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Pacquiao’s foe causes controversy

The Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas — Antonio Margarito has repeatedly said he is sorry for a hand-wrapping scandal that almost ended his boxing career. Now, his camp has had to apologize again, for something else only days before getting into the ring against welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao.

A video interview posted by Elie Seckbach of FanHouse recently raced across the Internet, in which Margarito and Brandon Rios — both of whom are trained by Robert Garcia — appear to mock the Parkinson’s disease of Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach.

Before even talking about the junior middleweight title bout during a news conference Wednesday at Cowboys Stadium, Garcia first apologized for the video.

“This was nothing to do with the disease that Freddie Roach has. We know it’s something that we don’t wish nobody,” Garcia said yesterday. “It’s something personal, something between Team Pacquiao and Team Margarito. I just wanted to make that clear.”

When Roach was at the podium a few minutes later, he didn’t acknowledge what Garcia said or even refer to the video. After the formal program was completed, though, Roach said he wasn’t buying Garcia’s apology.

In the video, Margarito makes a twisted face and raises a shaking hand for the camera before it pans to Rios, who also makes faces and stutters while saying Pacquiao’s name.

The video has since been edited to remove Rios and make it appear as though Margarito is doing a scared impression of Roach, who has routinely questioned Margarito’s integrity following the hand-wrapping scandal nearly two years ago.

Garcia also takes part in the mockery by holding up a thick chunk of metal and telling Roach he’d better watch as Margarito’s hands are wrapped so that it doesn’t end up under the tape.

“They’re so disrespectful to me and the hand pad issues. … It’s like a slap in the face, like ‘we got caught with something, but we’re still here fighting. ‘ I think it shows his true character. I don’t think they are a good group of people,” Roach said. “I’m not going to bother Manny Pacquiao with that. Manny doesn’t hate anybody and so forth, but I do hate those guys.”

Pacquiao said he hadn’t seen the video.

Roach does plan to make sure Margarito is being watched when his hands are wrapped before Saturday night’s bout. That’s not a joke.

“I will watch him. I asked the (Texas) commission to have a person from my camp in their training room from start to finish, and they can do the same with me,” Roach said, adding that his request was approved. “I don’t trust those guys. He’ll do anything to win. He’s done it before. He’s a cheater.”

The bout will be Pacquiao’s second at Cowboys Stadium, where more than 50,000 fans are expected to attend along with an expected pay-per-view audience of 1 million or more.

In March at the $1.2 billion showplace, Pacquiao dominated Joshua Clottey from the opening bell to retain his welterweight title with an unanimous decision.

Pacquiao has since been elected a congressman in his native Philippines, a job that initially seemed to be affecting his training for this fight. He even missed a day of workouts.

“Everything is back to normal,” Roach said, declaring Pacquiao ready for the fight. “It was never physical. It was all mental. His mental focus wasn’t there.”

Margarito, the former welterweight champion, was approved to fight in Texas after being denied a license in California and having another application in Nevada tabled.

Promoter Bob Arum again yesterday applauded the decision by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and defended Margarito. Both Pacquiao and Margarito fight under Arum’s Top Rank banner.

“When other people in boxing, some other commissions feasted on innuendoes, lies and smears, this commission read the record, read every scrap from the California hearing to the appeals,” Arum said. “For 18 months (Margarito) has gone through hell, but he’s taken it like a man, he’s accepted it and believe me on Saturday night he will give you the fight of his life.”


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