By Rick Reeno
After reading some of the recent comments made by Oscar De La Hoya, WBA welterweight champion Antonio Margarito, and co-manager Sergio Diaz, contacted BoxingScene.com and were more than happy to counter. During a recent ESPN Radio interview, De La Hoya would state his case on why he was refusing to accept Margarito's challenge. According to De La Hoya, Margarito has "unfinished business" that he needs to clear up with Paul Williams, the current WBO welterweight champion. De La Hoya feels that Williams is being disrespected when Margarito is labeled as "the best welterweight" in the sport.
"First of all, Antonio Margarito had a great win against Miguel Cotto. That's wonderful for him. I wish him all the best and I've always prided myself on fighting everybody. Fighting the best from Bernard Hopkins to Floyd Mayweather. I just feel personally that Antonio Margarito has some unfinished business to take care of against Paul Williams. I just felt it's disrespectful to Paul Williams to call Antonio Margarito the best welterweight out there. We can not forget about Paul Williams. That's just the way I feel," De La Hoya said.
Initially, during Cotto-Margarito fight week, De La Hoya told a crowd of reporters that he would fight the winner of Cotto-Margarito, and even went as far as to call it "a great way to end my career." At the same time while negotiating with Top Rank for a fight with WBC lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao, he informed Margarito's promoter, Bob Arum, that he would not consider a Margarito fight because it would anger the Mexican fans if he faced another Mexican fighter in the final bout of his career.
Earlier in the week, negotiations broke down for a fight with Pacquiao, and De La Hoya contradicted his own statements by quickly turning his attention to WBC junior middleweight champion Sergio Mora, a Mexican-American fighter. Negotiations are still ongoing with Pacquiao, but the size and weight disparity has attracted the wrath of the fans, the media and numerous notable figures in the industry.
Diaz tells BoxingScene that De La Hoya is trying to create a new excuse to avoid Margarito by using Williams. After Williams lifted the WBO title from Margarito last July, Diaz sent a petition letter to the WBO to place Margarito as the mandatory challenger, trying to position his fighter for an immediate rematch (letter provided to BoxingScene). The rematch never came off. Diaz states that Williams and his promoter, Dan Goossen, were not interested in an immediate rematch and instead opted for an optional defense.
"Regarding Paul Williams - this is Oscar's new way of trying to deviate pressure regarding a Margarito bout. After the Margarito/Williams' bout, Antonio asked that we send the WBO a letter asking to be named as the mandatory challenger which would result in an immediate rematch. This letter was sent to the WBO and put in the agenda during the WBO convention," Diaz said. "During this time, with the lobbying and persistant outcry of Mr. Goossen, the WBO decided that Margarito would become Williams' mandatory, but Williams would be allowed to make an optional defense."
"Top Rank put the Williams' defeat behind them, moved forward and fought Margarito in November while Williams rested and waited for his next date (February 08). Margarito fought and defeated [Golden] Johnson, while Williams waited. Williams finally got his date, but no opponent. After weeks of waiting Williams finally had his opponent. During this time, again Top Rank looking for the interest of their fighter they decided to move forward with Antonio and look for other options instead of waiting. Williams was Top Rank's number-one option since Margarito was his mandatory, but fights with [Kermit] Cintron, [Zab] Judah, as well as Cotto were being tossed around."
"Judah turned the fight down, Cotto was a strong possibility, but Cintron made the most sense for Top Rank. You put this bout and the Cotto bout together, then you match the winners - which is what eventually happened. But putting the Cintron bout together was not as easy as everyone thought. That bout was not given a green light until a week after the Williams loss to [Carlos] Quintana. Goossen was pressuring the WBO and the WBO was pressuring us to make a decision as to which way we would go. The Cintron bout was given the green light and obviously that was route we were taking since it included a Cotto fight if Antonio came out victorious."
A few weeks ago, Williams held a media lunch in California and called for a Margarito rematch. In the opinion of Diaz, since Williams was not interested in a rematch with Margarito (until he beat Cotto), he can wait in line while Margarito makes his play. And as far as De La Hoya goes, Diaz says it's the fans of the sport who are being disrespected with Oscar's pursuit of a Pacquiao fight.
"Oscar says Antonio is being disrespectful to Williams? Oscar is being disrespectful not only to Antonio, but to everyone who pays his salary, the fans! Antonio went after Williams - Williams and his promoter decided to avoid another fight with Antonio and instead fight Carlos Quintana. Antonio reigned as a world champion for five years, with eight-defenses. Paul reigned for six months and lost his title in his first defense and Oscar says Antonio is being disrespectful to Williams? Tony became a two-time world champion when he defeated Cintron. Vacated his belt to fight Cotto, defeated Cotto who at the time was considered by everyone to be the best welterweight in the world and became a three-time world champion and Oscar says Antonio is being disrespectful to Williams?"
"Mr. Goossen flies Williams to LA, invites media to lunch and begins to call out Antonio because Paul just beat the fighter who gave him a beating back in February. If anything, Mr. Goossen and Paul should be thanking Top Rank and Antonio for taking the Cintron bout. It left the door open to rematch Quintana. They weren't saying we were making the wrong decision back in February. There weren't calling Antonio out after he defeated Cintron. They had their own agenda and it did not include Antonio. Now that Antonio beat Cotto and Paul regained the title he should of never lost to begin with, Mr. Goossen and Paul are making their demands. Paul needs to pressure his promoter to keep him busy. What Oscar needs to do is sit down and think about who is disrespecting who."
Margarito would tell BoxingScene that his desire to fight De La Hoya began several years ago when he was Oscar's sparring partner. He claims De La Hoya looked him right in the face on more than one occasion and promised him a fight in the future - if Margarito won a title. After Margarito won the WBO title, a fight with Oscar never came.
"Oscar needs to stop disrespecting the boxing fans. The fans are demanding this fight to take place. The fans are the ones who have made him who he is. It is time that Oscar gives them something in return. I have known Oscar for years, I was his sparring partner, I helped him prepare for fights. During that time I would ask Oscar if he would ever give me the opportunity to fight him. He said yes, but only if and when I won a title. Well I won a title. I saw him at a press conference and again I asked him when he would give me an opportunity, he then smiled at me and told the media that I was a possibility, but a couple of days later he said he could make more money fighting someone else. He said no one knew who I was and there was no demand for that fight," Margarito said.
Margarito says that he supported De La Hoya, a fellow Mexican, for years. He was angered and personally offended, as a Mexican, when De La Hoya told the Puerto Rican press that Cotto would beat him. He also feels that his fight with Cotto overshadowed anything De La Hoya was trying to do for his December bout, which forced De La Hoya to throw his name in the hat by calling out the winner.
"The Cotto/Margarito bout is announced, this fight attracts such intense media coverage that Oscar is forgotten. Of course this does not sit well and Oscar announces that he wants his final bout to be a big fight and that he would fight the winner between Margarito/Cotto,“ Margarito said.
“I did not think anything of this, I had a job to do, and that was to continue to focus on Cotto. Day to day, week to week, Oscar continues to say he wants the winner, but now includes that he expects Cotto to win. I even asked Sergio if this was true? As a Mexican, I always supported Oscar. It bothered me that Oscar made this comment to the Puerto Rican media. Sergio jokingly said he had no choice but to say this because his wife was standing beside him.”
“About a week later, his trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. made the same comment, ‘Oscar wants the winner between Cotto/Margarito, but we all know that Cotto will defeat Margarito. He's too fast, too intelligent, a boxer always beats a brawler.’ Floyd, what do you have to say now? I guess Oscar felt he was being overshadowed so he came out saying ‘I'll fight anyone, Pacquiao, Cotto, Margarito.’ Anyone! I'm thinking, wow, I'm glad Oscar is saying this.”
After Margarito won his bout against Cotto, he never heard another word from De La Hoya, his trainer Floyd Sr., or Golden Boy Promotions. Margarito doesn’t think that De La Hoya cares at all what the Mexican people think, and showed it when he picked Cotto to beat him, comments that were run in the Mexican press and angered many Mexican boxing fans because De La Hoya sided with a Puerto Rican fighter.
“I fight and defeat Cotto on July 26. Where is Oscar? Where is his trainer? What happened with, ‘I want to fight the winner between Cotto/Margarito.’ What happened with ‘I'll fight anyone.’ Now I hear nothing but excuses. He needs to stop deceiving the people. He can not continue being dishonest to the fans.,“ Margarito said.
“Excuse and lie number one - ‘I can't fight Antonio because the Mexican people will not like me.’ That one was funny, a couple of months ago it did not bother you to publicly announce that Cotto would beat me. That statement was printed around the world, including Mexico. You didn't seem to worry about how the Mexican people would react when you made it. This goes to show that it does not matter what the Mexican people think of you. Being a resident of Puerto Rico, you showed your best interest and alliance to Puerto Rico. I don't blame you, but this first excuse is unacceptable.”
“Excuse number two - You mentioned that you would fight the winner between Cotto/Margarito, but you never thought Margarito would win, no one thought Margarito would win. This one is still open-ended. What does this mean? You didn't mean to fight me, because you saw what I did to Cotto? If Cotto would have been in the same fight, but come out victorious - you would have fought him since he was in such a tough fight? If I would of been knocked down a couple of times, cut, and injured - then maybe? What is it Oscar? You didn't see anything you liked, Cotto not coming out with a victory, Cotto receiving a beating, or me being victorious in such a manner that it didn’t convince you and whomever else that you could beat me? I am confused with this excuse?"
“Excuse number three - I'm disrespecting Paul Williams. I said what I had to say about Paul. I did my job to get that fight. They chose to take another fight - now they have to wait.”
De La Hoya has said more than once that his former trainer Freddie Roach is the catalyst for the urge to fight Pacquiao, who would have to move up by two weight-divisions to meet him at the welterweight limit of 147-pounds. Roach , who trains Pacquiao, told media members that Oscar was no longer able to “pull the trigger” and picked Pacquiao to win by knockout. As far the comments by Roach, Margarito agrees that De La Hoya is no longer able to “pull the trigger.”
“Now I know why Freddie said Oscar can't pull the trigger. He really can't pull the trigger. Now he's getting brave with a 135- pound fighter and is trying to convince everyone that is a tough fight. He's getting brave with a great fighter, but a fighter who fights at 135-pounds. He wants to show the world that he can pull the trigger against a 135-pounder! What a man! What a hero! What a businessman! Go ahead Oscar, show the world you can still pull that trigger,” Margarito said.
“Just remember Oscar, I've done everything you've asked for, won titles, been on the big stage, filled seats, sold pay per views, beaten Cotto. What else is there to do? What is your next excuse?”
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