NEW YORK -- Manny Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach wanted the exact same thing that boxing fans everywhere wanted: Floyd Mayweather Jr.
They got Antonio Margarito instead.
Pacquiao and Roach said Wednesday that they agreed to every demand put forward by Mayweather for what could have been the richest fight in boxing history. But the former pound-for-pound king chose not to accept the fight, leaving Pacquiao to look elsewhere for a fall opponent.
He'll face Margarito, the former welterweight champ, on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium.
"I don't need him, he needs me," Pacquiao said of Mayweather, during a stop Wednesday in New York to promote his upcoming fight. "Compare my achievements in boxing to his achievements."
They've both achieved plenty, which is why fans have been clamoring for the high-profile matchup for the better part of two years -- and why so many are upset it hasn't happened.
The fight was nearly made in January, then fell apart when Pacquiao refused Olympic-style drug testing in the weeks leading up to the fight. But the newly minted Congressman from the Philippines said he's even agreed to the strict blood testing in an effort to make the fight, but he hasn't heard from Mayweather's side why an agreement couldn't be reached.
"We agree with, you know, his demands," Pacquiao said, referring specifically to the blood testing. "I wanted to know if that's his real reason (for not fighting)."
The entire negotiation process came to resemble an unsavory soap opera, with HBO Sports boss Ross Greenburg publicly stating that he had worked tirelessly as an intermediary between the two sides. Pacquiao's promoter Top Rank has a poor relationship with Mayweather, who rose to become a world champion under its banner, so it's not unreasonable to assume there was an intermediary.
Shortly after a deadline imposed by Top Rank for Mayweather to accept the fight had passed, his adviser Leonard Ellerbe issued a bizarre statement in which he said no negotiations ever took place -- contradicting Greenburg and the folks at Top Rank.
Roach said that Top Rank had been calling him for advice on what gloves to wear, what ring size to use, what weight to fight at -- standard details during a negotiation process.
"When people are calling me and asking me, 'Is this OK? Is this OK? Is this OK?' There's something going on," Roach said. "I know there must have been negotiations going on.
"Whatever he wanted to do, we were accepting it. Whatever he wanted. Manny said, 'I want to fight. I'll agree to anything.' I thought the fight was a shoo-in."
Roach was recently in Ukraine to watch one of his other fighters, Vyacheslav Senchenko, retain a welterweight title. But all he heard from fans were questions about Pacquiao-Mayweather -- not about Senchenko, and certainly not about Margarito.
"You know, I really truly think boxing needs that fight to happen," Roach said. "All people want to know, 'When's he fighting Mayweather?' Wherever I go, that's what I'm asked. People will get pissed off if that fight didn't happen."
Most of them aren't very happy that the Margarito fight is happening.
The former welterweight champion has become boxing's biggest heel after illegal hand wraps were discovered before a January 2009 loss to Shane Mosley in Los Angeles. Margarito insists he knew nothing about plaster-like inserts and blamed his former trainer, Javier Capetillo, but he's still been refused licenses to fight in California and Nevada recently.
Even Pacquiao finds it hard to believe that Margarito didn't know what was in his wraps.
"You know what goes in your hands," Pacquiao said, adding: "He's just human. There's not a perfect person in this world. We gave him a chance to fight."
If not for all the sidelights involving Mayweather and Margarito, the fight itself would still be one among the most interesting on an otherwise barren fall boxing calendar.
After all, Pacquiao will have a chance to win a title in a record-extending eighth weight division -- the fight will be for the WBC junior middleweight title, even though the catch weight is 150 pounds. And Margarito has a chance to show the world that he can beat boxing's best in a fair fight, even if he's much bigger than the pride of the Filipinos.
That the matchup will be held in Cowboys Stadium, where some are already estimating a crowd of 70,000 the night of the fight, only adds to the intrigue.
"Obviously I wanted Mayweather. I looked forward to that challenge," Roach said. "This fight is the second best. He's a good opponent, but he's very beatable."
PACQUIAO: MARGARITO KNEW ABOUT HAND WRAPS
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Manny Pacquiao believes in forgiveness. He also isn't forgetting why Antonio Margarito needs it.
Pacquiao said he just doesn't believe his next opponent was unaware he was wearing illegal hand wraps before a fight nearly two years ago. Though he agrees Margarito deserves a second chance in boxing, Pacquiao isn't buying Margarito's defense and the passionate arguments of Bob Arum, who promotes both fighters.
"Of course, I believe he knew," Pacquiao said. "He's the one who wraps his hands. He's just making some alibi for some reason. What do you think? My belief is you (would) know that."
During an otherwise genial get-together Tuesday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, boxing's pound-for-pound champion said he wants somebody watching Margarito's hands getting wrapped before they meet in Texas, which is hosting the bout partly because Margarito still is banned from the ring in Nevada and California.
"My concern is that we have somebody in the dressing room, someone else watching him," Pacquiao said.
Arum is fine with that, but still pleaded his client's innocence.
"Antonio Margarito did not know that those hand wraps were illegal, and there was something bad in those wraps," Arum said. "(There's) not one shred of proof."
Pacquiao's hand-wrap observers will make sure it isn't even more perilous to fight Margarito, whose promising career was derailed when trainer Javier Capetillo was caught packing his wraps with a substance resembling plaster before Margarito's loss to Sugar Shane Mosley in Los Angeles in January 2009.
"They're welcome to watch the wraps," Margarito said through a translator.
Margarito has been fairly defiant about his role in the scandal, which led to Capetillo's banishment from the sport and Margarito's inability to resume his career in California or Nevada, which generally respects another state's suspension.
"I was surprised we even got one vote from the California commission," Arum said. "They've made it clear what they think, and I'm not sure anything can change their minds. It's a shame, but it's the economic reality that the best place for this fight is Dallas."
HOLYFIELD SAYS BRING ON HAYE, KLITSCHKO BROS.:
LONDON -- Evander Holyfield wants to fight heavyweight champions David Haye and Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko.
Holyfield, a former heavyweight champ who turns 48 next month, defends his lightly regarded WBF title against Sherman Williams (34-11-2, 19 KOs) on Nov. 5 in Detroit. He won the belt in April by stopping 41-year-old Francois Botha in the eighth round.
But Holyfield lost on points to Nikolay Valuev and Sultan Ibragimov in his previous two fights. Haye has since taken Valuev's WBA belt and Wladimir Klitschko has won Ibragimov's WBO title, and Holyfield said Wednesday he now has those two fighters in his sights.
"I'm looking at both the Klitschko brothers and David Haye. I want to fight the people with the titles. My people have talked with the older Klitschko brother (Vitali) and his manager," Holyfield said of the WBC holder. "But right now everybody's busy with fights.
"The only thing that attracts them is that if they want a big pay day, they have got to fight somebody that the people know. I'm still the most popular heavyweight that is fighting. It's obvious that if they felt I was an easy fight, they would go ahead and fight me.
"But they realize they don't want to get duked by the old man. But if
they want to make money, I'm the guy they need to fight."
FAMED PROMOTER ARUM'S SON MISSING AFTER HIKING TRIP TO CASCADES:
SEATTLE -- Nearly two dozen mountaineers and park rangers are searching for the son of Hall of Fame boxing promoter Bob Arum, who's been missing since a weekend camping trip in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state.
John Arum was expected to arrive home Sunday after climbing Storm King, a rugged mountain peak about a seven-hour drive from Seattle. Family members grew worried when the 49-year-old environmental lawyer and accomplished hiker did not return.
North Cascades National Park spokeswoman Kerry Olson said that John Arum was reported missing Monday, and is thought to be by himself in the area around the mountain. So far, two days of searching -- including aerial sweeps of the region -- have not brought up any clues.
"He's a very experienced climber and hiker, and familiar with the territory," Olson said, adding that Arum had already summited a peak near the one he went missing on.
John Arum has been on a quest to climb the 100 highest summits in Washington.
Family members told The Associated Press on Wednesday that rangers had found his campsite, but there were indications that John Arum had not been there since Saturday.
"We're keeping our fingers crossed," said Bob Arum's son-in-law, Todd duBoef. "The last I talked to Bob, they were sending a helicopter up, but the area where he's missing, there's so much timber that it's hard to see anything. We're just waiting to hear something."
Bob Arum learned Tuesday that his eldest son was missing while in Los Angeles, at the start of a three-city media tour to promote Manny Pacquiao's next fight against Antonio Margarito. He left for Seattle that afternoon and connected with park rangers orchestrating the search.
DuBoef took over the rest of the media tour, with stops in New York on Wednesday and Dallas on Thursday. The fight is scheduled for Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"We miss him for this press conference and we feel bad with what happened to his son, and I pray for him," Pacquiao said Wednesday. "It's pretty quiet without Bob."
DuBoef said park rangers had been searching on foot for John Arum but had found no trace of him other than his campsite. Arum faced at least one day of adverse weather, and fog and rain had hampered efforts to cover the terrain by air.
"The terrain in the North Cascades is difficult. These mountains are steep," Olson said. "He had experience, but certainly there's a risk involved with mountaineering."
Storm King, the area in the Cascades where John Arum went missing, rises more than 8,500 feet above sea level. There are several hiking trails around the mountain, including a well-known loose rock route on the south face, and it stands in the background of Lake Chelan.
Family members said that John Arum had 18 peaks remaining to reach his goal of climbing the 100 highest in Washington State. Storm King is ranked No. 51.