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Texas official explains Margarito licensing
While Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito and the rest of the circus wind their way through this week's three-city media tour, which concludes Friday at Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas, perhaps the most important person in the whole sideshow is missing.
William Kuntz, who most of you have probably never heard of, is probably working in his office somewhere deep in the heart of Texas while everyone else involved in the fight is off selling it.
Kuntz, more than anyone else, is responsible for Margarito -- convicted of trying to wear loaded gloves into his fight with Shane Mosley in January 2009 -- getting a boxing license so he can face Pacquiao for a vacant junior middleweight Nov. 13 on HBO PPV.
Kuntz made the ultimate decision to license him. Maybe the shameless WBC will even give him a belt for the decision.
Kuntz is the executive director of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, the agency that overseas, well, licensing and regulation for 29 occupations and industries in the state. Boxing is one of them. It also oversees electricians, barbers, cosmetologists and tow truck operators, among other professions.
California had revoked Margarito's license after the sordid incident before the Mosley fight. It also revoked the license of Margarito's former trainer Javier Capetillo, who wrapped his hands. When 'Cheato re-applied last month in California, the commission voted to deny him a new license on a 5-1 vote. However, just by appearing before the commission, Margarito was then allowed to apply in other states. That's because the Association of Boxing Commissions, which oversees and interprets rules for all state commissions, strongly suggested he go to California before asking any other state. The ABC also strongly urged its members to not consider licensing Margarito until he did so. The result of the California hearing was not important, so long as he showed up.
Margarito did and it became nothing more in Texas than a virtual rubber stamp, which Kuntz applied days later. I have no idea if there were outside pressures on Kuntz to give Margarito the license, but I do know that people like Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wield a lot of influence. I also know that, love the fight or despise the fight, it's going to generate tens of millions of dollars in business. As soon as Margarito appeared before the California board -- where I would have bet anything he was going to be denied -- I knew there was no way he wouldn't get a license in Texas.
Typically, to get a boxing license in Texas all you need to do is fill out the application, provide proper medical paperwork and pay $20. If that happens, the folks in financial services issue the license.
Margarito's case, of course, is high profile. Because of that, his paperwork was flagged and sent to Kuntz.
Despite the controversy over the license in Texas, Kuntz said he was just doing his job when he issued it. In his opinion, he went above what was necessary to review the application, which is not something he does for any run of the mill applicant.
"The application came through the normal process, but because this was a high profile application, they brought it to me to see what should be done," Kuntz told me over the phone.
He said few applications land on his desk. Typically, the ones that do involve boxers applying for licenses who are older than 36 or younger than 18.
Margarito's, of course, did, and he said he was prepared.
"Because of the high profile nature of this, there has been a lot of discussion in the press," said Kuntz, who has been in his position for 11 years. "I've been following the issues and the terms of his revocation. We had gotten a copy of the transcript of the revocation hearing. We listened to the license hearing in California [on Aug. 18] and listened to the discussion there, and the decision they made. And we received a letter from the ABC legal committee" saying state commissions were authorized to license Margarito.
"So that background information was all factored into my decision and his medical information was in order," Kuntz said.
Kuntz said his explanation for issuing the license was based on his reading of the California transcripts. In Margarito's two hearings there, no evidence was ever presented that he knew that his wraps were loaded. Kuntz correctly pointed out that California's decision was based on the notion that Margarito "should have known" what was in his wraps.
"They didn't make a finding that he knew something was done improperly, just that he should have known," said Kuntz, who once denied Mike Tyson a license during his search for one following the Evander Holyfield ear bite. "The finders of fact [in California] made that decision that he should have known rather than he did know. I'm going to rely on the finders of fact because they heard the original testimony."
Kuntz said the cases of Tyson and Margarito are different. He denied Tyson because he knew he had bitten Holyfield. He licensed Margarito because the California finding said he didn't know he had illegal inserts in his wraps.
"We went through a similar atmosphere when Mike Tyson came here and everybody weighed in," Kuntz said. "But we need to look at our laws and rules and the facts presented to us and make a decision."
Now the decision is made whether any of us like it or not, and Margarito will lace 'em up in Texas.
As Kuntz said of the moments in which his hands are being wrapped by new trainer Robert Garcia, "I'm sure with all the publicity, that will be something to watch very carefull
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It is all about money but whatever it is not like they were not going to find a location for such a fight.
It was never a matter of if it was a matter of where.
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