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Bob Arum weighs in on Antonio Margarito scandal

January 28, 2009 |  8:00 pm

Antonio Margarito

The Antonio Margarito plot thickened late in the day when the California State Athletic Commission announced that the state Department of Justice will analyze the "foreign substance" found in the boxer's hand wraps during his recent fight with Shane Mosley.

Earlier today, the CSAC found the substance to be suspicious enough to warrant temporary suspensions for Margarito and his trainer, Javier Capetillo, pending a Feb. 10 hearing in Van Nuys.

It's very likely that, with the DOJ's expertise, the CSAC will be able to determine exactly what that substance is.

The boxing community is outraged by this episode, but Margarito promoter Bob Arum told me Wednesday that his fighter is not a cheater.

In addition to hiring an attorney to defend Margarito, Arum said the fighter is "fine," after learning of the suspension, "because he's completely innocent."

"We're absolutely confident he's going to be exonerated," Arum told The Times. "He's not a cheater, he wouldn't know anything about cheating."

That was a pretty strong statement, so I asked Arum if he felt the same way about Capetillo, the trainer. The response was classic Arum.

"That," Arum said, "I don't know."

Capetillo trained Margarito at a gym in Montebello.

Sergio Diaz, Margarito's manager, in a text message sent to the Times, wrote that he didn't want to comment extensively on the matter. He did add that, "I'm assuming [the suspension] is a CSAC standard procedure."

A longer suspension could lead to the scrapping of a tentatively scheduled June 13 Margarito rematch with Miguel Cotto -- who was undefeated before being knocked out by Margarito in July.

Cotto's camp will be watching the Feb. 10 hearing closely "for various reasons," Cotto's advisor Gabriel Penagaricano told my Times colleague Kevin Baxter on Wednesday.

Arum, though, maintained that "nobody should be jumping to any conclusions" about Margarito's hand wraps during the Cotto fight. He said boxers fighting in Nevada are restricted to a certain type of gauze, and that state boxing authorities and the opposing trainer inspect wrappings closely.

"It couldn’t have happened in Nevada," Arum said.

-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: A member of Antonio Margarito's corner holds the boxer's head at the end of the WBA welterweight title fight against Shane Mosley at Staples Center. Mosley won the fight in the ninth round when the Margarito corner threw in the towel. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times