By Michael Woods
Here's your Plan B, fight fans.
Manny Pacquiao will not fight Floyd Mayweather in 2010, or maybe forever. But he will fight Antonio Margarito, the man previously known as the most avoided in boxing, but currently, and for evermore, known as the man who tried to use hardened hand pads for a 2009 fight with Shane Mosley.
First reported by Yahoo's Kevin Iole, the news of the Pacquiao-Margarito bout, set for Nov. 13, with site TBA, leaves fight fans something less than madly enthused.
During his infamous 3 AM conference call last Friday, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum said he'd still try and make Manny-Money, even though Floyd blew off Arum's line-in-the-sand deadline. But that thin vein of hope ran dry when Mayweather advisor Leonard Ellerbe accused Arum of lying, as he insisted that negotiations, which Arum said were conducted by HBO boxing chief Ross Greenburg ferrying info between the two teams, never took place. Arum on that call mentioned Margarito, or Miguel Cotto, as potential replacements for Money. It looks as though that trial ballon told Arum what he needed to know, that folks weren't interested at this time in seeing Miguel Cotto get another crack at the Congressman, not after Manny gave him a thorough thumping when they gloved up last November (TKO12 Manny win).
The choice of Margarito will draw howls in some quarters, as the promoter himself hinted at when he acknowledged that editorializing will take place if the ex welter champ Margarito, currently not licensed to fight in the US after the California commission yanked his right to fight after PlasterGate (Jan. 24, 2009--TKO9 loss to Mosley), were to sign on to fight the Filipino. Many boxing fans think the boxer, who was born in California but grew up in Tijuana, should have been banned permanently for his transgression. Blame for the incident was heaped upon his now ex trainer, Javier Capetillo, with the boxer saying that he didn't know that anything was amiss in his gloves before he was set to tangle with Mosley. Those that would label him "Margacheato" see him as being a man without honor, undeserving of making a massive payday, his career best, against Manny. I'm inclined to agree with those that say the punishment maybe could be more stern, and certainly if proof came out that the man used illegal implements before, say, against Miguel Cotto, who he whacked around like he had a roll of nickles in each hand in July 2008 (TKO11 win), then I'd lobby hard for a lifetime ban.
That said, many folks will gladly pony up $50 to see Manny "beat the cheater," so from a sales standpoint, Arum will likely have a winner. No, it won't do 40% of the Manny-Money numbers, but all involved will make out handsomely.
The 45-6 Margarito turned 32 in March. Whispers abound that he isn't the same man, the same breed of boxer, post PlasterGate. Some whisper that's because his best weapons have been taken from him. Others say that he's just physically past his prime, and that his hiatus hasn't helped. He didn't look worthy, really, of a Manny fight when he took a UD10 from Roberto Garcia in Mexico on May 8th.
Manny (51-3-2), who turns 32 in December, will be gunning for a title, a vacant strap, in the 154 pound class, which would be the eighth division he'd ruled, a record in the sport.
Arum told Iole that Margarito, turned down two weeks ago when he applied for a license in Vegas, will seek reinstatement in California next week. The Vegas commission to Margarito to go back to the scene of the crime, and seek the OK. So it looks like Vegas would be the first choice for the event, with Mexico being number two, and Abu Dhabi a distant third.
TSS U, weigh in....As if I have to propel you! Does Margarito deserve the shot? Who is more worthy? Morals and ethics aside, does he have a shot to beat a faster, fresher man?
Contact Michael Woods @ TheSweetScience.com