By Rick Reeno
BoxingScene.com spoke with trainer Freddie Roach about the possibility of Manny Pacquiao defending his WBO welterweight title against Antonio Margarito in November. Roach is not even thinking about Margarito because the Mexican fighter has yet to obtain a license to box in the United States.
Last February, the California State Athletic Commission revoked Margarito's boxing license. Margarito was punished over an illegal substance being discovered in his handwraps moments before the fight with Shane Mosley on January 24.
Margarito is making a ring return on May 8 in Mexico. The former welterweight champion has the ability to request a new license, but there is no guarantee the California commission will grant his request. As an alternative to the problem, Roach was approached with the idea of holding the Pacquiao-Margarito fight in Mexico, which the trainer quickly shot down.
Roach views undefeated Edwin Valero as the best fight for Pacquiao in November. Valero is licensed to box in the state of Texas. If the fight is held in Cowboys Stadium, Roach believes the entire venue will be sold out. But, Valero has some issues of his own. In early 2009, Valero was busted in Texas for driving under the influence of alcohol. Because of the charge, he's been unable to obtain a visa to enter the United States. Roach is confident the visa issue will be cleared up.
"[Margarito] has no license. They said we could fight in Mexico but that's not going to happen. That would be a real bad move for Manny Pacquiao - to slap the commissions in the face. I'm thinking about it and the number one contender in my mind right now is Valero," Roach told BoxingScene.com.
"Valero is licensed in Texas. If we do Valero there, we could sell out the whole place. You don't have to close half of it down. I've been watching him a little bit. I know he's a big puncher. He's a southpaw and does pose some difficulties. He's better than just a guy who could punch but I think that's the best marketable fight out there for us."
I mentioned a few other possibilities like undefeated WBC/IBF 140-pound champion Devon Alexander and unbeaten WBO champion Timothy Bradley, who makes his HBO debut on June 26 - at welterweight. Once they become bigger names, Roach will consider them as opponents for Pacquiao.
"Once they start selling tickets, and we could get them on pay-per-view and start making money - [then] we'll fight those guys," Roach said.
And of course there is the option of a trilogy fight with Juan Manuel Marquez - which is Freddie's personal favorite to take place.
"Personally, that's the fight I want. Nacho [Beristain] is a good trainer and we're competitive and I'd love for Manny to knock him [Marquez] out," Roach said.
All of the names previously mentioned are "Plan B" opponents. The immediate goal for Roach and Pacquiao is to fight the winner of Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Shane Mosley, taking place on May 1 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.