With Antonio Margarito still not yet licensed in New York after a hearing today before the state's athletic commission, promoter Bob Arum is ready and, he says, able to move the December 3 HBO pay-per-view fight between Margarito and Miguel Cotto out of the state.
"Worst-case scenario is that they deny the license, and if they do, we have five other venues as backups," said Arum, who declined to name the other venues. "But we are still going Dec. 3. We're doing the fight. We have a license (for Margarito) from a few states. You play the hand that you're dealt. I'm not going to get myself worried about it. Hopefully, the commission does the right thing and grants the license."
The commission is concerned about the right eye of Margarito, which was surgically repaired this year after a brutal beating from Manny Pacquiao in November 2010. It's not guaranteed that they're going to turn him down at this point, but obviously things aren't looking great.
What's most puzzling about this, as we've said before, is New York chairperson Melvina Lathan attended the big press conference in New York for this fight, weeks ago. Why did everyone let a venue get booked if one of the fighters isn't licensed, and there was going to be concern? Margarito's injury and surgery were both very public news earlier this year, so it's not a case of they just found out his eye's not in great shape.
Margarito's surgeon is among those supporting his application for a license. New York turned down the fighter's October 31 application.
This has potential to be a real mess. If Margarito isn't licensed, yeah, they might move the fight, but it's November 16 right now. This fight is in 17 days. If they move this to Texas (where Margarito is licensed) or another state, then you're talking about travel plans for everyone, hotels, media, tickets that were purchased for Madison Square Garden, and so on.
The fight will not be canceled, which Arum makes clear, but how many tickets can you move in Texas or another state on two weeks notice, not to mention all the other headaches?