by Peter Owen Nelson
Freddie Roach hates shaving, so it was with schadenfreude on Friday morning that he spoke eight words: “I’m going to make Margarito shave his beard.”
In Olympic boxing, beards are not permitted, but no clause technically bans beards in chapter 61 on combat sports of the Administrative Rules of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Roach, however, was convinced that “I will win this argument [with the commission].”
The stratagem was designed to make Margarito expose his chin against his will before he even entered the ring.
That argument over the hairy stalagtite dangling off Margarito’s chin would have taken place at 2 p.m. in the Longhorn Exhibit Hall of the Gaylord Hotel at the rules meeting. Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito would not be present for the meeting, but their teams would be.
Cornermen of the both camps gathered before representatives of the Texas State Athletic Commission and the World Boxing Council (the sanctioning body overseeing the title bout). Roach sat quietly. Margarito’s team of trainer and co-managers cross-examined the commission’s statements about electrolytes as regards to whether Margarito would be permitted to drink Gatorade. When asked if Margarito particularly likes Gatorade after all the fuss, his co-manager Sergio Diaz replied, “I don’t really know.”
The 8-ounce Reyes gloves to be used were then opened and each corner tested them. No beards were disputed, due to an unexpected man’s upending of Roach’s scheme: Manny Pacquiao.
An hour earlier, Roach exited Pacquiao’s fourth-floor suite after divulging his intent to his fighter. Pacquiao may have seen the value in distracting his opponent by demanding he deface himself, but the congressman of Sarangani would not comply, telling Roach, “I want him to keep the beard. It’s my target.”
Roach deferred to his fighter, saying, “Whatever he wants. If it makes Manny happy, we’ll keep the target — and hit Saturday all night long.”
The action is already gearing up in Dallas, and you can keep up with all of it right here at InsideFightWeek.com. In addition to delivering updates throughout the week, the team will be webcasting major events via Livestream, Facebook or right here on HBO.com's Boxing blog. Mark your calendars:
Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 1:30 pm ET
Catch the fighters’ workouts and then stick around as they answer fan questions submitted via Twitter.
Wednesday, Nov 10 at 2:00 pm ET
Spend your afternoon making assessments and forecasts. Boxing historian Bert Sugar and insider Kieran Mulvaney analyze strengths and strategies before the press conference begins at Cowboys Stadium, and then some of the sport’s top reporters cast their own final predictions.
Friday, Nov. 12 at 5:30 pm ET
Watch Pacquiao and Margarito weigh in and answer the questions of reporters and special guests at Cowboys Stadium before HBO commentators Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman and Emanuel Steward sit down for a roundtable discussion.