ARLINGTON, Texas (Reuters) - Antonio Margarito’s trainer Robert Garcia has apologized for an internet video in which two of his fighters appear to mock the Parkinson’s disease suffered by Manny Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach.
Garcia’s public apology, later described as a cover-up by Roach, overshadowed a news conference held jointly by Margarito and seven-times world champion Pacquiao on Wednesday in the build-up to their November 13 super welterweight bout.
After being introduced on a raised stage by promoter Bob Arum at Cowboys Stadium, the fight venue, Garcia said he wanted to clear something up “before it gets any bigger”.
The trainer then added: “Earlier today there was a video posted up on YouTube about two of my fighters joking around making fun of Freddie Roach.
“This was nothing to do with the disease that Freddie Roach has. We know it’s something that we don’t wish on anybody. I would never allow (talk of) that in my gym.”
The video, posted on several internet sites before being taken down, showed Margarito, Garcia and fighter Brandon Rios apparently making fun of Roach’s Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
Margarito aped Roach’s involuntary twitches by shaking his arms and Rios stuttered the words “Manny Pacquiao” before Garcia said to Rios: “Hey, there’s Freddie Roach”.
While issuing his apology during Wednesday’s pre-fight news conference, Garcia described the video antics as “something personal, something between Team Pacquiao and Team Margarito”.
He added: “When I told Brandon Rios this morning that (the video) was out there, that everyone was thinking that we were making fun of people with that disease, he was surprised.
“And I said: ‘Well, the disease that Freddie Roach has.’ He didn’t even know Freddie Roach had a disease.”
Roach, who controls his symptoms through medication and by training with his boxers, rejected Garcia’s apology.
“He doesn’t I know I have Parkinson’s and all of that?” Roach told reporters. “Please. It wasn’t really an apology. It was just a cover-up.”
Garcia said later he would personally apologize to Roach only after Saturday’s fight.
“I apologize for what my fighters did but right now, I don’t want to go to him (Roach) personally,” Garcia told reporters. “Right now we are fighting against each other. Right now, we are enemies.
“I want to win the fight and he wants to win the fight. But right after the fight, win or lose, I am going to go up to Freddie Roach and I am going to apologize to him and ... give him all the respect that I’ve always given him.”
The war of words between Garcia and Roach added unexpected spice to a news conference in which Pacquiao and Margarito were upbeat in a very measured way about Saturday’s fight.
Filipino Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs), who will be competing for an eighth world title in an unprecedented eighth weight class, said he expected a strong challenge from the much bigger Mexican.
“This is the fight I have been waiting for,” said Pacquiao, who wore a black suit, a purple tie and a white shirt. “He is a very aggressive fighter and throws a lot of punches, and that is what I want in the fighter I am going to fight.”
Three-times world champion Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs), casually dressed in a long-sleeved black shirt and blue jeans, said he had never been in better shape.
“This is my best camp ever,” added the Mexican, who also wore sunglasses. “I want to show everyone that I am back and what I can do on Saturday night. The time is here ... you will have a new Mexican champion on the 13th.”
Editing by Frank Pingue