IN BRIEF

BOXING

Margarito claims innocence
in glove-loading scandal

Antonio Margarito became a welterweight champion by refusing to back down in the ring. He apparently sees no reason to start now, even when it might benefit his tarnished career.

Margarito defiantly claimed innocence and ignorance when he finally spoke at length Tuesday in Los Angeles about the glove-loading scandal early last year that led to the revocation of his California boxing license and a 16-month ring absence, which will end next month in Mexico.

Speaking vigorously in rapid-fire Spanish, Margarito said he sees no reason to apologize for the illegal hand wraps that led to his yearlong suspension because he never knew his former trainer, Javier Capetillo, was breaking any rules by using forbidden substances in the wraps.

Margarito repeatedly claimed he knew nothing about any irregular gauze pads inserted into his hand wraps for his fight against Shane Mosley in January 2009, and his camp has debated the very illegality of the substances. When Mosley’s trainer objected to Capetillo’s wraps, officials discovered the pads, which apparently were loaded with a substance resembling plaster.

Margarito’s license subsequently was revoked for at least one year by the California State Athletic Commission, preventing him from fighting anywhere in the U.S.

HOCKEY

Ovechkin helps Capitals finish
season sweep of Penguins

Alex Ovechkin scored twice to tie Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead with 48 goals, and the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals swept the season series from the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 6-3 road victory.

Crosby had a goal and two assists to give the Penguins captain his fourth 100-point year in five seasons — he missed only when he sat out two months of 2007-08 with a high ankle sprain — but Pittsburgh still lost its fourth in a row to Washington.

Ovechkin had just four goals in 18 games before scoring on a power play early in the third period, and he added an empty-net goal with a second remaining. Nicklas Backstrom set up both during a three-assist game, giving him 67 assists.

Pittsburgh played without star forward Evgeni Malkin, who was out for the eighth time in 10 games — this time with an undisclosed illness that caused him to leave the ice a few minutes into the pregame warm-up.

Also: A concussion is expected to keep Colorado Avalanche newcomer Peter Mueller sidelined for the final week of the regular season.

Mueller, who has a team-best nine goals since the Avs acquired him in a trade with Phoenix on March 3, was injured in Colorado’s 5-4 win over San Jose in overtime Sunday. After scoring two goals, Mueller crashed into the boards following a blind-side hit from former Avs defenseman Rob Blake.

MISCELLANEOUS

UNLV baseball team loses
slugfest against Texas Tech

The UNLV baseball team lost to Texas Tech 11-9 at Wilson Stadium.

Hunter Beaty went 3-for-4 with a triple, an RBI and a run scored for UNLV (17-13), Cash Thomas went 1-for-4 with three RBIs, and Robbie De La Cruz and Richie Jimenez each had two hits and two runs scored.

Also: UNLV’s Marissa Nichols was named Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Week in softball. Nichols was 8-for-12 with a home run, a triple, three doubles, four RBIs and five runs scored, helping the Rebels go 3-0 at a tournament in St. George, Utah.

Lionel Messi scored four goals, getting a hat trick in a 22-minute span of the first half, to carry defending champion Barcelona over Arsenal 4-1 in the European Champions League quarterfinals in Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona won the home-and-home, total-goals series on a 6-3 aggregate and will play Inter Milan in the semifinals starting April 20 in Italy. Inter Milan beat host CSKA Moscow 1-0 to win on a 2-0 aggregate.

Zenyatta arrived at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., and was cheered at the airport and honored with a two-car police escort to the track where she’ll try to run her record to 16-0. The 6-year-old mare, who created a sensation by beating the boys in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, flew on a charter plane in a rare foray from her home base in Southern California. She will run in Friday’s Apple Blossom Invitational.

Caster Semenya intends to return to competition June 24 at a meet in Zaragoza, Spain, agreeing to wait for the results of her gender tests before coming back. The 800-meter world champion said in a statement that Athletics South Africa requested she hold off until the test results are back. Those are expected in June.

Unless she is cleared by track and field’s international governing body, it is unlikely she will be allowed to run.

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