LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - While happy to give disgraced boxer Antonio Margarito another chance in the ring, Manny Pacquiao refuses to believe the Mexican was ignorant of his illegal hand wraps before a fight in January 2009.
Filipino Pacquiao has requested that two of his own representatives monitor Margarito’s hands being wrapped before their November 13 super welterweight title fight at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
It will be the Mexican’s first appearance in the ring since he and trainer Javier Capetillo were banned for a year after plaster-like bandage wraps were found in the fighter’s gloves before a WBC welterweight title bout with Shane Mosley.
“Of course he knew that (he had illegal wraps),” Pacquiao, 51-3-2 (38 knockouts), told Reuters after he and Margarito held a joint news conference at Beverly Hills Hotel on Tuesday.
“He is just making alibis but it’s unfair to him that we don’t give him another chance (to fight). He badly wants to fight again and to entertain people.”
Pacquiao, who will be competing for an eighth world title in an unprecedented eighth weight class, said he was not bothered by what had happened in the past.
“That doesn’t concern me,” said the southpaw, widely considered the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter. “We will give him one chance to prove he is not doing bad. We are just human, we are not perfect.
“But I am requesting that two people watch them bandage his hands (before the November 13 fight).”
Pacquiao’s special request posed no problem for Roberto Garcia, who has taken over as Margarito’s trainer.
“I know the wrapping that I do and every single time the commissioners have always congratulated me for the good job that I do,” Garcia told reporters. “I have no problem with Manny himself being there when I am wrapping.”
Three-times world champion Margarito, who was denied a license to fight in California by the state’s athletic commission earlier this month before being reprieved by the Texas commission, was reluctant to talk about his 2009 fight.
“Everything that has happened is in the past,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “We are now in the present. It’s time to show everyone I’m still very good.
“Nobody wants to miss this fight. It’s going to be a great fight. I also want to thank the commission of Texas for re-licensing me.”
While Margarito preferred to look to the future, the Mexican was given a rousing endorsement by boxing promoter and former lawyer Bob Arum at Tuesday’s news conference.
“Antonio Margarito did not know those hand wraps were illegal,” said Arum, who is promoting both fighters for the November bout. “There hasn’t been a shred of proof. Lack of evidence means there shouldn’t have been any penalty in the first place.
“Boxing writers have said: ‘He must have known’. Well, five top trainers were interviewed and all of them said they could put a bad pad in hand wraps and the fighter would never know.”
Regardless of what Margarito did or did not know about his hand wraps in January 2009, he is certain to provide Pacquiao with a stiff challenge on November 13.
The Mexican (38-6, 27 KOs) holds a significant height and weight advantage over the Filipino and is known for his brutal training regimes and his aggressive style.
“He’s stronger and bigger than me so I have to seriously focus and study all of his style,” said Pacquiao, who won a seat in his country’s national congress since beating Ghanaian Joshua Clottey in his most recent fight in March.
“But I don’t need to prove any more in boxing, I have already achieved what I wanted in boxing. What I want right now is to maintain my greatness in boxing and to entertain the people.”
Editing by Ian Ransom
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