Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the deal is in place, and the fight is set: Manny Pacquiao will face Antonio Margarito on November 13, either in Mexico or in Las Vegas, if the Nevada State Athletic Commission can be convinced to license Margarito.
Arum said he decided to choose Margarito instead of Miguel Cotto, whom Pacquiao stopped in the 12th round in November, because it would be perceived as a more competitive bout. The bout will be offered on HBO.
"Cotto was beaten and even with [Hall of Fame trainer] Emanuel Steward now with him, I don’t think people believe that it’s enough to make a difference and I’m not sure they would buy it as competitive," Arum said by telephone from his vacation home in Los Angeles. "But putting aside the controversy about the wraps, the one thing you know for sure with a Margarito fight is that it will be a hell of a fight for however long it lasts.
"Margarito knows only one way to fight and that’s coming forward. They’re going to get in there and fight. That’s what people want to see."
So the good news is it appears that this will not head to pay-per-view, which is probably smart. This fight is going to be met with enough backlash as it is, and offering a non-PPV Pacquiao bout is sort of a way of trying to combat that, I think, maybe to get people to go, "Well at least it's not on pay-per-view."
Update: Kevin Iole updated and the fight will be on pay-per-view.
The fight will be contested for the WBC junior middleweight belt, which means Pacquiao will be attempting to win a recognized title in his seventh weight class.
Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KO) and Margarito (38-6, 27 KO) were mentioned as possible opponents a couple of years ago, after Pacquiao moved up to welterweight and obliterated Oscar de la Hoya in December 2008. At that time, Margarito was the top-ranked welterweight in the world, having beaten Miguel Cotto in the summer of 2008. Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach dismissed the idea at the time, feeling that Margarito was simply too big for Pacquiao.
Now, it's a different world. Margarito, 32, was disgraced in January 2009 with a hand-wrap controversy before a brutal loss to Shane Mosley, which resulted in his license being indefinitely suspended by the state of California. Margarito was set to return on the undercard of Pacquiao's March 13 fight with Joshua Clottey this year, but the Texas commission did not grant Margarito a license. Margarito and Top Rank were criticized for attempting to bypass the California authorities, which they again did recently when they went to Nevada seeking a reinstatement. Nevada effectively told them they would not grant Margarito a license and that they should go through California.
There is a chance this will wind up in Las Vegas, though. The economy out there is still very poor, and Pacquiao is a huge draw who brings in a lot of money. And though many of us in the hardcore boxing circles may feel Margarito doesn't deserve to be in the ring anymore, that doesn't go for everybody. His comeback fight on May 8 in Mexico drew a ton of fans, and he still has many supporters. Like it or not -- and I admit I don't -- this is a smart money fight for Top Rank. It renews the Filipino-Mexican boxing rivalry, which Pacquiao has dominated over the years with wins over Mexican heroes such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez, as well as notable names like Oscar Larios, Jorge Solis and Hector Velazquez.
But if the fight does wind up in Mexico, it will be a sensational atmosphere and you can expect a massive live crowd. They won't make Vegas money, but they'll make big money.
I personally feel that Bob Arum should be taken more to task for ignoring that there are very deserving and willing fighters out there who are not under his promotional banner. Arum has broken it down as if Margarito and Cotto were the only options. And on one hand, Arum and Top Rank can easily say that those are the two biggest money fights available for Pacquiao, and that's fine, but when you dismiss a fighter like Timothy Bradley for not having a big enough fanbase and not being a big enough star, yet a few months ago you were willing to put Pacquiao into a ring at Cowboys Stadium with Joshua Clottey, who has zero fanbase and absolutely no star power whatsoever, it becomes a bit more questionable and a bit less tidy. Bottom line is they looked for the most money, and Margarito is probably the most money they could make on a Pacquiao fight that isn't against Floyd Mayweather Jr., which as we all know is not happening right now. I understand why they're doing it, but I don't have to particularly like it, and I don't.