Miguel Cotto Contemplates Leaving Top Rank Over Antonio Margarito, And He Should

Here’s the latest from welterweight (147 lbs.) star Miguel Cotto, discussing his promotional company Top Rank’s advocacy for the license-revoked Antonio Margarito, who got caught using loaded hand wraps in January and may have used loaded hand wraps last summer to put Cotto’s career in jeopardy:

“I’m just going to stay with them until the contract is finished,” Cotto said by phone from New York, where he is preparing to fight Briton Michael Jennings on Saturday for the vacant World Boxing Organization welterweight title.

“After that, we’re going to sit with the company and talk.”

But when Cotto, who has been with [Top Rank boss Bob] Arum since turning pro after the 2000 Olympics, was asked if he could see himself with another promoter next year, he answered with a quick “yes.”

And why wouldn’t he? Arum’s behavior in this whole affair, from suggesting the California State Athletic Commission is racist to threatening to blackball the whole state to proposing staging a Margarito fight in Mexico, has been absolutely ludicrous. There’s defending one of your teammates, and then there’s defending someone — a man, Margarito, who very well may have cheated in such a way that it permanently damaged the health of another teammate, Cotto — so vociferously that veteran boxing scribe Ron Borges recently suggested Arum might need to be banned from the sport for life.

Arum is completely underestimating the degree to which his behavior has gone over the edge, and “appeared unconcerned” by Cotto’s remarks.

“We stand by our fighters,” Arum said. “No amount of monetary gain can make me throw Antonio Margarito under the bus. I’ve explained it to [Cotto]. I’ve explained it to people around him.

“It will all work out. Don’t worry about it. This controversy will pass.”

Actually, Arum is only standing with ONE of his fighters. And in doing so, he’s standing against TWO of his other fighters, Cotto and Joshua Clottey, both of whom have tainted losses at the hands of Margarito’s potentially loaded gloves, since no one knows how far back this trend goes. A lawyer for Clottey’s manager has gotten involved. Cotto’s not gone that route yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. This is a very quiet, professional businessman, Cotto, and he’s gone so far as to say that Top Rank knew Margarito had loaded gloves. When someone with Cotto’s demeanor is saying things like that, best believe this is ser-i-ous. If Cotto left Top Rank, well, wouldn’t you? And if he did, do you think Arum might learn his lesson, too late, that everything he’s saying and doing in the Margarito case is completely and totally unacceptable?

About Tim Starks

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