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Margarito-Williams Unlikely, As Cotto Bout Looms

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By Mark Vester

According to a recent report by boxing scribe Dan Rafael, undefeated Paul "The Punisher" Williams is not likely to face WBO welterweight champion Antonio Margarito in the near future.

Williams, the mandatory challenger to Margarito's belt, has been screaming for a shot since the start of 2006, but now that a June pay-per-view bout with WBA champ Miguel Cotto is on the horizon, Margarito is probably not going to face Williams until after the Cotto date. The problem in the situation is that by not facing Williams, there is a good chance that the WBO will strip Margarito of his title.

Top Rank head Bob Arum says that due to a wrist injury suffered in his last bout on Decemeber 2 with Joshua Clottey, Margarito is either going to hang back until the Cotto bout in June, fight a non-title tuneup on the Cotto-Urkal undercard, or give Williams his mandatory shot. Arum did note to Rafael that giving Williams a shot at Margarito is at the bottom of the three choices.

"We met with Margarito's people and laid everything out to them, and told them to sleep on it," Arum said. "He'll either lay off until a Cotto fight, fight a nontitle fight on the Cotto card or do the mandatory. But I think the mandatory is in third place."

The final choice will be made when he sees a medical report on Margarito's wrist, and if the report gives the green light, Margarito could see action on the Cotto undercard in a 10-round tuneup.

Cotto still has a mandatory date with Oktay Urkal on March 3, in Puerto Rico, and the network to air the bout is still up in the air. HBO appears to be the favorite to televise the fight, unless Showtime matches their offer by Monday. The network to televise the Cotto-Urkal bout, is likely going to land the rights to the proposed June 9 pay-per-view bout between Cotto and Margarito.
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