It came as no surprise when the negligible Texas commission licensed Antonio Margarito and paved the way for a big bout at Cowboys Stadium against Manny Pacquiao.
Margarito, of course, was suspended for illegal hand wraps discovered prior to his bout with Shane Mosley in January 2009. He was forced to re-wrap, and beaten in surprisingly one-sided fashion.
A one-year suspension ensued, and in recent weeks the California commission upheld that decision (Nevada deferred to their neighbouring state).
Margarito (38-6-1, 27 knockouts) has cut ties with Javier Capetillo and blamed the incident on his former trainer, stating repeatedly he had no knowledge of the difference in hand wraps. Those claims rang hollow but ...
Texas has looked askance in the past to convention held elsewhere by the other U.S. commissions. It is the state that has continually employed as referee the dangerously incompetent Lawrence Cole, son of the previous commission chairman.
Margarito is not deserving of this chance morally or by boxing standards - he's fought just once in the last 20 months, a workmanlike decision over the unthreatening Roberto Garcia in Mexico in May.
But boxing writers are a passionate breed, and many are letting their repugnance get in the way of their judgment and supposed neutrality. Many have gone on record hoping that Pacquiao administers a prolonged beating.
It's possible that Pacquiao will blow out Margarito, but in the absence of the controversy, there's no way you could make a logical case for it.
Prior to the Mosley bout, many of the same writers who now find Margarito morally repugnant were absolutely clamouring for Floyd Mayweather to give the Mexican a title shot, and accusing the American of ducking him.
He'd never been blown out by anyone prior to that, and you could convincingly argue that Mosley, while not at the total level of Pacquiao, offered a mix of consistent bodypunching and bullying that is stylistically different than what the Filipino sensation offers.
True, even Margarito's impressive victory over Miguel Cotto in 2008 is now legitimately under question due to what he attempted to do against Mosley, but he's a huge guy relative to the weight class he fights in.
I've been five feet away from in Las Vegas when he was in between bouts, and he looked about 170 pounds, with not much fat on him.
They'll be fighting at up to 154 pounds, and Pacquiao hasn't exactly devastated the two natural 147-pounders he faced with his punches. Joshua Clottey and Oscar De La Hoya mostly just stood there, too helpless in the face of Pacquiao's awesome mix of speed and pop, but they were never really close to going down due to anything other than attrition.
The size difference between Margarito and Pacquiao was readily apparent at the first press stop to announce the fight this week.
Unlike the nearly as large Clottey, Margarito won't be timid. So it means that while the fight lasts, it will be fascinating at worst and quite entertaining at best.
I don't buy for a minute Margarito's excuse that he was clueless as to what Capetillo was doing with his wraps.
It brought up the spectre of the Luis Resto-Billy Collins bout in 1983 on the undercard of Roberto Duran-Davey Moore, one of the lowest moments for the sport (although it must be pointed out for accuracy that the padding of the gloves were removed in that case).
And it seems bizarre to me that someone like NFLer Plaxico Burress serves a full term for an offence that ultimately didn't harm anyone but himself, while Margarito and Capetillo never even faced criminal charges. The fact they were caught before damage could be done, or that Mosley and trainer Nazim Richardson - who caught the infraction - kicked their butts, shouldn't matter.
Neither should the probability that others before him probably did the same with hand wraps in the past (there have been rumours about a few world class fighters).
But I just fail to understand why he should be given the permanent scarlet letter when someone like Mike Tyson is treated with a mixture of pathos or like that crazy uncle you shake your head at, not wholesale disgust. Aside from the things he allegedly did outside of the ring - he bit a man's ear off, pushed a referee out of the way to continue pounding a semi-conscious foe, legitimately tried to break another's arm, bit a man at a press conference, etc.
But he kept getting chance after chance.
Margarito will be forever besmirched by that night in Los Angeles but if he loses in Dallas it won't be poetic justice, and if he wins it won't be a disgrace to boxing. It will be a fair and square fight between two aggressive punchers.
Remember, Bob Arum promotes both guys. He had power to steer Pacquiao - who believes Margarito knew about the wraps - to a nobler foe, but never showed the inclination.
The bout will take place at Cowboys Stadium, and could draw 60-70,000 people, potentially the biggest outdoor crowd in modern U.S. history if the weather co-operates.
Pacquiao drew 50,000 for Joshua Clottey at the same venue in March, a fighter from Ghana who lives in New York City. Margarito will draw from the state's Hispanic fan base.
But apparently boxing is dead if you listen to the exceedingly Caucasian MMA fan base in Canada, who assume the rest of the world resembles the exceedingly Caucasian MMA fan base of Canada. (On that note, Pacquiao, whose name has barely ever even been mentioned on the national sports channel and whose offerings primarily consist of MMA, poker and darts, has ranked in the top 10 of the Forbes richest athlete list the last two years, with nary a single UFCer or their ilk remotely close to the list).
Pascal gets B-Hop
I will admit to surprise that the Jean Pascal-Bernard Hopkins fight has apparently come to fruition, for Dec. 18 in Quebec City.
When the fight was first mentioned as a possibility in the wake of Pascal's 11-round technical decision win on Aug. 14 in Montreal over previously unbeaten Chad Dawson, I just didn't think it would be economically feasible.
But it's a sign of how desperate Hopkins is, at 45, to continue to add young scalps to his resume, even though his status as a boxing legend is secure.
Hopkins made $3.5 million US at minimum for his ugly win over fellow geriatric Roy Jones Jr. in April, and more than that my most account for handing Kelly Pavlik his first loss in late 2008.
I figured he'd price himself out of a Pascal bout, but apparently not. Financial information isn't yet available but he's not going to make that much this time around, and even HBO has tired of his late-career shenanigans, which have involved too much clinching as well as the milking of every perceived foul inflicted upon him. The network apparently has no interest in airing Pascal-Hopkins in the U.S.
I actually see this bout as a no-win proposition for Pascal. Adding a scalp like Hopkins to his ledger on the surface would be tremendous - if his promoters make the bout readily available outside of Quebec. Many disappointed fans in English Canada had to resort to finding a stream on the internet to view the bout live, and that's just not acceptable.
I also believe Hopkins' craftiness will be troublesome, both in aesthetic terms and with respect to the ultimate result. Pascal's every punch will be met with a roar from the crowd, but he'll have to curb the awkward lunges or else a counter right could put him on his backside. I also think Pascal will have to refrain from his occasionally winging body shots.
I believe Pascal's busy style will hold sway for a decision, but I don't believe he'll the first to be able to say he beat up Hopkins.
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