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Haunted by loss to Margarito, Cotto set for bout

The question of whether Antonio Margarito might have used an illegal substance in his gloves during his 11th-round TKO of Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas last July continues to linger.

Last month, Margarito's longtime trainer Javier Capetillo reportedly wrapped his hands in plaster-like knuckle pads just before his ninth-round, TKO loss to Shane Mosley.

Margarito and Capetillo had their licenses revoked on February 10 by the California State Athletic Commission, which means neither can participate in boxing in the United States for at least year. Both can reapply for licenses next year.

Cotto, peppered with questions on the subject during a pre-fight press conference at the Garden yesterday, stopped short of saying Margarito cheated during their fight. "I'd prefer to think he had a great night against me," said the two-time welterweight champ. "The only one who can tell you if he used is Margarito."

Cotto's promoter, Top Rank's head man Bob Arum, has maintained his belief that Margarito didn't know what Capetillo did and shouldn't be held responsible for his trainer's misdeeds. "The rules say that you punish someone for their own wrong doing," Arum said.

Margarito claimed he didn't know Capetillo wrapped his hands illegally. Cotto didn't buy it. "I'm responsible for my corner," Cotto said. "We are a team."

Cotto's thoughts on the subject of cheating went beyond boxing. "It's a lie. You are aware," Cotto replied when asked about athletes like Margarito and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who claim they didn't know what was going on or blaming it on youthful naiveté.

As for any rift between Arum and Cotto, Arum admitted Cotto wasn't pleased with the promoter's stance, but said it wasn't personal. "He was a little -- at me for defending Margarito, but it was a legal thing," said Arum, who promotes both Cotto and Margarito.

Cotto downplayed the rift, saying it was "just a disagreement" between the two.

As for his scheduled 12-round WBO welterweight title fight with England's Michael Jennings (34-1, 16 KOs) on Saturday night, Cotto (32-1, 26 KOs) said it will be his chance to show that world that he hasn't lost a step.

Although Cotto is the prohibitive favorite, it's an important fight according to Arum, who hopes to have Cotto back in the ring in June.

Said Arum: "It's important to see what he looks like after a loss."

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