Margarito retreats after mocking Roach
GRAPEVINE, Texas – Antonio Margarito unexpectedly showed up at the undercard news conference Thursday in the Gaylord Texan hotel to apologize to trainer Freddie Roach for mocking him in a video that was released late Tuesday on Fanhouse.com.
Margarito, who fights Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at Cowboys Stadium, was videotaped along with trainer Robert Garcia and undercard fighter Brandon Rios apparently mocking Roach’s Parkinson’s symptoms.
Margarito said he was only reacting to a statement from Fanhouse reporter Elie Seckbach telling him that Roach had said Pacquiao would knock him out. He said when he shook his hands, he was only attempting to pretend he was afraid.
“I want you to know I would never make fun of Freddie Roach or anyone with that disease,” Margarito said. “I have someone in my family who has it. I’ll tell you how it happened: There was a guy in the gym with a camera and he said, ‘Freddie Roach said you’re going to be knocked out.’ I shook my hands and said, ‘Oh, I’m really scared now.’ ”
Earlier in the news conference, Rios began his remarks by apologizing. He was clearly mocking Roach, but said Thursday he made a bad mistake.
“I take responsibility for what I did,” Rios said. “I’m a man about it. It was wrong and I’m sorry.”
Roach was extraordinarily angry after seeing the video late Tuesday, and when Garcia attempted to apologize at the main-event news conference on Wednesday, Roach didn’t accept it and said he felt it was not sincere.
But after a brief telephone conversation on Thursday, Roach said he accepted Garcia’s apology and planned to put the incident behind him.
“He gave me what seemed like a very sincere apology,” Roach said. “He told me I’d always opened my door to him, got him sparring partners and helped him along the way. I told him I accepted his apology and ‘Let’s just move on with the fight now.’
“I would shake [Margarito’s] hand to end this. I think they realize what they did was maybe a little bit too much; they went overboard. I didn’t talk to [Garcia] about the video. He said I was throwing stuff at them and they wanted to throw back at me. He said, ‘You’re the greatest trainer in the world; I know that. If I beat you, I know you’ll still be the greatest. You’ve had way more champions than I have. You’ve always been good to me. You’ve always let me come to your gym,’ which is true. So I accepted his apology.”
Seckbach, who bills himself as the “embedded correspondent,” had been barred from Garcia’s gym by HBO’s Mark Taffet. HBO’s contract with promoters when doing a “24/7” series does not permit media while it is filming, except during open-media events such as news conferences. Taffet said Seckbach was constantly in the gym and was getting in the way of the “24/7” crew, who complained to him that they couldn’t do their work with Seckbach in the way.
Taffet phoned Top Rank public relations director Lee Samuels, who had Seckbach banned from the gym. Roach personally banned Seckbach from his Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles.