Thursday, November 11, 2010
ARLINGTON – The relative civility of Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito fight week was disrupted Wednesday with the circulation of a YouTube video showing Margarito and Brandon Rios, an undercard fighter from Lubbock, apparently mocking Freddie Roach.
Roach is Pacquiao's trainer, whose battle with Parkinson's disease has been well documented in the boxing world. Like actor Michael J. Fox, who is also afflicted with the disease, Roach's hands and head often shake and his speech slurs.
The video was apparently shot in the California gym of Robert Garcia, trainer of Margarito and Rios. It was distributed by a member of the Pacquiao camp.
In the video, which was taken down later in the day, Margarito, his hands trembling, mentions Roach. That is followed by Rios speaking about Roach with his head violently shaking.
No one could address the timing of the video's release but it did bring notoriety to the event, which never seems to hurt boxing ticket sales or pay-per-view buys.
Roach consistently has said Margarito had to know his hand wraps were loaded with an illegal substance before his January 2009 bout against Shane Mosley in Los Angeles . The plaster of Paris insert was removed before the fight. Margarito accused his then-trainer of trying to perpetrate a crime without his knowledge.
The California State Athletic Commission suspended Margarito and the trainer and has refused to re-license Margarito. That ultimately moved the fight to Texas, which welcomed it with open arms.
"They stooped kind of low this time," Roach said before Wednesday's Cowboys Stadium news conference to hype Saturday night's fight. "They showed their true colors."
At the news conference, Garcia said the fighters' antics had nothing to do with the disease.
"This is something personal between Team Margarito and Team Pacquiao," he said.
Said Margarito: "I respect the man. If you look at the video, I did not ridicule him. I only reacted as if I was afraid. I don't need to mock him, much less about that condition, nor any other illness."
Pacquiao said he had not seen the video but didn't appreciate his trainer being mocked.
"To me, it's not good," Pacquiao said. "You have to respect people. I don't like personal attacks."
WBC head a Cowboys fan: Mexico's Jose Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council – the sanctioning body for the 154-pound title fight – used a sliver of his time on the news conference podium to proclaim his loyalty to the Cowboys.
"I am a Cowboy by heart," he said. "My family, we cry when they lose and get drunk when they win."
Megafight? HBO officials won't be delighted to hear that promoter Bob Arum predicted pay-per-view buys will be "way over 1.2 million" in sales. Arum said he has not seen any data but was basing his number on prefight "buzz and exposure."
HBO prefers to speak in more nebulous terms, but Mark Taffet, who runs the cable network's pay-per-view division, labeled Pacquiao-Margarito a "megafight," which HBO defines as a fight with more than 1 million buys.
Briefly: Arum introduced William Kuntz, the executive director of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, as "a real American. A man who stands up for principle." Kuntz, of course, was responsible for licensing Margarito days after California's refusal. ... After the news conference, visiting media peppered Arum with questions about the seating configuration and sale of party passes for the fight. Arum threw up his hands and said he couldn't answer the questions. "Last time, Jerry [Jones] was with me every step of the way," Arum said. "He handled those things. I just don't know." Jones has been noticeably absent from the fight scene, preferring to attend to his 1-7 team and other football business. ... The Cowboys cheerleaders escorted both fighters to the news conference, prompting someone in the crowd to "thank the heavens the cheerleaders look better than their team."