|Manny Pacquiao vs David Diaz|
I have to be honest, I have never been a true believer in Manny Pacquiao, I have never been 100% sold on the idea that he is one of the greatest, all time fighters to ever step into the ring. He’s a damned good fighter and exciting, I’ll give him that and he’s certainly beaten some great fighters . The problem is that he’s beaten them when they were either past their primes, i.e, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, or already beaten by his “Pound for Pound” rival Floyd Mayweather Jr., i.e., Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya. In Oscar’s case he was not only past his prime and already beaten by Mayweather (Oscar lost a split decision to Floyd on May 5, 2007) but he suffered from severe weight loss in preparing for the fight after giving in to Pacquiao‘s incessant demands for a catch weight.
Couple that with Manny’s two highly controversial fights with Juan Manuel Marquez; the first, a draw in May of 2004 and a split decision win in 2008 that should have gone to Marquez, in the view of many boxing fans, including myself, and sportswriters. I’m not trying to re-win those fights for Marquez either, it is what it is, but I am trying to give some perspective on Pacquiao. His fight with Joshua Clottey exposed some chinks in Pacquiao’s armor. Clottey, who rarely threw a punch during his fight with Pacquiao, never really put forth the effort to win that fight but on the rare occasion when he actually decided to fight and throw a punch he had some success, he just never followed through.
In many ways, I liken Manny Pacquiao’s career to Mike Tyson‘s. Tyson was a juggernaut that steamrolled over almost all of his opposition but if you look back at his career you’ll see that he didn’t fight the best of his day. Both Manny’s and Mike Tyson’s career record will back up everything I say. Look for yourself if you don’t believe me. When Tyson faced Evander Holyfield, a fighter almost everyone believed was washed up at the time and on the verge of being dangerously beaten by Tyson, he faced a fighter that win, lose or draw, had indeed fought the best. I don’t have to tell you how that fight ended. Holyfield to some degree was fighting for redemption. Considered, old and over the hill with medical problems, and small for a heavyweight, Holyfield was fighting for his worth as a fighter. He was trying to prove something .
I know a couple of guys that have served time in prison. They made a mistake and paid for their crimes. They were caught red handed, arrested, put on trial, found guilty and they served their time. They paid for their crimes and moved on. Antonio Margarito never really had his day in court but was convicted none the less. He served his time, so to speak, that was meted out to him. I’m not defending his actions either, what I am saying is this, Margarito did his time and like it or not, every man deserves a second chance. Even O.J. Simpson didn’t catch this much flak. Okay, maybe O.J. did but you get my point.
The argument has always been, Margarito could have killed Sugar Shane Mosley if he had fought with, what is called “ trace elements of plaster of Paris”. I won’t argue in defense of that, but consider this, Shane Mosley was found to have had performance enhancing drugs in his system during his second fight with Oscar De La Hoya ( a fight I thought Oscar won). Now I have nothing but love for Sugar Shane, he is without a doubt one of my favorite fighters and is a shoo in for the Hall of Fame when his career is over, but why is he being given a pass?
Fighters have been dieing in the ring since the sport began, with out any drugs involved, that being the case, a fighter using steroids or any other drug, could conceivably kill a fighter in the ring. So why the pass? At the very least, Margarito has paid for his crime with his year suspension from boxing and a giant loss of respect and credibility, and that’s on him.
|Antonio Margarito vs Miguel Cotto|
Margarito has never been one of my favorite fighters, though I never disliked him either and I’m not particularly fond of cheaters but I do believe in second chances. That’s the very essence of America. This country was founded by men and women seeking second chances. Margarito deserves no less.
All that being said, I really believe that Pacquiao is one of the greatest of his era and the more skilled fighter of the two and that he has all the momentum going into this fight but I also believe he and Freddie Roach are taking the fight and a victory for granted. I can’t tell if all the talk by Roach about Manny being distracted and not putting forth the effort in camp is just a ploy or if it’s real.
Margarito for his part is taking nothing for granted and seems to be in the best mental and physical shape of his life. Regardless of what the rest of us may think, Antonio Margarito has turned this into a battle of redemption. Whether he will be redeemed or not after this fight is anyone’s guess but he believes it. It’s his cause and a man with a cause is hard to beat and that’s where he will be drawing his strength from.
To my way of thinking, Margarito’s only chance of winning is by knockout and I believe that will be his battle plan. He has to know he is not going to outbox Pacquiao nor will he out speed him and he certainly will not out number him when it comes to throwing punches. No, his only chance will be to absorb everything Pacquiao throws at him and then get his own punches in. Of the two, he is the bigger and stronger fighter. He will use that to his advantage.
Despite the cheating scandal and loss to Mosley, Margarito has always had a stout heart and chin and I believe that he is coming to win. Can his quest for redemption and respect overcome the will, determination and speed of Manny Pacquiao? We’ll see! As always, may the best man win.
Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito will be duking it out this Saturday, November 13, at the Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas for the vacant WBC Junior Middleweight title. It will be broadcast on HBO/PPV.
Pacquiao - Margarito Dallas press conference photo slideshow