David J. Phillip / AP
Saturday, July 24, 2010 | 1:57 p.m.
Manny Pacquiao’s Nov. 13 fight against Antonio Margarito will likely either be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena or at a 22,000-seat facility in Monterrey, Mexico, depending on Margarito’s ability to obtain a license in the U.S., Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said Saturday.
Pacquiao settled for the junior middleweight bout with Margarito after an agreement could not be reached with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Margarito (38-6, 27 KO) had his license revoked by the California commission in February 2009 when its inspector found illegal substances hidden in his hand wraps prior to a fight with Shane Mosley.
In a 4-1 vote earlier this month, the Nevada State Athletic Commission tabled Margarito’s request for a license to fight in Las Vegas and encouraged him to reapply in the state he received his suspension.
However, Margarito has been hesitant to do so because of a pending lawsuit he has against the commission appealing their decision to revoke his license.
But Arum said the California commission has agreed to grant Margarito an expedited hearing only if he drops the appeal.
“The Nevada commission said he has to go back to California but that isn’t the law and California is playing games,” Arum said. “They said they’ll only give him a hearing if he gives up the appeal. From what his attorneys tell me, it’s a good appeal.
“To force someone to give up an appeal to get a hearing is very un-American to me.”
Arum went on to say that although a Pacquiao fight will generate the same revenue regardless of where it takes place, he hopes to hold it in Las Vegas.
A resident of Las Vegas since 1986, Arum says he feels obligated to give the city a fight that will bring in over $100 million according to his company’s estimates.
“Pacquiao is very unique,” Arum said. “There are other fighters like Mayweather with popularity, but Pacquiao brings an entire nation in that gambles. When he fought here in November against Miguel Cotto, gambling spiraled up 25 percent from November the year before.
“I can make equal money taking the fight somewhere else but I feel guilty doing that. I live in Nevada. I care about the state and I made a commitment to the MGM.”
The Nevada commission holds meetings approximately every month and legally has the ability to grant Margarito a license to fight.
Former chairman and current board member Bill D. Brady, who voted in favor of tabling Margarito’s request on July 9, said he couldn’t speculate on how the commission would respond to a new application from the fighter.
“I can’t tell you what his chances are,’ Brady said. “We all have our own thoughts and we vote on our own conscience. Of course the town could use the fight, but we can’t let economics come before ethics.”
The board is aware of the financial impact a Pacquiao fight would have on the city, but according to Chairman Pat Lundvall, the commission also places a high value on hosting the biggest fights in Las Vegas.
Lundvall, who voted against tabling Margarito’s request, said that Las Vegas is the fight capital of the world and believes it should hold a fight of this magnitude.
“I think our first and foremost concern is to help the safety of fighters,” Lundvall said. “I can say that we are doing everything we can to make sure Las Vegas gets the fight on November 13.
“It’s my understanding there are two locations being considered, from the commission’s perspective I know we definitely want to ensure we capture that fight.”
The news effectively ends any chance of a potential fight between Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KO) and Floyd Mayweather Jr. (41-0, 25 KO) in 2010.
Arum said Pacquiao was disappointed that Mayweather wouldn't take the fight but not surprised by it. Top Rank announced during a midnight conference call last week its intentions to find a new opponent for Pacquiao. Mayweather's camp fired back a few days later, stating the two sides were never that close to an agreement.
“We sort of suspected that would happen,” Arum said. “We had negotiated a deal through (HBO president) Ross Greenburg and he assured us that everything was on line. When weeks started dragging on, Manny was resigned that it wouldn’t happen.
“It may well be that Mayweather doesn’t want to fight this year. That’s fine, but he should have come out and said it instead of all this nonsense.”