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Manny Pacquiao looks to fight Antonio Margarito in U.S.

Now that promoter Bob Arum has replaced Floyd Mayweather Jr. as his superstar's opponent on Nov. 13, the former world champion from Mexico is seeking reinstatement from the California State Athletic Commission.

July 24, 2010|By Lance Pugmire
  • Manny Pacquiao is interviewed after an orientation for incoming congressmen in Quezon City, Philippines.
Manny Pacquiao is interviewed after an orientation for incoming congressmen… (Rolex Dela Pena / EPA )

The decision whether to reinstate scandal-plagued Antonio Margarito to boxing in the U.S. became a more interesting issue now that Manny Pacquiao has decided to fight him.

"There are a number of states who'd license Margarito," the fighters' promoter, Bob Arum, said Saturday, after determining with Pacquiao's management team Friday that Margarito would be the alternate foe on Nov. 13 following a failed bid to stage the sport's super-fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Formerly a two-time world welterweight champion, Margarito (38-6, 27 knockouts) hasn't fought in the U.S. since January 2009, when California authorities seized plaster-covered inserts from inside both of his hand wraps before Margarito lost to Shane Mosley at Staples Center. The California State Athletic Commission revoked the licenses of Margarito and his trainer Javier Capetillo at a February 2009 hearing, and have yet to reinstate him.

Nevada considered Margarito's request earlier this month – Margarito, 32, has fired Capetillo and has maintained he did not know the inserts were placed inside his wraps -- but the state tabled its decision, requesting he return to California for an official reinstatement or denial. Margarito's request could be heard in California next month.

However, Arum said some boxing commissioners across the nation expressed interest at an Assn. of Boxing Commissions meeting earlier this month in licensing Margarito with or without California's blessing.

The front-running options behind Nevada to negotiate for the fight are Texas, which staged a lucrative Pacquiao fight against Joshua Clottey before more than 50,000 at Cowboys Stadium in March, and New Jersey, which like Nevada is certainly interested in bringing a big crowd and wealthy gamblers to its state.

"We're confident we'll get him licensed here," Arum said.

If that doesn't happen, Arum said he's negotiated with representatives in Abu Dhabi and Monterrey, Mexico, which has a 22,000-seat arena and would allow Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs) to skirt a steep 30% federal tax in the U.S.

Rival promoter Dan Goossen has said Pacquiao's reputation would be diminished by taking a fight in Mexico against a banned Margarito "like thieves in the night."

"It's not running out of the country, it's a good economic deal," Arum said. "Manny's not a fugitive."

Economics clearly played a factor in Pacquiao's decision to fight Margarito instead of taking on a rematch against world junior-middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, whom Pacquiao handily defeated by 12th-round technical knockout in November. Cotto rallied under new trainer Emanuel Steward to claim the junior-middleweight belt, but Arum said that fight remains a viable future option should Mayweather continue to decline to accept a Pacquiao bout next year.

"We can't hold our breath, there's something very weird going on with that guy [Mayweather]," Arum said.

The selling points of a Margarito bout, to be televised by HBO pay-per-view, will begin with the drama of his reinstatement bid, a lively point of debate. The bout has historic significance as Pacquiao seeks a record seventh world weight division title at junior middleweight, 154 pounds, with the vacant World Boxing Council belt up for grabs. Pacquiao will be a clear favorite against the slower Margarito, who returned to the ring in May and won a unanimous decision over Roberto Garcia in Mexico.

Arum said Pacquiao will begin training Sept. 13 in the Philippines with his Los Angeles-based trainer, Freddie Roach, and the pair will return to their Hollywood gym by October.

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