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Manny Pacquiao will fight Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13 for a vacant super welterweight championship, either in Las Vegas if Margarito can get licensed or in Monterrey, Mexico, if he can't, promoter Bob Arum said.
That ends any possibility of a match between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., the top two boxers in the world, for 2010.
Arum said he decided to choose Margarito instead of Miguel Cotto, whom Pacquiao stopped in the 12th round in November, because it would be perceived as a more competitive bout. The bout will be offered on HBO Pay-Per-View.
"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 by telephone from his vacation home in Los Angeles. "But 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.
"Margarito knows only one way to fight and that's coming forward. They're going to get in there and fight. That's what people want to see."
Margarito's hand-wrap controversy is no minor matter, however. He was caught with a hardened substance in his knuckle pad prior to a Jan. 24, 2009, fight in California against Shane Mosley.
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He was forced to re-wrap his hands and was knocked out in the ninth round by Mosley. In February 2009, he was suspended for a year by the California State Athletic Commission.
He fought once since the Mosley fight, winning a lackluster unanimous decision over Roberto Garcia.
He applied for a license in Nevada on July 9, but by a 4-1 vote, the Nevada Athletic Commission tabled the matter and told Margarito to return to California. Arum said Margarito will file paperwork with California on Monday.
If Nevada grants Margarito a license, Arum said the fight would be in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. If not, it is all but certain to wind up at a 22,000-seat arena in Monterrey, Mexico, though a group from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is also bidding for the fight.
Skip Avansino, a member of the Nevada commission, said he thinks California regulators should consider it first, even though Margarito doesn't plan to fight there. The California commission knows the matter best, Avansino said.
Avansino wasn't willing to speculate what would occur if California were to decline taking up his request, given he doesn't have a fight planned in the state.
"He certainly deserves a decision," Avansino said. "I don't know what procedures California will consider in connection with his reapplication. I would think that they would consider his application appropriately, just as we would, but I would want to wait until I see what California decides."
Avansino said he wouldn't be swayed by the huge economic impact the fight would have upon the depressed Las Vegas economy.
Pacquiao is a huge draw in Las Vegas and is one of the few boxers who attracts high-rolling Asian gamblers, who play $25,000-a-hand blackjack as well as baccarat. Las Vegas casinos had their best night in two years Nov. 14, 2009, when Pacquiao fought Cotto, because of the large influx of high-rollers who flooded Las Vegas, according to analysis by the Nevada Gaming Commission.
"I'm mindful of the economic conditions in the state of Nevada and I understand them well," Avansino said. "I have every interest to improve and help improve the economy in this state. But as a commission, my responsibility is to protect the health and safety of those who compete in our state and to uphold the integrity of the sport. That's my primary responsibility."
The match would be for the World Boxing Council super welterweight championship. If Pacquiao wins it, it would be either the seventh or eighth division in which he has held a title, depending upon how it is calculated.
He has won sanctioning body titles at 112, 122, 130, 135, 140 and 147 pounds. At 126 pounds, he beat Marco Antonio Barrera, who was the linear champion. But Barrera had surrendered all of his sanctioning body titles by the time he fought Pacquiao, though he had not been beaten.
- Antonio Margarito
- Manny Pacquiao
- Las Vegas
- Miguel Cotto