THE MOST interesting aspect of Saturday night's pay-per-view, split-site doubleheader might be an out-of-the-ring dispute, in which a Harvard-educated individual with a law degree is squaring off with an associate who has no legal training but is armed with his own strong opinion as to what constitutes right and wrong.
The Harvard guy, Bob Arum, founded Top Rank, the promotional company that oversees the career of former WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto, who has a distinctly different view of the matter in question.
Cotto (32-1, 26 KOs), who takes on England's Michael Jennings (34-1, 16 KOs) for the vacant WBO welterweight title in Madison Square Garden, is convinced his June 26, 2008, upset loss to Antonio Margarito - also promoted by Arum - stems at least in part to "Wrapgate," the controversy that sprang up when Margarito's hand wraps for his losing bout with Shane Mosley on Jan. 24 were found to be illegal. Without the hard, plaster of Paris-like inserts in the hand wraps, Margarito's punching power was not nearly as devastating against Mosley as it appeared to be against Cotto. The results of those fights reflect the apparent disparity: Margarito, who had lost most of the early rounds, eventually wore down Cotto en route to winning on an 11th-round technical knockout; against Mosley, the "Tijuana Tornado" wasn't even a stiff breeze in being stopped in 10 rounds.
Though trainer Javier Capetillo reportedly took responsibility, the California State Athletic Commission gave Margarito a 1-year suspension that almost certainly will be honored by other member states in the Association of Boxing Commissions. Margarito has hinted that he might try to keep busy by fighting in Mexico, where the suspension is less likely to be observed.
Arum, in the unenviable position of having to placate Cotto as he tries to keep Margarito in play, has said he believes the California commission should not have taken action against the fighter if it declined to find him culpable for Capetillo's rules violation.
"They deprived a young man of his livelihood after finding him innocent of any wrongdoing," Arum said. "That offends me as somebody who graduated from law school. It offends me as an American. Americans don't punish somebody who is proved to be innocent of any wrongdoing."
Cotto, on the other hand, thinks the only loss on his record is the real travesty of justice. He can't say for sure that Margarito's hand wraps were loaded the night they fought, but they were when Margarito was getting ready to fight Mosley and, hey, two and two still equals four, right?
"All I know is when everybody gets their hands wrapped, they know what's in them," Cotto said. "They know if something is in their hand wraps or not. As a fighter, you know if something's in there."
Cotto basically says that California's failure to establish Margarito's guilt is not tantamount to his being found innocent. Having common sense, or lack thereof, is not legal proof of anything, but I think I have to side with Cotto here.
Provided the on-site New York commissioners have been apprised of the brouhaha and actually observe the wrapping of the fighters' hands on Saturday, look for Cotto to get back on the winning track against Jennings, whose record has been mostly built against suspect opposition.
In the other half of the twin bill, WBC/WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik (34-1, 30 KOs) should bounce back from his Oct. 18 domination by Bernard Hopkins to handle the formidable but made-to-order Marco Antonio Rubio (43-4-1, 37 KOs) before a supportive crowd in Pavlik's hometown of Youngstown, Ohio.
"I got a lot of proving to do," Pavlik said.
The fifth annual Mitchell Allen Boxing Showcase is set for Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Shepard Recreation Center, 5700 Haverford Ave., with 10 amateur bouts on tap. For more info, call 215-685-1992 . . . Lajuan Simon (21-0-2, 12 KOs), from the city's Logan section, tries to regain for Philadelphia the IBF middleweight championship long held by the great Bernard Hopkins when he challenges the current titlist, Arthur Abraham (28-0, 23 KOs), on March 14 in Kiel, Germany . . .
In case you missed it, North Philly's "The New" Ray Robinson (10-0 4 KOs) looked sharp in stopping Darnell Jiles Jr. (8-1-1, 3 KOs), of Rochester, N.Y., in three rounds in an ESPN2-televised bout Friday at the Roseland Ballroom in New York . . . It'll be an interesting matchup of speed vs. power when Philly-based heavyweight "Fast" Eddie Chambers (33-1, 18 KOs) takes on ponderous Nigerian slugger Samuel Peter (30-2, 23 KOs) March 27 at a site to be determined. *