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Pacquiao: Margarito had to know about pads

31
Aug

Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito were friendly at the first news conference to promote their Nov. 13. However, Pacquiao was honest when asked whether he believes Margarito knew he had illegal pads in his hand wraps before he fought Shane Mosley. Pacquiao is sure he did. Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Bob Arum had just finished making a passionate speech about the injustice inflicted upon Antonio Margarito, saying no one could prove he knew beforehand about the illegal knuckle pads that led to his temporary banishment from boxing.

The promoter of Manny Pacquiao cited an internet story that quoted five trainers as saying they could easily slip such a pad into a fighter’s hand wraps without him knowing about it.

Then, after the formal portion of the news conference at the posh Beverly Hills Hotel to promote the Pacquiao-Margarito fight on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium, Pacquaio, surrounded by reporters, was asked whether he believed Margarito knew.

“Of course,” he said without hesitation. “I don’t believe him. It’s on his hands, he’s the one having his hands wrapped. He doesn’t know what things they put inside? Of course he knows that. He’s just making some alibis for some reason.”

There’s no way a fighter can’t know? he was asked.

“Exactly.”

So why are you fighting him? he was then asked in so many words.

“People are worried about me fighting this guy because he’s a dirty fighter because of the hand wrapping,” Pacquiao said. “I said, ‘Give him one more chance, one chance to be straight.’ ÔǪ He’s just human and he made a mistake.”

No spin. No BS. Just sincerity, which is typical of Pacquiao.

And with that he made it more difficult to criticize him for fighting Margarito, who lost his license in California after he was caught with the illegal pads in his wraps before he fought Shane Mosley in January of last year.

Margarito applied for reinstatement in California two weeks ago but was denied, after which Texas approved his application.

That decision, the opportunity Margarito has to face the No. 1 fighter in the world for a lucrative payday and all those involved in the promotion have been criticized by many members of the media. Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports referred to Pacquiao as, “despicable.”

Does that bother his handlers?

“A little bit, yes,” said Alex Ariza, his longtime strength and fitness coach. “These guys are fighters. It’s a business. Manny has a promoter, the best promoter in boxing. If Bob thinks this is the best fight for him, then he’ll go with what Bob says. I thought Kevin Iole was way out of line calling Manny despicable.

“ÔǪ Manny isn’t going to play judge and jury. That’s why they have commissions. If someone feels the penalty was too lenient, take it up with [the commissions]. What does Manny have to do with that?”

Margarito probably could’ve taken a lesson from Pacquiao. To this day, he hasn’t acknowledged that he at least should’ve known about the pads even if he didn’t, which he continues to maintain.

“Americans love to forgive,” Ariza said. “Look at the guys on steroids in baseball. The guys who said, ‘I’m sorry. I made a mistake,’ they were forgiven and were taken back. Margarito didn’t do that. It’s an insult to everybody’s intelligence to say he didn’t know.

“He would’ve been better off to say he was sorry, he knew (about the pads), and I think the boxing world would’ve forgiven him.”

Margarito clearly is frustrated that the hand-wrap issue continues to hound him 19 months after the Mosley fight.

He was told what Pacquiao had said moments earlier, that he had to know about the pads, and his face contorted as if he had bitten into a lemon.

“That’s in the past,” he said curtly through an interpreter. “I don’t care what anyone says. Now, I’m training to fight.”

The issue won’t go away, though. Even Margarito’s handlers acknowledge it.

“We’re relieved that Tony received a license,” said Sergio Diaz, Margarito’s co-manager. “I don’t think this [hand-wraps issue] is over, though. I think it will continue to follow us for a long, long time.”

Weighty issue: Pacquiao probably could’ve demanded that his fight against Margarito take place at 147 pounds. However, he agreed to a catch weight of 151 pounds and will fight for a vacant 154-pound title, which would give Pacquiao a major belt in an eighth weight division.

Pacquiao and his handlers obviously aren’t concerned about giving the bigger man a few extra pounds.

“I think this fight will boil down to speed again,” Ariza said. “Manny won’t sit in front of him. Margarito doesn’t move well; everyone knows that. Manny said Margarito throws a punch on Tuesday and it gets there on Friday.

“If Manny sees it like that, he already knows what he’s going to do.”

Ariza said he expects Pacquiao to weigh in at 149 or 150 pounds for the fight. Pacquiao has never fought heavier than 145¾, his weight for the Joshua Clottey fight in March.

Ariza isn’t worried that Pacquiao will lose any speed.

“Earlier, when we first started this conditioning stuff, I would’ve been concerned,” he said. “Now that we’ve been through this in several fights together, though, I think his body knows how to handle the extra weight.”

No Mayweather: Pacquiao was asked several times about Floyd Mayweather Jr., the fighter many hoped he would face in his next fight.

He clearly didn’t want to go there. He served up an obligatory “I’ll fight anyone at a limit of 150 pounds” but nodded when someone asked whether he has more of less given up on fighting his rival for the top position in boxing.

Will he be OK if he never faces Mayweather? He was asked.

“More than OK,” he said.

70,000: Cowboys Stadium, in Arlington, Texas, will be configured for 70,000 fans and could expanded depending on the demand for tickets, Arum said.

That would break the indoor record for a fight, which at the moment is the 63,350 who attended the Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks rematch at the Louisiana Superdome in 1978.

Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey had an attendance of 50,994 at Cowboys Stadium. The building, which has a retractable roof, had been configured for 42,000 but standing-room-only tickets were also sold.

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