s Manager, Miguel Cotto, Paul Williams, Shane Mosley All Discuss Those Hand Wraps

(Cynthia Plaster Caster, from her MySpace page)

We’ve got some more people jumping into the news about Antonio Margarito’s allegedly illegal hand wraps from this weekend’s welterweight (147 lbs.) loss to Shane Mosley: another member of his management team (there was no plaster!) and three past opponents (feeling a little shy).

First up is Francisco Espinoza, co-manager of Margarito, who says Margarito’s still looking to a June rematch with Miguel Cotto.

Espinoza says that nobody on Margarito’s team did anything illegal and everything will be cleared up when the California commission is done with their investigation.

“We did not do anything illegal. What happened was that (trainer Javier) Capetillo prepared the gauzes that are used, two weeks before [the fight] and had them in a lump with cloth that apparently was humid and therefore hardened,” Espinoza said. “There was no substance like that there [the plaster]. The commission asked us to bandage his hands again and we did.”

This is now the third person from Margarito’s camp to offer an explanation, and the explanations all sound to me like they are different. Another Margarito manager, Sergio Diaz, said he merely had one hand “wrapped too high.” And an official with Top Rank, and I’m quoting  a news story that paraphrased him, said “he was told the wrap was simply gauze that was balled up by the knuckles.” Now we have humid gauze.

It doesn’t look great to have three stories. Espinoza’s story is the first that goes to the reported comments of California commission officials and the Mosley team; the other two seem to reject their story entirely, but this only rejects the remarks that point to anything like plaster. And I tell you what — I don’t know how long the California commission investigation is going to take, but some time Tuesday, for the purposes of an experiment, I’m going to buy some gauze, get it wet, and see if it hardens in two weeks. I can’t say I’ve kept gauze damp for two weeks, but I’m skeptical that it would harden on its own like that.

Next up is Shane Mosley himself — I didn’t touch on his press conference quotes yesterday, so let’s catch up to them:

“I was aware of it but I didn’t let it bother me one way or another. I don’t think that Margarito was trying to do something illegal. My trainer did his job and caught him and he had to wrap his hands the same way I wrapped mine. He probably wanted extra protection for his hands.”

I think Shane, ever the gentleman, is just playing nice here. Everyone around him, from his doctor to his trainer to his lawyer to his promoter, has been a little more assertive, with his trainer saying most recently that whatever happened was “deliberate,” whether Margarito or someone else was responsible, and that the gauze even had “an old dried up blood stain” on it, for some reason.

But let’s look at the best case scenario for Margarito, for a second, since Mosley is so willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Trainer Nazim Richardson (or Naazim or Nazzim or Nasim, I can’t find a definitive spelling anywhere) was part of the team that raised a kerfuffle on behalf of Bernard Hopkins over Felix Trinidad’s hand wraps. I’ve searched, and I’ve turned up no articles that suggested Trinidad was found guilty of any kind of illicit behavior, short of having to rewrap his hands. Now, there’s a big difference between the allegations about Trinidad’s extra gauze and tape and a piece of plaster or two, as is alleged for Margarito. But once again, I must remind everyone that Magarito’s been found guilty by no one thus far.

Next up is Miguel Cotto:

Evangelista Cotto, uncle and trainer of Miguel, said he didn’t notice anything unusual during the fight.

“At that time we were not aware of anything,” said Evangelista.

Miguel was happy with the way the CSAC handled the situation and he plans to keep a close eye on the investigation into the substance in Margarito’s gloves. He praised Mosley’s trainer, Nazim Richardson, who saw something strange in the shape of Margarito’s wraps and made a commission member take off the wraps.

“He did the right thing. They saw something unusual in the process and ordered for bandages to get removed. I understand that there will be an investigation and we will see what happens. Margarito and his group are responsible for the outcome of the commission,” Cotto said.

Cotto’s a tad more assertive than Mosley here, pointing out that “Margarito and his group are responsible” for whatever happens during a commission investigation. But given the circumstances, you’d think he might be even more assertive. On the other hand, it’s very noble of him not to jump to any conclusions. No one should.

And as for Evangelista, I’m not all that confident in his abilities as a trainer. Certainly, not to notice any sophisticated hand wrapping cheating techniques. One of the mysteries of all of this is that it took a rival trainer to notice anything irregular, as opposed to any state officials.

Now, here’s Paul Williams:

Williams says the controversy is being made to be bigger than it actually should be. He doesn’t see how anything would have helped Margarito in the fight.

“It didn’t matter what Margarito had in his gloves, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the fight. He didn’t land nothing. He couldn’t land any punches. Sugar Shane took him to school,” Williams said. Unless there is some kind of suspension brought down, Margarito may still fight Cotto in a June rematch. This time around, Williams believes Cotto will be ready.

“I think Cotto will get him this time. I don’t think he will lose the rematch. You have to stop Margarito’s momentum and that’s what Sugar Shane did and made Margarito a dead man walking,” Williams said.

That part, we know. Mosley beats Margarito that night no matter what. I’m surprised Williams didn’t have anything at all to say on the issue of whether Margarito may have cheated during their fight. But, then, I don’t suppose it would look great for Williams or Cotto or any past opponents, for that matter, to be jumping up and down about an allegation as opposed to a confirmed incident of cheating.

The potential ramifications of any confirmed cheating are staggering. When was the last time anyone on such a high level was caught with loaded gloves? I suppose you have to go back to the Trinidad incident, which, as I said, has some ambiguity to it. But other than that, I don’t know of anything quite like the seriousness of what Margarito supposedly did, combined with the esteem of the team that supposedly did it, which compares. Jack Dempsey versus Jess Willard obviously comes to mind, but those were allegations as opposed to a proven incident. I don’t like what this does to the sport of boxing (the cliche “black eye” comes to mind) if Margarito’s team is found to have done what is alleged. But that shouldn’t impact any investigation. Sunshine, the old saying goes, is the best disinfectant.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.