NEW YORK — Manny Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach wanted the exact same thing that boxing fans everywhere wanted: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
They got Antonio Margarito instead.
Pacquiao and Roach said Wednesday that they agreed to every demand put forward by Mayweather for what could have been the richest fight in boxing history. But the former pound-for-pound king chose not to accept the fight, leaving Pacquiao to look elsewhere for a fall opponent.
He’ll face Margarito, the former welterweight champ, on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium.
“I don’t need him, he needs me,” Pacquiao said of Mayweather, during a stop Wednesday in New York to promote his upcoming fight. “Compare my achievements in boxing to his achievements.”
They’ve both achieved plenty, which is why fans have been clamoring for the high-profile matchup for the better part of two years — and why so many are upset it hasn’t happened.
The fight was nearly made in January, then fell apart when Pacquiao refused Olympic-style drug testing in the weeks leading up to the fight. But the newly minted congressman from the Philippines said he’s even agreed to the strict blood testing in an effort to make the fight, but he hasn’t heard from Mayweather’s side why an agreement couldn’t be reached.
“We agree with, you know, his demands,” Pacquiao said, referring specifically to the blood testing. “I wanted to know if that’s his real reason [for not fighting].”
The entire negotiation process came to resemble an unsavory soap opera, with HBO Sports boss Ross Greenburg publicly stating that he had worked tirelessly as an intermediary between the two sides. Pacquiao’s promoter Top Rank has a poor relationship with Mayweather, who rose to become a world champion under its banner, so it’s not unreasonable to assume there was an intermediary.
Shortly after a deadline imposed by Top Rank for Mayweather to accept the fight had passed, his adviser Leonard Ellerbe issued a bizarre statement in which he said no negotiations ever took place — contradicting Greenburg and the folks at Top Rank.
Roach said that Top Rank had been calling him for advice on what gloves to wear, what ring size to use, what weight to fight at — standard details during a negotiation process.
“When people are calling me and asking me, ‘Is this OK? Is this OK? Is this OK?’ There’s something going on,” Roach said. “I know there must have been negotiations going on.
“Whatever he wanted to do, we were accepting it. Whatever he wanted. Manny said, ‘I want to fight. I’ll agree to anything.’ I thought the fight was a shoo-in.”
Roach was recently in Ukraine to watch one of his other fighters, Vyacheslav Senchenko, retain a welterweight title. But all he heard from fans were questions about Pacquiao-Mayweather — not about Senchenko, and certainly not about Margarito.
“You know, I really truly think boxing needs that fight to happen,” Roach said. “All people want to know, ‘When’s he fighting Mayweather?’ Wherever I go, that’s what I’m asked.”
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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