Disgraced just a year ago, Mexican boxer Antonio Margarito is now making a comeback on top of the world of prizefighting.
The former two-time world champion, infamously known for being caught with a loaded hand-wrap prior to a title bout with Sugar Shane Mosley, landed the fight of his career Friday when Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum chose him as boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao’s opponent on November 13.
Both Pacquiao and Margarito are promoted by Top Rank.
The choice of Margarito came about after Arum got no response from unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. on his willingness to sign the contract for a bout that would pit two of the biggest names in boxing today.
Miguel Cotto, the Puerto Rican legend whom Pacquiao demolished in 12 rounds last November to win the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown, was also included in Arum’s list but in the end Margarito turned out to be the logical choice.
“Margarito knows only one way to fight and that’s coming forward," said the 78-year old Arum in defending his choice of an opponent deemed by many as unpopular following his illegal tactic of putting a hardened substance in his knuckle pad during the fight with Mosley which he lost by a ninth round technical knockout.
“They’re going to get in there and fight. That’s what people want to see."
While a Cotto rematch may still be competitive, Arum sees a Margarito fight as a lucrative option.
“Cotto was beaten and even with (Hall of Fame trainer) Emanuel Steward now with him, I don’t think people believe that it’s enough to make a difference and I’m not sure they would buy it as competitive," Arum said.
Pacquiao, now busy preparing for the Philippine Congress’ Monday opening, is indeed amenable to the fight having been consulted first about the matter by Arum and his adviser, Michael Konz.
“That’s fine with me. I have no problems in fighting Margarito and this will be my first time to fight in Mexico," said the 31-year-old Pacquiao, who’s also known as the ‘Mexican Assassin’ for beating legendary fighters out of the North American country such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar Larios, Hector Velasquez and Jorge Solis.
But the match can only be held in Mexico in the event Margarito’s bid to re-apply for a U.S. license is revoked for good.
Margarito was suspended for a year following that illegal hand-wrap incident in January last year.
The one-year suspension slapped on the 32-year old Mexican by the California State Athletic Commission – Staples Center being the site of his fight with Mosley then – has already elapsed and Arum said Margarito will definitely re-apply for a license.
Margarito actually applied for a license in Nevada last July 9, but the Nevada Athletic Commission voted 4-1 to shelve his application, telling him instead to apply first in California.
But outside of the controversy hounding Margarito, a two-time welterweight champion, Arum said Margarito is definitely a competitive opponent for Pacquiao once they meet in the ring.
“Putting aside the controversy about the wraps, the one thing you know for sure with a Margarito fight is that it will be a hell of a fight for however long it lasts," said the Top Rank chairman.
Following his ninth round loss to Mosley and the subsequent lifting of the suspension, Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) made his comeback fight last May in Mexico, scoring a hardly impressive unanimous decision win over Roberto Garcia.
Pacquiao (51-3, 38KOs) last fought on March 13 at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium, carving out a lopsided unanimous decision win against Joshua Clottey to retain his WBO 147lb-title belt in front of a crowd of 51,000.
– JVP, GMANews.TV