By Tony Paige
As the former president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, I have a simple mantra for the sport: The best boxers should only fight the best.
A simple rule for a complicated sport that needs all the high-profile fights it can get.
With its lack of access to free TV, overusing pay-per-view and an assault from Mixed Martial Arts, boxing has been a niche sport for quite some time.
The only fight on the horizon that has any interest world-wide is the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight.
Both fighters are in their prime, are in the same weight division and have the opposite personalities that attract boxing and more importantly, non-boxing fans.
Non-fight fans may not know boxing, but they know Pacquiao-Mayweather.
When the fight was first proposed, the negotiations went smoothly until the issue of Olympic-style blood testing was brought up.
Pacquiao balked and the fight was scuttled. Both fighters were to get $40 million each.
Both fighters took interim fights and now are back to square one, negotiating, or so I thought only this time, Pacquiao agreed to the blood testing.
Now it’s Mayweather who has balked.
He doesn’t feel like fighting anymore this year even though the fighter’s take of this union is now $50-60 million – apiece.
I have never heard of a professional fighter who 1) doesn’t feel like fighting when 2) there is a purse of at least $50 million for you alone.
If a man doesn’t want to fight, then he doesn’t want to fight and the other fighter has to move on.
But move on to this?
Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, has fast-tracked Antonio Margarito to replace Mayweather.
Say it ain’t so, Bob!
Margarito is a convicted cheat in the ring. When he was about to defend his welterweight crown last year against Sugar Shane Mosley in California, his trainer Nazim Richardson noticed something strange about his hand wraps.
They were removed, Mosley kicked his butt and the wraps were later found to have a plaster-like substance on them.
Margarito was suspended for a year and banned from fighting in the United States.
He has had one fight since in his home country of Mexico.
Now Arum has announced that Pacquiao and Margarito will fight on Nov. 13 at a venue to be determined for a junior-middleweight crown no less.
Top Rank applied to get Magarito’s license reinstated – in Las Vegas.
Vegas said, sorry you’ll need to go to California, the scene of the crime, to get you license back.
Arum says he is working on it, though if he can’t get the license, he may move the fight to Monterrey, Mexico.
[Last week, the Associated Press reported that 51 bodies from drugs wars were found in a mass grave – in Monterrey.]
If Margarito gets his license to fight, I have no interest in attending the fight.
If I were commissioner of boxing, Margarito would be banned from the sport for the rest of his natural life.
He can fight where ever he wants, but not in the United States.
Like steroid abusers in baseball, you have to wonder if Magarito’s hands were tainted in his recent fights, including his brutal TKO of Miguel Cotto in 2008.
I have always been a fan of the boxers first.
Boxers put their lives on the line whether they are in training or in an arena earning a paycheck.
They are the heart and soul of a dying sport, yet they continue to risk it all for a shot at fame and fortune.
WFAN has sent me too many fighters over the years, the two most recent were the Pacquiao-Cotto and Mayweather-Mosley fights.
I’ll have to pass on Pacquiao-Margarito even if it means not attending Pacquiao-Mayweather, if it ever happens.
Pacquiao-Margarito should not have been made.
It sends the wrong message to all the hard-working fighters out there and all those who plunk down their hard-earned cash to watch a fight on pay-per-view.
The stench that surrounds Margarito’s cheating will envelop Pacquiao and boxing.
Someone has to say no, we can’t have this.
Let me cast the first vote.