Pacquiao-Margarito fight will happen outside of Nevada


Manny Pacquiao's next fight will not be in Las Vegas after all.

Giving up on getting opponent Antonio Margarito licensed in Nevada in a timely manner, Top Rank is moving the scheduled Nov. 13 junior middleweight fight from the MGM Grand Garden, most likely to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters, on Friday withdrew his request to have Margarito apply for a license at the Aug. 9 meeting of the Nevada Athletic Commission.

"Because time is running out, we can't wait for Nevada to make a decision, so we have to think about moving the fight elsewhere," Arum said.

Before the fight is officially ticketed for Texas, Margarito will appear Aug. 18 at a special hearing before the California State Athletic Commission, which revoked his license and handed him a one-year suspension that ended Feb. 10.

The penalties were assessed because hard inserts were found inside Margarito's hand wraps before his fight against Shane Mosley in Los Angeles on Jan. 24, 2009.

Margarito appeared before the Nevada commission July 9 and his license request was tabled by a 4-1 vote, with chairperson Pat Lundvall the lone dissenter. The majority told Margarito to first resolve his licensing problem in California, then re-apply in Nevada.

"The commission, other than Pat, have other views. We decided we can't engage them in trying to change their views, so we're taking (the fight) elsewhere," Arum said.

Nevada commission executive director Keith Kizer said he notified the commissioners of Arum's intentions by e-mail.

"He said he didn't want to wait. That's his call," Kizer said. "Obviously you have to have both fighters licensed to fight here, and I don't know that the commission would have put (Margarito) on the (Aug. 9) agenda."

Lundvall said: "I'm very disappointed that the state of Nevada didn't have the opportunity to bring a fight of this magnitude and this caliber to Las Vegas. Las Vegas is where this fight should have been held."

The loss of Pacquiao-Margarito will probably cost Las Vegas millions in unrealized gaming and nongaming revenue. MGM officials would not comment on Arum's decision to move the fight.

Cowboys Stadium, which hosted Pacquiao's most recent fight March 13, when he soundly beat Joshua Clottey before 50,000 fans, is available on Nov. 13. The Cowboys are away that weekend, playing Nov. 14 at the New York Giants.

Arum said he has talked to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones about hosting the fight but that other venues are interested.

"New York wants it. New Jersey wants it. Seattle wants it," Arum said. "But let's see what happens in California first."

According to Arum, the Association of Boxing Commissions will announce Aug. 19 -- the day after Margarito's California hearing -- whether other states can move forward to license him.

"It's a unique situation," Kizer said. "Obviously, the incident in California was a very serious one, and the commission treated it as such. If and when Mr. Margarito comes before the (NAC) again, I'm sure it will be a very serious hearing and they'll have to make a decision as to what to do.

"What happened in California was horrible, regardless of who was to blame for it -- whether it's one guy, two guys, or more than both guys -- it's a horrible situation. That's why he got the stiffest penalty possible by the California commission. This isn't something that's going to go away. This is going to haunt him the rest of his career -- as it should. Whether he can meet his burden is a different story."

However, Kizer said he understood Arum's position.

"Some of these big fights take months and months of preparation and promotion to happen, especially with a fighter (Margarito) who hasn't won a fight of significance in nearly two years," Kizer said. "I think most promoters, if not all promoters, would say their No. 1 choice is Las Vegas. We've certainly seen that over the last 20 years. But sometimes things don't go their way and they have to go to Plan B or Plan C."

Arum said he has plans for a Dec. 4 card that would feature Miguel Cotto facing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in the main event. He would like to hold that fight in Las Vegas but said he has not made an offer to MGM officials.

"We don't have (Pacquiao-Margarito) for Nevada, so we have to think about another fight," Arum said.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

 

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