by Paul Magno
Not only is Texas ready and willing to play host to Antonio Margarito as he takes on Manny Pacquiao November 13th, but from the looks of things, they may even be willing to do some publicity work for Margarito’s damaged public image.
Although it hasn’t been announced officially, an approval from the Texas state commission is pretty much a done deal and will likely be announced within the next 48 hours or so.
Last Wednesday, the California State Athletic Commission voted 5 to 1 to uphold their revocation of Margarito’s license based on their feelings that the fighter hadn’t put forth the minimal effort to acknowledge his transgressions and rehabilitate his professional conduct. But the hearing was a mere formality as, per ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions) statement, Margarito is now “free to pursue licensure with any ABC member commission” after making the effort to be reinstated by the commission that initially leveled the punishment.
Texas, or any other state for that matter, is now free to consider licensing Margarito and there won’t even need to be a hearing. The matter will likely be handled in the same manner as if Margarito were just any other fighter looking for a license: A written application, $20 dollar fee, and, later, the proper medical work.
While some states may still have reluctance in signing boxing’s modern day pariah, the Texas commission has never been one to suffer from a guilty conscience or ethical dilemmas.
A Las Vegas home for the Margarito-Pacquiao clash isn’t out of the question, especially since Team Pacquiao insiders have said that Manny, personally, prefers a Vegas venue, but Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones, is not likely to let go so easy and won’t hesitate to throw some of his influence around in an effort to assure Margarito getting a hero’s welcome in Texas.
Dickie Cole, Texas’ program manager of combat sports, may have offered a glimpse into the way the commission is leaning when he gave a statement recently to the LA Times.
“If a man serves his time for his crime, he’s served his time and needs to be released,” said Cole of Margarito.
Then, in a shocking, but not surprising, breach of professional ethics, Cole crossed the line from impartial official to flat-out publicist.
“My personal opinion is what he had on his hands doesn’t give you any advantage over an opponent,” Cole said. “Do I personally think it’d help his hands or be detrimental to his opponent? No. It’d have no effect on his punching power.
“I’m not a policeman,” Cole continued, “but it appeared the evidence against him was weak. I don’t think the kid is a bad person. Now, technically, he’s legally able to fight here…”
Cole won’t be personally involved in approving or denying Margarito, but it’s been widely reported that he is dealing directly with Margarito’s and Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, as well as Jerry Jones in an effort to make this bout happen in his state.
The first phrase that comes to any sane person’s mind when discovering that the head of a state regulatory commission is actively courting promoters, fighters and venue owners is “Conflict of Interest.” But such things don’t concern the 79-year old Cole, who has made a career out of blatant conflicts of interest.
Cole is the guy who arranged for his son’s firm to be the official insurance provider to promoters who seek to do business in Texas and then, on top of that, appoints that same son, Laurence, as referee to those high-profile fights despite being widely recognized as one of the sport’s least competent referees by media and fans.
And let’s not even comment on the quality of judges that continually get the call for main stage boxing shows under Cole’s supervision.
Texas had no problem licensing Edwin Valero, who had bleeding on the brain and was unable to get licensed anywhere else in the US. And it surely won’t have a problem with issuing a license to Margarito for, as Dickie Cole told Lance Pugmire of the LA Times, wearing tainted knuckled pads that “might have been there only to protect Margarito’s hands.”
On second thought, after seeing how they do business and hearing the sewage seeping from their boss man’s mouth, Texas may be the perfect home for Margarito after all.