Friday, August 27, 2010

Pacquiao vs Margarito Goes for Real

Former welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito was licensed to box by Texas regulators on Thursday, paving the way for him to meet pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao for a vacant junior middleweight belt.

Margarito's application for a license in Texas was approved despite California denying him a license on a 5-1 vote earlier this month. Margarito's license was revoked in the wake of his January 2009 knockout loss to Shane Mosley in which Margarito's hand wraps were found to be illegal before the fight.

Margarito and Pacquiao will meet Nov. 13 on HBO PPV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. It will be Pacquiao's second consecutive fight at Jerry Jones' $1.2 billion home of the Dallas Cowboys, but against a far more controversial opponent than Joshua Clottey, whom Pacquiao easily outpointed there on March 13 in defense of his welterweight belt on the arena's first boxing card.

"I want to thank the state of Texas for granting me a boxing license which enables me to continue my passion for the sport of boxing in the United States," Margarito said in a statement. "I have dedicated my life to giving the fans of the sport entertainment and excitement. On Nov. 13, this great opportunity will ultimately be fulfilled when I battle Manny Pacquiao."

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, on vacation in France, was happy with the news.

"For me, it was like a terrible nightmare, this whole thing, and now the sun is shining," Arum told "I really believe that it will be a very competitive fight. One guy is much bigger and stronger [Margarito] and the other guy [Pacquiao] is quicker and hits with both hands. It will be a fascinating fight to watch."

If Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs), who will be fighting for the first time since being elected to a congressional seat in the Philippines, wins, he will collect a title in a record-extending eighth weight class. He has already won titles at welterweight, junior welterweight, lightweight, junior lightweight, featherweight, junior featherweight and flyweight.

Arum said Top Rank is planning a media tour to promote the fight beginning Tuesday in Los Angeles followed by a stop in New York on Wednesday and one in Dallas on Friday.

The fight will be Margarito's first since he outpointed Roberto Garcia in May in his home country of Mexico, where he waited to fight until after the license revocation period in California had expired.

Pacquiao's fight with Clottey drew a crowd of 50,994, one of the largest in U.S. history. Arum believes the fight with Margarito will draw an even bigger crowd.

"I think the crowd will be much bigger and Jerry [Jones] thinks it will also," Arum said. "The last fight was not during football season. This one is, and we have all the Dallas Cowboys assets they use during the season to help this time. We have a lot of stuff that we didn't have for the Clottey fight. With Margarito being Hispanic, and this is North Texas, which has a huge Hispanic population, that will make this even bigger."

Jones said: "This is a good one because we know Margarito -- with our fan base, in our area -- if we do the fight, then it'll be a big draw."

Arum said he expects Margarito to sign the contract over the weekend and for Pacquiao, who is scheduled to arrive in the United States from the Philippines on Monday, to sign then.

Arum said the undercard could include the return of former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik in his first bout since he lost the title to Sergio Martinez in April.

Also ticketed for the undercard is junior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux, the two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist who recently signed with Top Rank, as well as welterweight prospect Mike Jones of Philadelphia.

Dan Rafael - ESPN

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