By Matthew Hurley
In light of the recent controversy surrounding the hand wraps of Antonio Margarito
and whether or not chief cornerman Javier Capetillo applied a “plaster-like” substance to the wraps before Shane Mosley
’s trainer Naazim Richardson demanded they be rewrapped, subsequently discovering the apparent transgression, thoughts of many turned to a shameful boxing night in a packed Madison Square Garden back in 1983.
That night, on the undercard of Roberto Duran’s eighth round TKO victory over WBA junior middleweight champion Davey Moore, welterweight Luis Resto battered rising contender Billy Collins for 10 unmerciful rounds. Collins suffered hideous swelling around both eyes, which later revealed a torn iris that caused permanently blurred vision and ended his career.
At the time the boisterous crowd, anxiously awaiting Duran’s ring entrance, were unaware of a brewing controversy. As Collins’ father, Billy Sr. who worked his son’s corner, shook Resto’s still gloved hand in congratulations where he should have felt padding he felt nothing.
The video, which can be seen on Youtube, shows an emotional Collins Sr. shout out, “All the padding is out of the damn gloves! No padding!”
Resto appears to look for his manager Panama Lewis before pulling away. Collins Sr. then calls for the Commissioner.
The story continued to unfold as the gloves, but not Resto’s hand wraps, were confiscated in the dressing room by the New York State Athletic Commission. It was later confirmed that an ounce of padding had been removed from each eight-ounce glove. The ongoing investigation resulted in convictions in 1986 of Resto – assault, conspiracy and criminal possession of a deadly weapon, his fists. He was given a three year sentence and served 2 ½ years and was banned from boxing for life. His disgraced trainer Panama Lewis, who had been at the center of the ‘black bottle’ scandal during the Arron Pryor – Alexis Arguello fight in 1982, was convicted on the same counts as well as tampering and served 2 ½ years of a six year sentence. He was banned from being ringside for life.
The whole sordid mess was further cast in a dark shadow when, nine months later, Billy Collins, his career over and depression taking hold of his life, crashed his car in a drunken haze ending his life at twenty-two years of age. His father would forever maintain that his son committed suicide and holds that fateful night in 1983 and the circumstances and participants responsible for his son’s tragic end.
Resto would deny for years that he was aware the gloves had been tampered with. In a 2000 interview with Steve Farhood he would claim that, “The gloves felt the same as always. There were no holes. If the padding was out, when you hit somebody, you’d feel pain. You’d break your hands. My hands were fine. And if I knew the gloves had been tampered with, why would I have gone to Collins’ corner after the fight to congratulate him?”
Jump ahead eight years and Resto’s song does not remain the same. In a documentary entitled ‘Cornered’ directed by Resto’s friend Eric Drath, the fighter not only comes clean about the missing padding but also the hand wraps that were not confiscated by the Commission.