According to the AP, the commission also suspended the license of Margarito's trainer, Javier Capetillo. The two men are to appear at a hearing on Feb. 10. By that time, the commission figures to have conclusively determined if the extra material (which has been described as “gauze-like plaster”) taken from Margarito’s handwraps before he entered the ring against Mosley were actually legal within the regulations of the commission, or were in fact devices meant to aid Margarito’s punching power.
The California Department of Justice is in charge of evaluating all materials confiscated from Margarito, the commission told the AP.
The California State Athletic Commission took the hand wraps and a faulty “pad’’ found in one of them from Antonio Margarito prior to Saturday night’s knockout loss to Shane Mosley after Mosley’s chief second, Nazim Richardson, complained about the amount of tape on one hand and of a lump in the wrap. A commission inspector agreed and ordered the wrap be removed and Margarito’s hand re-wrapped.
It was then that Mosley’s camp claims a foreign substance was found underneath the tape on a wet hand wrap that, they say, was beginning to harden. Mosley’s physician, Dr. Robert Olvera, claims it was a suspicious substance similar to what is used to make a cast. Stephen Espinoza, an attorney for Golden Boy Promotions, also claimed the fouled hand wrap had a plaster-like substance on it and was beginning to harden.
Margarito’s camp, led by co-managers Francisco Espinoza and Sergio Diaz, both claim the issue has been blown out of proportion and that the problem was simply that the tape was too high. When Diaz was told Mosley’s camp has claimed the gauze had been dipped in plaster and meant to harden under the tape, he said, “No way.’’
The California Commission remains mum through all this, thus allowing speculation and doubt to grow not only over the validity of the charges but also over what they were doing when they were supposed to be observing the wrapping of Margarito’s hands.
First off, the wrapping should not have started until Richardson arrived unless someone from Mosley’s camp advised the commission they would waive watching the hand wrapping. Obviously that was not the case. Second, and perhaps more importantly, why wasn’t the commission’s observer A) telling them to wait until Mosley’s representative arrived or B) catching himself the problem Richardson pointed out?
What’s the point of having regulations if they aren’t fully enforced? What’s the point of having inspectors signing the hand wraps if they don’t pay attention to what’s going on when the hands are being wrapped?
If the wrap in question was wet, how did the commission not notice? If there was a foreign substance, as Mosley’s people claim, on the wrap how is it no one from the commission saw it? Most importantly, how does a wet hand wrap get put on Margarito’s hand in the first place if the CSAC inspector is doing his job?
What that all brings to mind is a concern that this now turns into a whitewash rather than a search for the truth because if there was an illegal substance on the wrap, whether to add punching power or simply to try and protect Margarito’s hand, how did it go unnoticed in the first place?
Was his hand partially wrapped with gauze and tape before even the commission inspector arrived? Was someone there but failing to do their job? And why did it take Nazim Richardson, Mosley’s trainer, to spot the problem and bring it to the commission’s attention?
All those questions also raise a far larger one – how often might something similar or worse go on in California in smaller fights where far less attention is being paid and where often no representative from the other fighter is in the locker room to observe the hand wrapping process?
Francisco Espinoza, Margartio’s co-manager, told a Mexican newspaper, Primera Hora, that the gauze had been prepared several weeks ago with a wet cloth that caused it to become humid and harden. Huh?
Normally if gauze gets wet it doesn’t harden. It softens. Unless, of course, someone loads it with something like plaster of Paris or whatever is used these days to make casts. Then, I would assume, it would harden aplenty.
Of course, if that was the case, then it would also be illegal now wouldn’t it and if so, what’s the commission waiting for?
One wild card in all this was Diaz’s claim Monday night that while they had not broken any rules in the wrapping of Margarito’s hands, their fighter had undergone EYE SURGERY just over a week before the right to repair a condition Diaz claimed could have resulted in a detached retina if Margarito fought with it.
Makes you wonder if there even IS a California State Athletic Commission. We all understand the budget is tight in California these days but how do you miss wet hand wraps and possibly plaster of Paris hardening on those wraps, allow the guy to begin wrapping his hands in the first place before Mosley’s representative shows up and also miss the fact the same fighter had eye surgery a week or so before the fight?
Anything else they missed?
At the moment, the fouled wraps and whatever is on them, is somewhere in Sacramento, the state capitol, where an investigation is supposedly going on. Meanwhile, in San Juan on Wednesday, Margarito’s recent victim, former champion Miguel Cotto, will hold a press conference very likely to demand the circumstances around his own bloody loss to Margarito be looked into.
A statement from Cotto called for a full investigation and that Margarito be held responsible if something illegal is found. Cotto may have a point and it’s understandable why he might be skeptical but he also got hit about 2000 times in that fight, it seemed, so that probably had something to do with the damage he suffered and is really a red herring when it comes to Plastergate.
This all led Teddy Atlas, ESPN2 boxing analyst and a long-time advocate for a national boxing commission, to remark Monday night that, “This makes you worry about the lack of policing in boxing. California has all kinds of problems with its commission.’’
Considering that in June, 2005 the same commission allowed a boxer to fight in Ontario, Ca., without a clear HIV test and that fighter was later found to have tested positive for the HIV virus that would seem to be an understatement.
“This is why boxing needs a national commission, national conformity to one set of regulations and enforcement power,’’ Atlas said. “You don’t just need standards. We’ve got standards. It’s the ability to enforce them.
“Why are we still wondering two days after the fight if one guy was endangering the other with an illegal hand wrap? They say the wrap was wet. Wet? That’s not normal. That doesn’t conform to the rules and it doesn’t sound too good.
“They only caught it, if it’s anything, because a non-commission guy, Mosley’s trainer, caught it. That doesn’t inspire confidence.
“It’s a little ridiculous. You have the right to watch a guy’s hands being wrapped and then they let them start wrapping before you get in there? Who’s watching the store? It’s absurd. It hurts the sport.
“Then when they find a problem the fighter doesn’t even have to make up an alibi. They just re-wrap and he goes off and fights. What other sport would allow that?’’
Over the next few months I look forward to sharing the stories of these two fighters with the readers of the Sweet Science, and I look forward to hearing from any and all of you. --KS
At the bell, Otis Griffin came forward first, and threw an imprecise left hook. Mike Simms stepped away from it, certainly not bouncing on his toes, but boxing the smaller man. Throughout the first round of sparring, he neutralized Griffin's attack, jabbing his way outside. By the way Griffin continued to press forward, though, it was clear that his cardio was superior. He threw a series of combinations but failed to land anything with much authority. Late in the round Simms backed Griffin into the ropes and landed a hard left hook to the body, to which he added a stiff, straight right to Griffin's forehead. After the bell Simms leaned over the ropes and stared out the roll-up door at the rear of the gym that had been raised to let in a breeze. Griffin stood with Eric Regan who gave him a sip of water and suggested that he continue to press forward against Simms. One of the Marines from the recruitment center next door to Nasser Niavaroni's had walked back to the ring and was standing with his arms crossed. When he had finished with Griffin, Regan asked, "Can I help you?"
"I just got kicked out of the office," said the Marine. "I thought I'd come over and watch the boxers."
In the second round I felt that Simms' footwork was more deliberate and intelligent than it had been in the first. He would stick Griffin with a right jab, or cross over with a straight left, and Griffin couldn't gain enough composure to found any offense. Simms kept a high left hand when he jabbed, and that forced Griffin to go to the body, where he landed two left hooks to Simms' right oblique. They tied up after that, and without a referee to separate them, Simms escorted Griffin to the ropes, where he threw the first truly malicious punches of the morning. He landed a right and a left consecutively to Griffin's head, then disengaged. But as he danced back outside he reminded Griffin of their embrace by stinging him with a jab and a left. The buzzer signaling thirty seconds left in the round sounded, and Simms, visibly tired already, had to accept two impetuous rights from Griffin that, had he not been wearing his headgear, might have wobbled him.
In the second break Regan tended to Simms. "Keep finishing with the left," he said.
In the third, Griffin reintroduced himself as the aggressor, but it was Simms who continued to land the cleanest punches, including a short left uppercut that lighted on Griffin's chin. Griffin seemed relatively undaunted, though, and pressed forward as Regan had instructed him to do four minutes earlier. Griffin pushed Simms back into the ropes, and I felt a breeze of anticipation. Simms had said that he liked to attack off the ropes, and I watched to see if he could find an exploitable opening in Griffin's defense. He didn't. Instead he accepted a flurry of punches to the body. Eventually he dislodged himself and backed into the corner where I was standing. There he strung together a good series of punches, lefts and rights, that continually caught Griffin on the temples. I wondered if he were showing off, or if he knew the round was nearly over and needed, were there judges present, to impress them.
The fourth round, if you were cheering for Simms, was not lovely to watch. Simms seemed exhausted, and he kept his guard up with his elbows fastened to his sides, inviting whatever punches Griffin cared to throw. And Griffin cared to throw plenty. He caught Simms with two right uppercuts from the inside, and two solid, alternating, three punch combinations. Simms appeared to be resting, but boxing is not a sport suited to stationary recuperation. He was forced, late in the round, to latch onto Griffin. And then as if to distract the three observers—myself, Eric Regan, and the Marine—Simms threw a hard, low, left hook to Griffin's liver, but none of us were persuaded to donate him the round.
The fifth round began as the last had transpired, with Simms plodding around the ring backwards, singularly egressive. Regan seemed frustrated, even bored with Simms performance, and he yelled, "I'm the old judge. I just woke up. Who's winning?" Simms, rather than the hypothetical judge, seemed to wake up, as if in the first half-round he'd been thinking about something else—perhaps his child support payments. With his newly unearthed focus Simms put together the best combination of the bout, but Griffin shrugged it off. At the end of the round he had Simms against the ropes again where he landed a final, hard right to the cheek.
The sixth was a dramatic round, insofar as it was dynamic, with the boxers exchanging ownership of one another. Griffin came in with combinations, using a hard right hook on the inside to oppress Simms. But then Simms overthrew him, using his size to muscle Griffin around the ring, hooking Griffin as he pressed with alternating shots to the body. They arrived, ultimately, in my corner again, and Simms landed a left to the body and a right to the head that convinced Simms to hold on until the bell reprieved him.
After the fight there were no stools and Simms crouched in the rear of the ring, facing the alley, with his hands over his face, almost as if he were praying—or crying. I highly doubt he was doing either. After awhile he stood up and walked over to where Regan and Griffin stood near my corner, and crouched down again. Regan took off Griffin's gloves first, and when he took off Simms', Simms said, "How long before a fight can I get a massage? I know it drains you. Turns you to jelly."
"Maybe two or three days before," said Regan. "It's different for everybody."
I stood around at the front of the gym, waiting for the fighters to change. A young man came in with a large box and set it on the counter. Regan had come up to the front desk to answer a phone call, and when he hung up he opened it. It was full of cookies, and he took out one container of them and handed it to me. "Give these to your mother," he said. It was Mother's Day the following Sunday. "Don't eat them all yourself." I thanked him and told him I would be back in the morning.
"Tell Simms that I'll see him at 9:00," I said.
When I returned the following day at 9:30AM, the gym was open. The silver Isuzu was parked in front as it had been the day before. Inside Simms was standing by the ring in a sweatshirt and shorts. He had not wrapped his hands. At the front desk was a man in a Stanford hat, who, judging by the strident tone of his voice, was Nasser Niavaroni. He was at least talking loud enough that he appeared to own the place. Simms came towards me and we shook hands, but he looked melancholy. I turned then to Niavaroni, and listened to what he was saying into the phone.
"So he gets new blood work done for his last license, which is still good," Nasser was saying, "but because he has to redo the license maybe it's better to get more blood work? He just got a full medical clearance for his last fight, and that was less than two months ago." He paused for a response and then added, "Okay, yeah, that's crazy. All right. Thanks, Lilly."
I looked at Simms and knew immediately by the look on his face that the party in question, who needed new blood work, was Simms himself.
"Michael, don't just stand there," said Niavaroni. "Get your s--t together."
"I don't understand what just happened," said Simms.
"What good are you doing standing with your arms crossed?" Niavaroni said to Simms. This was obviously a rhetorical question. "You've got to get more blood work, period. That's what it is: a dictatorship. You've got to have blood work. You don't have it, you don't fight. I really don't care. I might cancel the show today. Don't worry about it."
"We got a shitty commission," said Simms.
Nasser had passed from frustration almost into complacency. "Yeah, we do."
I followed Mike across the gym to the ring where Ezra Regan was sitting on the mat having finished his three hundred sit-ups. Simms knelt down in front of his bag, took out his wrap, and began winding his hands as he talked. "They screwing so much stuff up down there." I think he was referring to the Sacramento boxing commission. "It's ridiculous."
I asked him if the fight were in jeopardy of being cancelled, and he said, "This February I got my blood work done, and when you get it done it's good for a whole year. And every couple of years you got to get the eyes. Even after the fight here I went and fought in Russia, and everything that was done here was good there."
Ezra, as had everyone else in the gym, had heard Niavaroni yelling at Lilly, and knew that the fight was, apparently, on the verge of being terminated. "You got to do what they say," he said. "Don't even waste your energy on it."
But Simms seemed as if he wanted to waste a little more energy on it. "I think they trying to kill boxing in Sacramento, in my opinion. Think I'll have to try cage fighting. I mean Nasser just told her he'd submitted the fight card, who's on the fight card. Why are you all just now, a few days before weigh-ins, letting me know I need blood work? They should have had it checked out way ahead of time. This close to weigh-ins and they're making everybody jump through hurdles." Jumping through a hurdle, rather than over one, it occurred to me, was probably more difficult.
"That's to be expected," said Ezra. "They try to do stuff like that all the time."
I asked Simms if he planned to spar, and he told me that he had to go try and get his blood work done. I wondered then why he'd wrapped his hands if he was leaving the gym, but I shook his hand instead and left. On the way out I asked Niavaroni if he really thought the fight would be cancelled.
TSS reached out to Berto to see if a sequel would be forthcoming, and asked him to grade himself on his outing.
“I give myself a ‘C’,” said the 25-year-old Floridian with a 24-0 record. “I didn’t perform like I normally do. I had some issues pop up a few days before the fight so I wasn’t myself.”
TSS prodded Berto, and pleaded with him to define “issues.” What, Beyonce kidnapped you and locked you in a hotel room with her for three days and looong nights? What?
“I had the flu,” he said after a hesitation. “And I don’t want to come off like it’s an excuse. But in the fight, I showed I can dig down.”
Berto said he wasn’t worried as the cards were being tabulated that Collazo had taken his WBC strap. “Nah, I thought I had it,” he said.
The New Yorker Collazo has been out and about in the last week or so, announcing that he thinks he won the fight, and that the decision was severely off. Berto was surprised by that stance: “I was kind of disappointed, because I gave him a lot of props after the fight. But then he went back to New York, and people gassed him up.”
So, will we see a rematch?
“My pride says rematch,” Berto said. “I’d like to shut him and the critics up. If I went in healthy most likely I’d stop him. But business-wise, we may move forward onto bigger and better things.”
Berto said HBO has set aside a date in May for him.
As for that ‘C’ grade, Berto acknowledges he made the fight much harder than it needed to be. “If I stayed outside, all day I would have been fine. But I was sluggish, mentally as well as physically. Next time, I’m going to be smarter.”
Berto was mightily impressed with Shane Mosley’s dissection of the real life terminator, Antonio “The (Alleged) Master of Plaster” Margarito. “I had told everyone that Mosley would do it.,” Berto said. “I knew Margarito was a pressure fighter but he was extremely slow. I knew Shane had the quickness to smother him.”
Berto would love to scrap with Mosley, he said. “Even before this fight, I wanted to fight Shane,” he said. “He’s so good, and I’ve always been a fan. I’d love to have the opportunity. It’s up to him. He probably wants to go a different route. Either Cotto, or Mayweather, or Pacquiao or Hatton.”
But, just to be sure, Berto said he would be giving Mosley a call, to congratulate him, and maybe plant the seed for a welterweight title consolidation match. And Berto will be sure to chow down on copious Cold-Eze before that one…
A record 20,820 mostly pro-Margarito fans who packed the massive Staples Center saw the Pomona speedster overcome a hostile crowd, 3-1 odds and questionable hand wrapping charges and hand the Tijuana Tornado his first career knockout loss.
It wasn’t supposed to be Margarito (37-6, 27 KOs) on the canvas and now Mosley holds the WBA title.
“You hear about the pressure and his chin but I used his pressure against him,” said Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs). “We had a great game plan.”
An entire boxing world predicted that Margarito would apply pressure on a galloping Mosley, but it never played out that way. Instead the extremely experienced Californian clinched, pushed, bullied and out-speeded his younger opponent with right hand wallops that had the Mexican fighters' head snapped back at least four times a round.
From the very first round it was evident that Margarito was not going to have his usual night. A big right hand counter to the body by Mosley stunned Margarito and put a look of surprise on the Tijuana brawler. Body shots by both fighters were fired but the Pomona fighter landed more effectively in the first round.
“I think something happened the first round. He was too slow. He kept getting caught with the overhand right,” said Javier Capetillo, who trains Margarito.
Mosley effectively landed body shots then smothered Margarito’s rushes in the second round. It was a scene that would replay throughout the fight. Several times Mosley’s head collided with Margarito. Referee Raul Caiz warned them to beware of the head butts.
In the third round Margarito began landing more punches but still took more than he gave as Mosley countered with some blistering right hands to the body and head.
“He’s very powerful but he couldn’t resist my rhythm,” said Mosley, who was rarely caught with any big punches in return. “The jab of Margarito was very hard, however, so I knew not to avoid the big punches.”
Rounds four and five were instant replays of each other as Mosley continued to rock Margarito with right hands to the chin and left hooks to the body. The volume punching that Margarito is known for never took root.
“He (Mosley) did a lot of clinching and I couldn’t get a rhythm,” said Margarito.
Round six began slowly with Mosley looking to find a rest. But in the last 45 seconds the Pomona speedster landed some thunderous right hands that snapped Margarito’s head four times.
Margarito finally found a way to block that deadly right hand of Mosley, but still absorbed a lot of big shots from the challenger. Margarito landed more body punches but took harder shots in return in the seventh round.
To the shock of the Mexican fans that never stopped cheering for their fighter, Mosley dropped Margarito with a blistering array of power shots from all angles in the eighth. Margarito barely got up and luckily the bell rang to save the gutsy fighter.
“Maybe I was too light,” Margarito said of weighing only 145 pounds at the official weighing. “I couldn’t do anything.”
Mosley didn’t waste any time in the ninth, he jumped off his stool moved in and fired a left hook that wobbled Margarito. A flurry of more punches forced Margarito’s corner to throw in the towel as their fighter slumped to the floor at 43 seconds of the round for a Mosley knockout victory.
“I killed Margarito with my own pressure,” said Mosley.
Margarito looked stunned after the fight. He simply shook his head at the ending.
“I just kept getting caught over and over,” Margarito said. “I feel very bad for disappointing the fans.”
Mosley credited his team, especially trainer Nazim Richardson, who also directed Bernard Hopkins' upset over Kelly Pavlik.
It was Richardson who discovered the bizarre hand wrapping and notified California State Athletic officials. Three times Margarito was forced to wrap his hands. The CSAC is investigating the wraps.
Richardson is also the man who discovered the irregular wrappings of Felix Trinidad when he fought Hopkins in September 2001.
The mellow trainer refused to take credit for the victory.
“When you have a good game plan and a very good athlete it’s easy,” Richardson said. “He (Mosley) turned his (Margarito’s) pressure style against him.”
After the fight Dr. Paul Wallace said that he sent Margarito to the local hospital for observation.
Mosley said that if Margarito wants a rematch he’s absolutely willing, and is open to any and all big fights. Maybe a Manny Pacquiao match should he beat Ricky Hatton in May?
Before leaving for the hospital Margarito said that he did not want the fight stopped.
“I wanted to fight more,” said Margarito. “I wanted to keep on going.”
Then he thought about how he lost to Mosley.
“He’s a great champion,” Margarito said of Mosley. “He knows what he is doing.”
Newly signed by Golden Boy Promotions, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero showed why he was such a sought after fighter in quickly destroying veteran boxer Edel Ruiz with a 43-second knockout. A counter left hand by Guerrero to the body left Ruiz gasping for air for more than three minutes after the fight was stopped.
“I’m ready for a championship fight,” said Guerrero who vacated his IBF featherweight title to move up four pounds and fight as a junior lightweight. “There’s no need for another fight to get ready.”
Guerrero barely broke a sweat at the higher weight and feels the added pounds makes him stronger and still faster than most fighters at the weight class.
“Sure I’d love to fight Jorge Linares or anybody,” said Guerrero. “I feel great at this weight.”
Former Russian Olympian Matvey Korobov (3-0, 3 KOs) pounded Indiana’s Jose Florentino (3-4) to the body and forced referee David Mendoza to stop the fight 2:23 of the first round.
A battle between Mexican lightweights ended with Mexico City’s Juan Carlos Salgado (19-0-1, 13 KOs) taking a unanimous decision over Cristian Favela (15-17-6) of Los Mochis after six rounds. Judges scored it 59-55, 60-54, 58-56 for Salgado.
Junior lightweight prospect Jerry Belmontes (6-0) used his speed to out-point Riverside’s Jesus Hernandez (2-4) but didn’t have it easy. The judges scored it 40-36 and 39-37 twice for Belmontes.
Cincinnati’s Adrien Broner (6-0, 5 KOs) arrived with a record for speed and power and discovered against Mexico’s Jose Lugo (10-7-1, 5 KOs) that some guys can take his power. After a blistering first round of punches, a body shot by Lugo forced Broner to take to using his legs to get out of trouble. The judges scored it 59-55, 58-56, 60-54 for Broner in lightweight contest.
A junior middleweight bout between two Mexican middleweights ended in a unanimous decision for Saul Roman (30-5) over Jose Varela (23-5). The judges scored it 80-72, 79-73 twice for Roman.
The first professional boxing card at what is now known as the Blue Horizon was staged in 1961, which doesn’t seem so very long ago when measured against other, longer-vested shrines to the sweet science. But the Brits – not to mention Germans, Italians, Japanese and regular Americans from nearly every state – arrive to see for themselves if this hallowed hall, spiffied up a bit in recent years but still showing its age, is all that they have built it up to be in their minds.
Folks who like a good scrap do tend to become curious when no less an authority than The Ring magazine proclaim boxing’s most famous club venue as the absolute best place in the world to watch a prizefight.
“These English people came by and said they just had to take a look inside, at where the ring would be,” Vernoca Michael, principal owner of the Blue Horizon, said of the visitors who had crossed an ocean to soak in the atmosphere enriched by the memories of a thousand fights and fighters. “They said they had heard so much about this place, they just had to see it for themselves.”
Empty, during daylight hours and without the ring set up in its second-floor main room, the Blue Horizon might not seem so special. The neighborhood isn’t quite as high-crime as more perilous sections of Philadelphia, but it is hardly risk-free, especially after the sun goes down. On fight nights, when 1,200 patrons pack the place, parking is at a premium. Lines for the two bathrooms – one for men, one for women – are long, as are those for the single concession stand. There is heating during the winter, but no climate control during the summer months, when fans are obliged to endure steam-bath conditions.
Once, upon scoring a unanimous, 10-round decision over an equally gassed Miguel Santana in oppressive heat, welterweight “Rockin’” Rodney Moore was asked by a eager, young radio reporter for a local black station if he had any advice for the kids of North Philadelphia.
Moore, whose record 23 appearances there earned him the sobriquet of “King of the Blue Horizon,” gasped for air before responding.
“Yeah, I do,” Moore finally declared. “Never fight in an un-air-conditioned building in August.”
The next day’s hammer headline in the Philadelphia Daily News detailing Moore’s victory simply read, “Swelterweights.”
Outsiders might wonder how such an old mausoleum of a building, with outdated facilities and without even its own parking lot, can command such awe. But only those who have actually watched boxing at the Blue Horizon, be it from the overhanging balconies that are nearly on top of the action or from folding chairs around the ring, can speak to the incomparable sight lines. To watch a fight at the Blue is almost akin to being inside the ropes yourself. The mystique envelops you, takes you back to a time when the blood and sweat of so many fighters consecrated sites like this and gave them meaning. But Miami Beach’s 5th Street Gym, where a young Cassius Clay prepared to slay the dragon that was Sonny Liston, has fallen to the wrecking ball, and Los Angeles’ Olympic Auditorium has been converted into a Korean church.
Nor is Philly, a city that prides itself as the unofficial capitol of American boxing, been spared from history’s eraser. So much of Philadelphia’s sports heritage is being stripped away, layer by layer. The Spectrum – which was the site of so many great fights involving the likes of hometown heroes Frazier, Bennie Briscoe, Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, Willie “The Worm” Monroe and Stanley “Kitten” Hayward and such distinguished imports as Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Ernie Terrell and Mike Tyson, is being torn down later this year to make way for a hotel, retail stores and restaurants. Other club sites such as the Alhambra – affectionately known as the “Bucket of Blood” – and the Arena have been lost within the annals of time, sacrificed upon the supposed altar of progress.
Even the New Alhambra, the renamed Viking Hall in South Philadelphia that for the past five years has been the home of fight cards co-promoted by J Russell Peltz and the Hands, Joe Sr. and Joe Jr., is braced for a makeover that apparently won’t include boxing. The building’s owners, in effect, have evicted its tenants, who were not prepared to pay a demanded increase in rent from $1,000 to $6,000 a month. In the space which once housed pro cards, the Eastern Pennsylvania Golden Gloves tournament and the Joe Hand Boxing Gym soon will emerge a health club whose parent company is prepared to pay the much higher rent.
“To stay there and not own the building would have been foolish on my part,” said Joe Hand Sr., one of the original investors in Cloverlay, which bankrolled Joe Frazier during the early stages of his professional career.
The Hands are in the process of purchasing a building in the Northern Liberties section of Philly to house their gym, which should be good news to everyone who does not wish to see boxing at the local level perish in stages. But the turn of events that likely has doomed the sport at the New Alhambra is not entirely bleak for fight fans who will soon be treated to a more heaping dose of Blue Horizon fisticuffs than they’ve experienced in, well, years.
An arrangement is in place – contracts have not yet been signed, but are in the process of being drawn up – by which the Hands and Peltz will stage six fight cards at the Blue Horizon throughout the remainder of 2009, in addition to the Eastern Pennsylvania Golden Gloves. In conjunction with the bimonthly cards put on by Vernoca Michael’s company, The Legendary Blue Horizon Promotions, the bottom line is that there will be at least one show a month, and sometimes more, at the place that has proved to be such a tourist magnet even when fewer boxing events were presented there.
Don Elbaum, who serves as Michael’s matchmaker, said more in this instance is better … a lot better, in fact.
“Running 12 shows a year at the Blue Horizon is a plus not only for the Blue Horizon, but boxing and Philadelphia,” Elbaum said. “We are going to help Joe and Russell, and they are going to help us. No question.”
The new embarrassment of riches begins on Feb. 6, when Israeli soldiers Ran Nakash and Elad Shmouel headline the card promoted by Michael. Nakash (16-0, 12 KOs), who will be making his seventh appearance at the Blue Horizon, takes on Ryan Carroll (7-1, 4 KOs), of Delaware, Ohio, in the eight-round main event while Shmouel (18-2, 12 KOs), a junior welterweight, swaps punches with Khristian Garaci (4-5-1, 2 KOs), in a six-rounder.
Nakash serves as the chief instructor of hand-to-hand combat for the Israeli Defense Force; Shmouel is a first sergeant.
Exactly one month later, on March 6, the Hands and Peltz settle in when NABF welterweight champion Mike Jones (16-0, 14 KOs) defends his title against an opponent to be announced.
For Peltz, who has been running fight cards in Philadelphia since 1969, the return to the Blue Horizon is something of a homecoming. Since he had a falling out with Michael and moved on at the end of 2001, he has staged only one show there, a co-promotion with Don Chargin in January 2004. Until he partnered up with the Hands, he had been something of a gypsy in his own town, staging one-and-done shows at Poor Henry’s Brewery in 2000 and the Gershman YMCA (which for boxing purposes he renamed the Arts Palace) in 2002.
“It’ll be a little bit strange at first,” Peltz said of his return to once-familiar surroundings. “But as long as the fights are good, we’ll be fine.”
The friction between Peltz and Michael stemmed from Peltz’s complaints that improvements needed to be made to the facility. At the time, he cited unsafe catwalks and more minor concerns, such as peeling paint.
Those concerns were not without cause. In the summer of 2000, the Blue Horizon – so named by then-owner Jimmy Toppi in 1961, after a 1940s song, “Beyond the Blue Horizon” – was so decrepit that Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections had cited it for fire and electrical code violations.
Michael and her business partner, Carol Ray, had quit their jobs and went into debt for $500,000 when they purchased the Blue Horizon in 1994. At the time, they anticipated receiving state funds allocated for improvements along the so-called Avenue of the Arts.
“The enticement for us buying the property was those state and city grants,” Michael said at the time. “But to date that money has not been forthcoming.
“We do have a `Save the Blue Horizon’ campaign going on, but it’s going slow, real slow. We need help. We have to stop putting band-aids on things that need major attention. Instead of patching that little piece of concrete, if you took the whole step out and fixed it properly, then it’s there for maybe the next 50 years.”
Although $2 million in state money eventually was made available (all of which was funneled into restoration projects), matching funds from the city never came through during the terms of Mayors Ed Rendell and John Street because of what Michael cited as confusion regarding tax-exempt issues.
So the Blue Horizon is only part of the way back to its turn-of-the-century (that would be the 20th century, not the 21st century) glory, although more work needs to be done. But the toilets flush, the place has gotten a fresh coat of paint and a nice outdoor electronic sign. Call it incremental advancement.
Most important, boxing – which constitutes only part of the ownership group’s operation, which includes a travel agency and education programs – is likely to remain the most obvious part of the building’s identity.
Peltz and Michael are prepared to let bygones be bygones. “I’m a businesswoman, and business is business,” Michael reasoned, a theme echoed by Peltz as each sought to ease a potentially uncomfortable situation.
Several of the fighters promoted by Peltz and the Hands, including Jones and super bantamweight Teon Kennedy, are unabashedly looking forward to making their Blue Horizon debuts after fighting most often as pros at the New Alhambra. They’re Philly fighters who know the city’s rich boxing history, and much of that history is rooted in the onetime Fraternal Order of Moose lodge hall on North Broad Street.
For one man’s opinion of what the Blue Horizon represents, consider these words from Eric “Butterbean” Esch, the heavyweight novelty act who scored a first-round knockout of Tim Pollard on Aug. 25, 1998, which ended the 17-year run of “Tuesday Night Fights” on the USA Network.
“The Blue Horizon, to me, is like Madison Square Garden,” Butterbean opined. “It’s a famous fight site. You know you’re making it as a fighter if you fight at the Blue.”
And if you don’t believe Butterbean, maybe you’ll agree with Arizona Senator John McCain, the recent Republic nominee for President of the United States who was at ringside for Butterbean-Pollard as a guest of then-Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
“It’s my first time here, but I’ve seen the place on television a hundred times,” said McCain, a former Naval Academy boxer. “I’d heard about the incredible atmosphere, and everything I’ve heard is true. This is one of the great, classic places for boxing.”
Arce, who had agreed to attend the press conference, spent Saturday instead in the mountains of Mexico, where he trains. His unexpected absence only helped fuel the fire to an intense, heated rivalry that goes back several years.
In what will be a slugfest from start to finish, Darchinyan will defend his International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA) super flyweight belts against Arce on Saturday, Feb. 7, live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
The once-beaten, hard-hitting Darchinyan (31-1-1, 25 KOs), of Sydney, Australia, by way of Armenia, will be making his first defense since unifying the 115-pound division with a one-sided ninth-round knockout over Mexico’s Cristian Mijares Nov. 1, 2008, on SHOWTIME.
A winner of five in a row, the popular, crowd-pleasing Arce (51-4-1, 39 KOs), of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, is the current WBA interim super flyweight champion and is a former WBC 115-pound and World Boxing Organization (WBO) 108-pound titleholder.
The co-feature on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING will pit WBC No. 5-ranked contender Antonio DeMarco (19-1-1, 13 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico, against “Kid Diamond” Almazbek Raiymkulov (27-1-1, 15 KOs) in a 12-rounder for the North American Boxing Organization (NABO) lightweight title.
The event, co-promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, and Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Inc., will take place from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
What the participants had to say Saturday:
“I promise all of you today that I will punish Arce just like I did Mijares. I’m not going for the big KO early; I am going to punish him, let him recover, then I am going punish him some more and then knock him out.’’
(On why he still wants to fight Arce): “He was a well-known fighter and he is known for being a great puncher. But I want to show everybody that I am the bigger puncher and that I am the better fighter.’’
(His initial reaction to Arce’s No-Show at the press conference) “There is only one reason why he is not here. He is scared. He is a tough fighter, but I don’t expect much of a challenge. I am going to demolish him.’’
(On his improved technique) “Of course, I work on my tactics and skill but I have an aggressive style and I am a big puncher. I will use my defense; he won’t touch me. He is going to look like he doesn’t belong with me in the ring. He will not get close to me.
“He’s been hit in the head so much. He is not very smart for a boxer. He is dumb.
“All other Mexican fighters are brave and they’re great but what I can say about Arce is that he is using the name of past, great fighters (to make a name for himself). He wants to be one of them but he can’t be. He’s using names like (Erik) Morales. He thinks he is bigger than them.
“I’ve chased Arce all around the world for three years. It started in Mexico. Everybody talks about how he is such a strong, big puncher, but I will show I am a bigger puncher than him.’’
FERNANDO BELTRAN (President Zanfer Promotions in Mexico)
“Arce is not here. He is taking this fight very seriously and preparing himself in the mountains of Mexico.
“Gary (Shaw) is more than a promoter. He is the best cheerleader for his fighters. Yes, Gary is right. Darchinyan is chasing the stars, and we are making the stars. Arce was never hiding. Now, is the time to make this great fight.’’
“I see there is no table for Arce here so I assume he is not here and not coming. I’m sorry to all of you (the press) for his disrespect. Earlier, Bob Arum said that boxing is not dead. But maybe Arce’s career is dead.
“How appropriate: I see the lunch they are serving today is Chicken ala Arce. Seriously, Vic has been chasing Arce around the world for years and when Top Rank and Arce finally decided to take it, it took less than an hour to make this fight.
“Feb. 7 is a dream come true for Vic Darchinyan. For those of you who saw him fight Cristian Mijares, you know how good he can be. His loss to Nonito Donaire was the best thing to happen to him. It motivated him and now he knows to never take any fight for granted.
“Vic is a fighter who believes he can fight anyone, anywhere and that’s a wonderful thing for his promoter. While Top Rank’s guy is in the mountains, my guy is toiling in the valley of death (Las Vegas).
“This matchup has been a longtime in the making. The boys have been after each other for a while and it’s going to be a great fight. It will be as exciting a fight as you’ll see all year and it is going to end in a knockout one way or another.
“Arce has a tremendous following in Southern California. Tickets are priced very reasonably and we expect to have a great crowd on hand and a terrific TV audience for SHOWTIME.’’
Margarito, age 30, came in weighing 160, after hitting 146 Friday. The three-division ex champ Mosley , who needed a bathroom break to take off 2/10 of a pound and hit 147 Friday, weighed 160 on fight night. Both men reside in California.
Mosley landed 178-507, and Tony 108-485, which is testament to the masterful manner Mosley cramped his style. After, Mosley gave his cornerman credit for helping him excel. Margarito, in contrast to Miguel Cotto, said after that he wanted to go out on his shield, and go out for the ninth even though he was seriously diminished. He said that he will likely go through with his rematch with Miguel Cotto, though Mosley actually lays claim to that prize, without a doubt.
Mosley got the best of it in the first, but Tony got his jab untracked late. Mosley’s body work spoke volumes. In the second, Tony looked a bit frustrated with Mosley’s movement and grabbing. The ref told Mosley to watch his head in close. In the third, Tony whined about butts. Mosley slammed a few rights to his ear. His hand-speed edge stood out. As impressive was his slick work tying Tony up when in close. In the fourth, Mosley’s legs still gave Tony fits. A flurry in the center of the ring did too with 30 seconds to go. You could’ve had it 4-0 Mosley on your card. “Your combinations, no one in this division has hands as fast as yours. Knock the grease off this dude, and sim and don’t get wet” trainer Nazim Richardson told Mosley after. In the fifth, Mosley smothered Margarito; he didn’t back off Tony, so Margarito couldn’t elongate his arms effectively. In round six, Mosley looked fresh, as Tony backed up, and sagged into the ropes with 40 seconds to go. He then ate vicious rights that had the crowd getting raucous. “What’s wrong, are you tired?” Margarito’s trainer Javier Capetillo asked. In the seventh, Mosley again dictated the space in between the two. Mosley smashed a right to the chin with two seconds to go. In round eight, Tony looked like he knew he needed to get busy, right quick. He landed some ripping rights, but Mosley roared back, and staggered him down the stretch. He scored a knockdown, with a left hook and flurry, and Margarito got up wobbly at eight. The bell saved him, and he went to his corner, woozy. His corner almost stopped it, but Tony demanded to continue. In the ninth, Mosley pressed on the gas, caught him on the ropes, and the ref had to step in. It was over.
The combatants squared off in front of 20,820 fans, the most ever assembled for an event, any event, at the Staples Center. Off topic slightly, the crowd response when Margarito strolled to the ring upped Margarito’s asking price, in the event, by at least 30%. The American-Mexican fighter has been thoroughly embraced by a mad crush of fans.
Everyone quieted down for a 10 bell salute to Jose Torres, the former light heavyweight champion, who died last week.
There was controversy before the bout kicked off, as California commissioners found a pad in Margarito’s handwraps, which they alleged was made of material much harder than tape or gauze, and could aid his punching power. They made Margarito re-wrap his hands, without the illegal pad. The commission referred to the object as a "hard plastic shell," according to Jim Lampley of HBO. What was this object, and was it something that he'd used before? If yes, why hadn't it been caught before?
SPEEDBAG Make of this what you will. Oscar De La Hoya, the chief of Golden Boy, wasn't present to watch his man Mosley's masterclass showing. Instead, he was watching Fedor Emelianenko's first round KO smashout of Andrei Arlovski on Affliction's MMA card in Anaheim. Golden Boy has entered into a partnership with Affliction, and is looking to hedge their bets, and grow into an MMA player. Maybe the wounds inflicted by Manny Pacquiao are still too fresh, and watching boxing up close would have been too rough on him.
Often, during a televised fight, the announcers will take a look at the fighter’s records and quickly deduce that a certain boxer has no punch. Or another will say that because of the records of this fighter’s opponents, he’s untested and not ready for prime time exposure.
Boxing is very much like baseball in that respect, the numbers often tell the story in advance, but not always.
Take this match coming up between WBA welterweight titleholder Antonio Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs) and former three-division world champion Sugar Shane Mosley (45-5, 38 KOs) on Saturday Jan. 24, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. According to the numbers, it all adds up to a one-sided massacre.
Or does it?
A quick survey of Margarito’s record shows that he chopped down Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto in 11 rounds. Cotto beat Mosley in a close fight.
Margarito annihilated Cotto, forcing his corner to throw in the towel. It was brutal.
Another look at Margarito’s record shows that he is only 30 years old while Mosley is 37. That’s a seven-year difference that usually means the older fighter has taken more punches via sparring and prizefighting. Usually.
Like baseball, just because a batter has a .357 batting average doesn’t mean he can hit Sandy Koufax. It could mean that batter actually hits .427 against nondescript pitchers while hitting only .150 against premier hurlers with 2.00 earned run averages.
Boxing is like that too.
You could put a guy with 40 knockouts in 40 fights against somebody that’s 23-20 and it doesn’t mean that undefeated jawbreaker is going to win the fight. Because if that 50-50 fighter has been scrapping with top tier fighters while the undefeated slugger has only fought four-round fighters, then it could mean trouble for the guy with the zeroes.
Let’s compare the age between the two elite welterweights.
Margarito began boxing professionally in January 1994 at the age of 15 years old. When he should have been a freshman in high school, he was already trading punches with some pretty hefty punchers and skilled veterans. That’s not including the countless rounds of sparring every day against world-class sluggers in Tijuana and the gyms of Los Angeles. He was in bucket of blood skirmishes with murderous punches. Sure he wore headgear, but it still hurts and the punches to the chin will still put you out.
Mosley began in 1993 at age 21. That’s only one-year before Margarito. At the early age of seven, the Pomona boxer was in weekly amateur tournaments. By the time he exited the amateur program he surpassed 300 bouts. Then he entered the pro world and like Margarito he was in ring wars with guys like Genaro Hernandez, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Zack “Attack” Padilla a nonstop punching machine who actually established the record for punches in a junior welterweight championship bout when he held the WBO title. When Mosley would spar with those fighters it was brutal and amazing at the same time, like watching a masterpiece without the fanfare. Many of those bloody skirmishes took place in the old Brooklyn Gym and various other L.A. haunts.
Mosley definitely knows how to box against a volume puncher and Margarito absolutely knows how to attack a boxer. So who wins this contest?
Because Mosley has sparred with mostly Mexicans for half of his life, we’re talking about a guy who basically has a doctorate in the art of the body blow. Margarito has the same degree and is basically acknowledged as the wunderkind on the tactic. Who wins this?
Speed is the one asset Mosley possesses that Margarito definitely does not. The Pomona boxer has the faster hands, but Margarito has the longer arms. Mosley has the better jab, Margarito doesn’t throw a jab, he just throws 100 rounds of 50-caliber bullets at you. One or more of those shells are going to land.
For half of Margarito’s life the fighter known as the “Tijuana Tornado” has mixed blows against some of the top welterweights in the world. And when you consider his battering pressure style, that’s a lot of punishment taken over the years.
“That’s his style, he likes to pressure guys,” said Mosley, who is considered the underdog for a bid to win an eighth world title. “He likes to fight inside and I don’t mind fighting inside.”
Mosley has been studying Margarito and actually admires him. He’s his kind of fighter. Margarito respects Mosley too.
“Shane Mosley has a lot of experience,” admits Margarito, who shellacked Miguel Cotto last summer in winning a third welterweight world title. “Everybody knows what I like to do, I like to pressure fighters.”
One thing both fighters do have on equal ground is a chin made of titanium steel. And because both have virtually fought the same number of years in a professional ring, they both have the same wear and tear.
The Mexican brawler has been taking big blows to his head and body for 15 years against hard-hitting guys like Daniel Santos, Rodney Jones, Danny Perez, Kermit Cintron and Miguel Cotto.
Those are all deadly hammer-fisted guys that tested Margarito’s chin.
On the other side, there is speedy Mosley who also had a few big blows bounce off his noggin. Guys like Manuel “Shotgun” Gomez, Oscar De La Hoya, Vernon Forrest, Fernando Vargas and Cotto can vouch for the Pomona fighter’s ability to take a punch.
“I know I’m not going down,” says Mosley chuckling. “You can count on that.”
Margarito is equally proud of his ability to withstand the knockout.
But you never know which blow could be the one to finally shatter the bulletproof glass.
“I think that I do have a good chin,” says Margarito who trained in Montebello for this fight. “It’s my preparation that allows me to take some punches.”
Sure both Mosley and Margarito can take a hook to the jaw with the best, but can they take a good shot to the liver or solar plexus?
“Everybody has a weakness,” said Mosley almost hesitantly, maybe because he knows he has the same vulnerable spot that no one has exploited. “I’m good at going to the body too.”
Margarito has never been tested with a body blow by someone who can deliver a shocker with deadly accuracy like Mosley. The same goes for Mosley. Can he withstand a Margarito special to the body?
When either fighter lands that perfect shot to the body you will see the body paralyze like it was hit with 10,000 volts of electricity.
“They say Mosley is old and all of this but I really don’t see it. I think he’s a great champion,” said Margarito. “I really don’t see that I have any advantages anywhere over him.”
Mosley concurs and equally believes it will be a nip and tuck battle for 12 rounds.
“Margarito is definitely a tough fighter. He’s a warrior and everything he’s got, he earned,” said Mosley. “He took the long road up, the hard road up.”
Add up all the numbers and computations between these two boxers and all you will find is that it equals a great fight.
Pacquiao took Hatton and his promoters, Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer, to the brink and then made them blink. He did the same thing a few months back when he forced De La Hoya to throw him an extra three per cent (62-38 rather than 65-35 split of their Dec. 8 fight) and then made him blink again throughout a one-sided eight round beating that ended only when De La Hoya quit on his stool.
That dominating victory over boxing’s Golden Boy, coupled with the fact Pacquiao believed he’d made him back down in their negotiations as well, led him to some brinksmanship with Hatton that had Schaefer growling, his own promoter, Bob Arum, shaking his head and trainer Freddie Roach in the dark until all sides relented on their insistence that the purse be split 50-50 and agreed to a 52-48 breakdown that guarantees Pacquiao $12 million plus a sweetener from Arum that he claims “won’t cost me anything’’ but others whisper is worth $1.5 million extra.
What would have cost them all dearly was if Pacquiao didn’t get the A side of the purse and walked away. Pacquiao’s thinking on this was so simple it’s absurd the numbers crunchers couldn’t see it until the fight was threatened. In his mind he knocked out De La Hoya and his biggest fight on one of the biggest pay-per-view cards in history. Hatton got knocked out by Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in his biggest fight. How does that result in a 50-50 purse split?
“Every time somebody beats Oscar they want Oscar money,’’ Roach said Friday from California, where he will work the corner of MMA heavyweight Andrei Arlovski at Saturday night’s Affliction pay-per-view show in Anaheim. “Hatton brings a lot to the table because he did well on pay-per-view with Mayweather. But he didn’t do as well with Paulie Malignaggi in his last fight. Maybe that’s the economy. Maybe it’s because it was Paulie and not Floyd. You have to ask yourself how much of the sales were driven by Mayweather.
“After you get knocked out people don’t look at you the same way, either. Whatever it was, Manny wanted to be the bigger guy and he deserved to be the bigger guy. Manny wanted 60-40. I didn’t want to see him blow the fight over it but I felt he deserved it. In the end he got 52-48. Why not? Manny beat De La Hoya easily. Hatton got knocked out by Mayweather. Richard Schaefer is a pretty good negotiator but Manny was more than fair.’’
Schaefer loudly criticized Pacquiao after claiming he had a verbal agreement with Arum and Hatton for a 50-50 split of the millions anticipated. Only problem was he didn’t have it with the star of the show and he didn’t get it until Pacquiao did what he’s done to so many of his opponents in the ring. He made them blink.
Now the deal appears to be ironed out - and wisely so by all sides from a financial and fistic standpoint - Roach is anxious to get Pacquiao into a training camp set to begin March 1 at his Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, Ca. That’s two solid months of training for an opponent who, frankly, Roach believes is a perfect foil for boxing’s reigning pound-for-pound champion.
“I’m glad it happened,’’ Roach said. “Hatton is made for Manny. He’s a tough guy who comes forward. He’s a game guy looking to mug you. That’s the perfect style for Manny.
“Manny’s speed and his ability to go side-to-side and in and out makes Hatton perfect for him because he’s right there in front of you, coming forward, all the time. A guy like Mayweather is much more difficult because he’s always moving and he’s defensive. You’ve got to chase him to make it a fight.
“You don’t have to chase Hatton. You don’t have to look for Ricky. You know where he’s going to be. He’s right there in front of you, which is what Manny likes. He likes a guy who wants to try and make it a fight.’’
Roach, who has spent his entire life in the fight game, never believed the bout was off despite screaming headlines to that effect two days ago when Pacquiao rejected the 50-50 split Arum had negotiated for him. Schaefer stamped his feet and the Hattons supposedly directed him to go find another big fight for the junior welterweight champion but the fact is there was no other big fight and they all knew it.
So did Manny Pacquiao.
The Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz winner, especially if it turned out to be Marquez, would have been a fairly big payday for Pacquiao but for Hatton it would have meant little and if it was Diaz nothing. As for Mayweather, both sides understand that is the second fight in this two-fight arrangement because if you fight Mayweather and lose, as Hatton already has in one-sided fashion, then there’s no Pacquiao fight to sell the public.
“They could both go to Mayweather but they all knew that’s the second fight, not the first fight,’’ Roach said with a laugh. “The thing is Manny doesn’t really care about fighting Mayweather. After Hatton he wants to fight (welterweight champion Antonio) Margarito.
“He told Arum that already. He told Arum, ‘I can outbox him all night long.’ Margarito is relentless and he’s got that iron chin but I would never underestimate Manny.’’
That is now a wise approach, not only for his opponents, but also for the negotiators representing those opponents because ever since he got that extra three per cent from De La Hoya and then gave him a night-long beating, Manny Pacquiao seemed to grasp just who he is and where he fits in the marketplace.
According to a press release sent out by Winchell Campos, a Pacquiao associate, Pacquiao said, “They were quoted as saying that if I do not sign their contract they already have offers for them to fight in the British Isles with 80,000 people watching. Now it’s obvious that they were just bluffing…I want to fight Ricky Hatton if the terms are right and fair. Modesty aside, I did not become the best pound-for-pound fighter by fighting patsies on my way to the top…I proved I can fight at any weight level…What Schaefer failed to consider is the fact I am not fighting De La Hoya in this match.’’
The latter was a reference to Schaefer claiming after it appeared the fight had fallen through that just because you beat Oscar De La Hoya it doesn’t make you Oscar De La Hoya. That was never Manny Pacquiao’s contention. His contention was just because you get knocked out by Floyd Mayweather, Jr. it doesn’t make you Manny Pacquiao.
On that point, in the end, he prevailed. Soon he and Hatton will be together on a press tour to London and Manchester, England, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. On every stop Pacquiao will know who blinked when the money was on the line. It wasn’t him.
Come May 2, he and Freddie Roach believe the same thing will happen again. He’ll make the other guy blink…all night long.