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Manny Pacquiao acknowledges fans during a workout session in Grapevine, Texas, November 9, 2010. Pacquiao will face Antonio Margarito in the World Super Welterweight Championship on Saturday. REUTERS/Tim Sharp

MANILA — No matter the outcome of his fight against Antonio Margarito this weekend, Manny Pacquiao will continue to be recognized as WBO welterweight champion, it was disclosed yesterday by Filipino boxing referee and judge Danrex Tapdasan who attended the governing body’s annual convention in Colombia recently.
Pacquiao is moving up in weight to battle Margarito for the vacant WBC superwelterweight crown at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, this Saturday night (Sunday morning, Manila). Win or lose, the Filipino ring icon will stay on the WBO throne.


Tapdasan and Filipino promoter Sammy Gello-ani represented the country at the convention presided by WBO chief executive Francisco Valcarcel, a Puerto Rican lawyer. The Philippines was prominently in the WBO agenda as Pacquiao was named Fighter of the Year and Gello-ani the Oriental Promoter of the Year. The WBO recognizes three world champions from the Philippines – minimumweight Donnie Nietes, superbantamweight Ana Julaton and Pacquiao. Additionally, there are 18 Filipinos ranked in the top 10 in eight divisions from minimumweight to superfeatherweight.
The WBO Asia-Pacific president is Hawaiian Leon Panoncillo who is of Filipino descent.
Tapdasan said during the convention, several promoters openly lobbied for their fighters to be named official challengers of Pacquiao after the Margarito bout. Golden Boy pushed for former IBF lightwelterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi despite losing to Amir Khan on an 11th round stoppage in New York City last May. Australian promoter Fidel Tukel argued for No. 9 contender and WBO Oriental champion Sam Columban whose list of victims includes Filipinos Junmar Dulog, Rey Olarte, Ariel Omongos and Jun Geraldino.
A suggestion was made to stage a tournament involving the top four WBO contenders – No. 1 Kell Brook of the United Kingdom, No. 2 Mike Jones of Philadelphia, No. 3 Saul (Canelo) Alvarez of Mexico and No. 4 Vitaliy Demyanenko of Kazakhstan. The survivor of the proposed series will earn a shot at Pacquiao’s welterweight belt.
Golden Boy vice president Eric Gomez said Pacquiao will easily beat Margarito and pointed to Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the only credible opponent for the Filipino in either the 147-pound or 154-pound division.
There are three other “world” welterweight champions aside from Pacquiao. The WBC titlist is Florida’s 27-year-old Andre Berto whose record is 26-0, with 20 KOs. The IBF recognizes Slovenia’s 34-year-old Jan Zaveck (30-1, 17 KOs) and the WBA king is Ukraine’s 32-year-old Vyacheslav Senchenko (31-0, 20 KOs) who is trained by Freddie Roach.
Pacquiao has no intention to unify the welterweight title particularly as Senchenko, Zaveck and Berto are hardly marketable opponents. It appears that after Margarito, the only fighter who deserves a crack at Pacquiao is the undefeated Mayweather. Talks have in fact started to stage a Pacquiao-Mayweather trilogy starting in May next year.
Even if Pacquiao captures the WBC superwelterweight title, he will likely give up the crown and slide back to the welterweight class which suits his natural walking weight. A Pacquiao-Mayweather fight will likely set a weight limit of 147.
Tapdasan said in a discussion on the superfeatherweight division, Valcarcel promised a higher ranking to the winner of the Nov. 27 fight between No. 6 Rey Labao and No. 10 Will Tomlinson in Australia. Labao, a Filipino, is promoted by Gello-ani.
In the flyweight division, Tapdasan said he was startled when Valcarcel offered the No. 1 slot to WBO lightflyweight champion Ramon Garcia if he moves up in weight. Brian Viloria is now ranked No. 1.
“Valcarcel advised Garcia that if he decides to go up to 112, he’ll be No. 1,” reported Tapdasan. “With the guarantee, it appears that Viloria will lose his No. 1 ranking. Mexican promoter Hector Garcia announced that Ramon Garcia would relinquish his lightflyweight title and move up to flyweight. Viloria’s No. 1 ranking was put in jeopardy.”
Viloria’s manager Gary Gittelsohn, however, said no demotion is imminent particularly as the Hawaiian Punch just scored a seventh round knockout over Thai Liempetch Sor Veerapol.
“Paco (Valcarcel) is a good friend and he wouldn’t think of demoting Brian without first consulting me,” said Gittelsohn. “We’re finalizing Brian’s fight against WBO champion Julio Cesar Miranda and we expect it to be held in late February or early March.”
In the minimumweight division, Panoncillo confirmed that Nietes was recently cut in training and unable to face former IBF titlist Raul Garcia of Mexico. Garcia won the interim title by defeating Luis de la Rosa in Colombia last Oct. 30 and is lined up as Nietes’ next challenger.
The WBO was established in 1988 by Puerto Rican and Dominican Republic boxing officials who broke away from the WBA. Ramon Acevedo of the Dominican Republic was the first WBO president and former world lightheavyweight champion Jose Torres of Puerto Rico was the second. Valcarcel took over as WBO president in 1996.