Margarito's license request greeted by Texas hospitality
Antonio Margarito's request to have his boxing license reinstated by the California commission that originally revoked it when it was found he had plaster-caked inserts inside both of his hand wraps before a title fight last year was denied last week, with commissioners telling him they wouldn't consider his request again until next year.
Unlike California, Texas has the opportunity to profit from Margarito's next fight, to the likely tune of 75,000 people in Cowboys Stadium in a Nov. 13 super-welterweight title fight against the world's most popular boxer, Manny Pacquiao.
So although California didn't hesitate to give Margarito grief over a bundle of reasons, down to his lack of a sparring permit (a misstep the state doesn't enforce in other cases), Texas is poised to loosely reinstate Margarito without a hearing by the end of the week.
According to sources close to the negotiation, Texas authorities have all the information they need to reinstate Margarito in the form of a letter the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation's head of combat sports requested from the Assn. of Boxing Commissions.
In the four-paragraph letter, ABC President Timothy Lueckenhoff and other board members advised to state commissions that "Margarito has fulfilled his obligations" to appear before California before seeking a license elsewhere "and thus he is now free to pursue licensure with any ABC member commission. There is nothing under the federal law that would prohibit consideration for licensure."
Dickie Cole, Texas' program manager of combat sports, told The Times this week that in his personal opinion, "If a man serves his time for his crime, he's served his time and needs to be released."
Cole won't personally decide Margarito's fate, but he has worked behind the scenes to assist Margarito promoter Bob Arum and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in their effort to place the fight in Texas.
Cole, 79, went further in defending Margarito's reinstatement, assessing that though Margarito broke rules forbidding the presence of foreign material in hand wraps, the tainted knuckle pads might have been there only to protect Margarito's hands.
"My personal opinion is what he had on his hands doesn't give you any advantage over an opponent," Cole said. "Do I personally think it'd help his hands or be detrimental to his opponent? No. It'd have no effect on his punching power. I wonder how many of those [California] commissioners ever had a hand wrapped before."
Cole noted that "the only gentleman on that committee who's been involved in boxing [John Frierson] voted to give [Margarito] the license. The others are just political appointees who don't really know the sport."
Cole's point is that Margarito would've gotten "spanked" in Texas too, but that he's been sufficiently punished by being held out of fighting in the U.S. for more than 17 months, "has a family to care for," and deserves to be reinstated because he's denied knowing the plaster inserts were inside his wraps in the first place.
"I'm not a policeman," Cole said, "but it appeared the evidence against him was weak. I don't think the kid is a bad person. Now, technically, he's legally able to fight here."
Margarito's team hasn''t sent a similar license request to Nevada. But for the sake of maintaining a positive relationship, Pacquiao's manager, Michael Koncz, had discussions Tuesday with MGM/Mirage officials and Keith Kizer, executive officer of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, to let them know Pacquiao is deeply appreciative of their past involvement in his fights.
"He told me Manny wants to fight in Las Vegas, and nowhere else," Kizer said.
Koncz said he realizes the fight against Margarito appears bound for Texas, but he wanted to express that, "Manny likes the city of Las Vegas, how they've always treated him well there, especially Mandalay Bay bending over backward for him. I can't force Margarito to apply here, but I've expressed Manny's thoughts, of how, if we had a choice, we'd fight here. But we have no complaints over Dallas."
Continuing the theme of this fight, Koncz was just playing politics.
-- Lance Pugmire