When Shane Mosley sent Antonio Margarito to the canvass in the ninth round of their boxing match, the Mexican sensation was only knocked out for the requisite 10-count.
But the defeat in Los Angeles cost Margarito more than a blemish on his record, it cost him his reputation as a fighter.
Before stepping into the ring for the bout on Jan. 24, 2009, Mosley's trainer, Naazim Richardson, noticed something peculiar with Margarito's hand wraps—they were damp. As the wraps were removed, the substance hardened, much like plaster.
The bout was allowed to continue, but Margarito's boxing license was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission almost immediately.
Multiple appeals were denied to Margarito, who has since sought bouts in Texas, on the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey card, and in Nevada, where he has been named as a possible opponent for Pacquiao.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission hasn't determined whether it will license Margarito for a possible December bout, referring the matter back to California, but it speaks to a higher problem in sports and, in particular, boxing.
Cheating is not properly punished.
Get caught using steroids in Major League Baseball and sit out 50 games, not even a third of the season.
The risk/reward is just too high for athletes, many of whom are seeking upwards of $100 million for their performances.
But no form of cheating is worse than what Margarito has done. When he stepped into the ring, record books weren't in danger—lives were.
There has to be a stiffer sentence for Margarito, or else other boxers will try and pull the same stunt. That's why the former welterweight champion should be barred from boxing—permanently.
Others have been sentenced to that fate in a wide range of sports; Pete Rose for betting on baseball and Muhammad Ali for refusing to report for service after being drafted (which was later successfully appealed).
A permanent ban would be more than reasonable for a man who hoped to pound Mosley's face with the equivalent of brass knuckles. Even worse, Margarito could have done the same thing earlier in his career.
It needs to happen and would send a clear message that the sport is willing to clean up. Who is the sucker now?
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