Friday, August 20, 2010

Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III?

Three weeks ago I wrote that as long as Floyd Mayweather wouldn't fight Manny Pacquiao, the fight I preferred to see was Pacquiao in a third match with rival Juan Manuel Marquez, not Pacquiao against Antonio Margarito, which is the fight Top Rank promoterBob Arum is intent on making.

I am not alone in my opinion. I received many tweets from the Fight Freaks agreeing with me that they'd rather see Pacquiao face Marquez again rather than the disgraced Margarito, who was pummeled by Shane Mosley in his last meaningful fight.

We are not alone.

Oscar De La Hoya, Marquez's promoter at Golden Boy, also feels the same way. There's no shock there. He's his promoter, after all. He's supposed to want his guy to get a big fight.

However, in talking with five national boxing writers on a conference call Thursday, De La Hoya made a strong case for Marquez to get the fight -- and called for Margarito's banishment from boxing because he tried to wear loaded hand wraps for his January 2009 fight against Mosley, one of De La Hoya's promotional partners.

Regardless of what media members, fans or De La Hoya have to say, Arum intends to move ahead in making Pacquiao-Margarito for Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium, even though Margarito's application for a new license in California -- which revoked his license after the Mosley fight -- was denied by the California State Athletic Commission on Wednesday.

There are many who believe Margarito will get a license in Texas anyway, and many who believe he should not get one.

De La Hoya is adamantly against him being licensed. But it sounded like his opinion stemmed more from him being a former fighter than it had to do with him being Marquez's promoter.

In fact, De La Hoya's opinion that Margarito should be banned is not new. He's been saying it since the beginning of the scandal.

"I've been very vocal on the whole Margarito situation," De La Hoya said. "My feelings have not changed. … Boxing is a sport I love and participated in inside the ring for many years. This is a dangerous sport and if you put anything on your fists or in your gloves, you should be banned for life. That is my sense. That is my position. [Margarito] says, 'I learned from my mistakes.' What if you would have killed somebody? You should fight again because you learned from your mistakes? You don't mess with somebody's life inside that ring."

De La Hoya said he followed Margarito's hearing with interest, and now that California has denied him a license, he believes Marquez should get the fight with Pacquiao.

"I want to make a strong case for Marquez, not only because I want to the watch the fight, but for all the fans who want to see the trilogy," he said. "Marquez has the strongest case out there in getting that fight with Pacquiao."

After all, Marquez and Pacquiao have fought two exceptional fights. The first one, for the featherweight championship, was a draw in 2004. The rematch, for the junior lightweight title, was a split decision for Pacquiao in 2008. There are legions who strongly believe Marquez won both fights, including me, and I was ringside for both.

"Marquez has a license, he's obviously ready and willing to fight Manny Pacquiao," De La Hoya said. "This is a fight that not only has to be made, but must be made. The first fight was a draw. The second fight was highly disputed. It's only fair that a third fight happens. Here is Marquez with a license, willing to fight him and I think the public really deserves it. … It goes down to what the right thing is for the fans or the sport. The right thing is making a third fight with Marquez."

De La Hoya put the blame for the fight not happening squarely on Arum, who has refused to entertain the bout even though Pacquiao has always said he was willing to do it.

"Marquez is willing to fight him," said De La Hoya, who has had an acrimonious relationship with Arum for many years following the breakup of their business relationship. "We keep on making our case why this fight should be happening. Pacquiao wants the fight. The only person who does not want the fight is Bob Arum and that is not fair. Not fair to the public, not fair to Marquez, not fair to Pacquiao. This is a fight that should be made.

"I actually don't understand why Bob Arum's position would be such. We've put up polls in different websites and the fans say that's the fight they want to watch. Bob Arum, let's make this fight."

De La Hoya said his business partner, Richard Schaefer, has talked to Arum "recently" about the third fight, "but the answer has always been no. It's no because Marquez has [Pacquiao's] number."

If they did sit down to try to make the match, De La Hoya acknowledged that figuring out the weight would be an issue. Marquez is the lightweight champion -- and defended the title impressively in a rematch with Juan Diaz on July 31 -- but he failed miserably in a welterweight fight against Mayweather last year. Pacquiao holds a welterweight title, but held the junior welterweight title before that, and his trainer, Freddie Roach, has maintained that he can fight in either division.

"[Marquez] just wants the fight," De La Hoya said. "We are going to talk to Marquez in the next week or so and there is Plan B, but Plan A is to fight Pacquiao. … Marquez will fight him in Manila if he has to."

A few random thoughts as well:

• If the Devon Alexander-Timothy Bradley Jr. fight gets finalized, which I expect it will, I'd love to see HBO produce one of its excellent 30-minute countdown shows to hype it up. It's a fight worth the effort.

• I keep hearing the names Andriy Kotelnik and Marcos Maidana mentioned as possible opponents for welterweight titlist Andre Berto in the fall. Why junior welterweights? At least Maidana wants to stay in his own weight class and take care of business. I'd rather see Berto fight a true welterweight such as Mike Jones.

• If Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute ever fight each other, I'll be in Montreal for the fight. I wouldn't miss it.

• I wish Chad Dawson had been as aggressive against Pascal as he was with Larry Merchant in their post-fight interview.

• How about a match between Daniel Petrocelli and Karen Chappelle on a pay-per-view card? After the way the lawyers battled each other during Margarito's California license hearing, I'd love to see them throw down for real.

• If any of you still think Andre Ward-Andre Dirrell is going to happen on Sept. 25, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Erislandy Lara, the former amateur star and Cuban defector, may only be 12-0 as a pro, but his amateur experience makes him a far more seasoned fighter than his record makes the 27-year-old look. After watching him dominate his recent fights against decent opposition, including Wednesday's first-round knockout of Willie Lee, I think Lara is ready for a major step up in competition. So do Lara and his handlers at Golden Boy. They think he's ready for anybody in the junior middleweight division. How about this fight for HBO: Lara against Alfredo "Perro" Angulo? Lara just might slap the "Dog" around.

• Happy birthday to rising publicist Lisa Milner of Swanson Communications.

• And, of course, happy birthday to the High-Haired One, Don King, who turns 79 on Friday.


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