LOS ANGELES (AP) — Antonio Margarito's promoter and lawyer think it's time for the disgraced welterweight to reclaim both his reputation and his U.S. boxing licenses.
Promoter Bob Arum and lawyer Daniel Petrocelli renewed their criticism of the California State Athletic Commission on Monday for its decision last year to revoke Margarito's license, which still hasn't been restored since glove-loading allegations derailed the former welterweight champion's career in January 2009.
"He sat on the sidelines, and now he wants to move forward," Petrocelli said. "And most importantly, he wants to remove this cloud over what has been a completely unblemished reputation throughout his career. He has been a model citizen in the boxing community. He has been a role model, and this has been a horrendous experience for him, and he wants to clear his reputation and move forward."
Margarito (37-6, 27 KOs) will return to the ring against Roberto Garcia in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on May 8 in his first fight since two suspect knuckle pads were confiscated moments before the former welterweight champ's knockout loss to Sugar Shane Mosley early last year.
A later test determined the wraps contained elements of plaster, but Petrocelli insists the pads weren't the hardened weapons many have suggested. He also says the ingredients detected by the test — including sulfur and calcium — can be found in many substances.
Petrocelli insists Margarito had no knowledge the knuckle pads contained anything illegal. The pads had been made before the fight by trainer Javier Capetillo, who also had his license revoked and no longer works with Margarito.
While much of the boxing community has condemned Margarito and cast suspicion on his string of impressive victories, Arum has loudly maintained Margarito knowingly did nothing illegal.
"People who really know very little about the fact would like to sentence this guy to purgatory for the rest of his life, and that's really outrageous and wrong," Arum said.
Arum considered putting Margarito on the undercard of Pacquiao's bout with Joshua Clottey last month in Texas, but wasn't included in the show after criticism from the national Association of Boxing Commissions reached the Texas commission.
Yet Arum confidently predicts Margarito's next fight "is going to be in the United States," perhaps in Texas this summer. Arum also would like to match Margarito against Manny Pacquiao this fall if the pound-for-pound champion can't make a deal to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Margarito's suspect pads were first noticed by Naazim Richardson, Mosley's trainer, who requested the re-inspection that led to the Margarito's eventual downfall. Richardson has said he thinks Margarito should remain suspended from boxing.
Petrocelli has argued both for Margarito's innocence and ignorance while also saying he isn't culpable for his trainer's actions, since trainers are independent contractors. Asked how a boxer possibly couldn't know what was on his own hands, Petrocelli claims Margarito must not have noticed the suspect gauze pad going inside his larger hand wraps.
Many boxers are equally divided on the punishment for Margarito, who's expected to plead his own case Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Kermit Cintron, who was stopped by Margarito in April 2005 and again in April 2008 for the only two losses of his career, told The Associated Press last week he suspects Margarito had illegal wraps on his hands during their bouts.
"I think he had stuff in his gloves, (but) that's just my opinion," Cintron said, replying with an expletive when asked what he thought about Margarito being allowed to fight in Mexico. "You look at those losses, and I don't know how it happened. You guys saw what he did before they caught him."
Multidivisional star Paul Williams, who beat Margarito in a narrow unanimous decision in July 2007, has a much more conciliatory attitude.
"You don't have any proof," Williams said. "I don't think the man should be banned, because that's how he makes his living. I think he should pay a bigger fine, but you can't take away a man's livelihood when there's no proof he's been doing it every time."