Despite the strong objections of some, Manny Pacquiao will be making his return to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on November 13th as he faces Antonio Margarito for the vacant WBC junior middleweight title. While some are trying to turn this into a morality play, the reality is that this is the boxing business. The reason why this bout has been made is very simple- there is a lot of money to be made from it.
While some boxing scribes are trying to play the role of moral arbiter (but will still be there at ringside to cover this fight, regardless), the brutal underlying truth is that boxing is a series of individual transactions that are designed to benefit the organizers (in this case, Bob Arum) and its participants (Pacquiao and Margarito). No matter how loudly and vehemently some will scream atop their soapbox, there's no doubt about it; this fight will do very well, both at the gate and on pay-per-view.
And putting all that aside, based on the history and temperament of both boxers, we should have an entertaining- if one-sided- scrap on our hands.
"It's a fight, man," said Arum, whose company Top Rank is promoting this event. "One thing you know about it, it's a fight. It's not a boxing contest; neither guy is going to box much. It's a fight. It's going to be very, very entertaining for the public. One guy has the advantage in speed and the other guy has the advantage in size and strength. It's an interesting fight."
As for the critics of this match-up, Arum, who has steadfastly defended Margarito from the beginning, told Maxboxing, "They write about it; they don't write about it; what really irritates me is the fact that there is not one fact, at all, to indicate that Margarito knew that there was anything wrong with the hand wraps. As long as that's the case, you cannot gloss over that by saying, 'He must've known.' What do you mean, he must've known?! What kinda legal standard is that? 'He must've known.’"
Pacquiao's adviser, Mike Koncz got into the act by stating flatly, "It's a business; we have to look at it as a business." But he then scolded those who are opposed to this promotion. "So I just wish that if you're not going to support the fight, maybe, don't write anything about it. It's going to be a good fight. Styles make fights."
Pacquiao, who caused quite the stir by stating to a group of reporters that he believed Margarito knew what was on his hands before his ill-fated fight versus Shane Mosley in January of 2009, said of his opponent, "Margarito is different; he is an aggressive fighter. He wants to fight, toe-to-toe, and he throws a lot of punches."
What was evident was that Margarito is much bigger than Pacquiao as they posed for pictures.
"Yes, he's much bigger," conceded the most well-known congressman from the Philippines. "I think he's taller than Oscar De La Hoya. It's going to be hard for me but I have to train hard and focus on his style and his advantages."
As for Margarito, he told the large gathering inside the Rodeo Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Tuesday afternoon, "Not much to say, I've been asking for this fight for a long time. I'm very happy and motivated that it's here. I want to thank Manny for taking this fight. Everything that has happened is in the past, we're now in the present. It's time to show everyone that I'm still very good and nobody will want to miss this fight. It'll be a great fight and now is the present; forget the past."
But that is wishful thinking. Margarito has been branded with boxing's version of the scarlet letter. Some will never forgive or forget (which is certainly their prerogative) about what happened that night in the Staples Center locker room. It's a burden Margarito will have to carry the rest of his career. But this fight could have some redemptive sway.
"Tony is motivated to prove himself," said his trainer, Robert Garcia, "because this is a big challenge for him and this is the type of fight he wants. Of course, he's got to prove to the people. There's a lot of negative people in the business that just don't believe him. But this is the time for him to prove everybody wrong, show that he's a real fighter, show that he doesn't have to cheat to win fights. And this is the perfect fight, the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.
"This is the perfect time for him to prove everybody wrong."
As for Pacquiao, well, he is certainly no moralist here, just a prizefighter trying to make a living. He admits, the choice to make the Margarito fight wasn't really his.
"Well, this is the fight Bob Arum introduced me to and I accepted," said Pacquiao.
While Margarito towers over Pacquiao, he is also glacier-like when it comes to speed and quickness compared to the quicksilver southpaw. But Garcia says he still sees flaws in the “Pac-Man” that can be exploited.
"Oh, big time," he stated, "since I learned about this fight getting close to being made, for the past month-and-a-half, two months, I've been watching his fights and the fight he lost to Morales; the two fights with Marquez are perfect examples to pick up a lot of things. The fights where he looked great against Cotto, against De La Hoya. Those fights. I'm just watching fights everyday and there's a lot of things.
"I'm going to be working with Margarito to neutralize his speed, his power,” added Garcia. “It doesn't take a scientist to know that we have to pursue him and stay on top of him, throwing four, five-punch combinations should be the thing to do with Manny Pacquiao."
Easier said than done.
Another element of this fight that has some apoplectic is the fact that while this fight is being sanctioned by the WBC for their vacant 154-pound belt, there is a catchweight for this fight at 150 pounds.
But Arum, as bombastic and pugnacious as ever, says, "The problem is, a lot of the people who are writing about the sport either A) are not qualified or B) have short memories or C) have no real background in the history of the sport. I mean, we did catchweights in some of the biggest fights in the ‘80s with Leonard and Hearns- we always had catchweights."
I did not know this but the rematch between those two aforementioned legends, according to the Hall-of-Fame promoter, had a weight limit of 162 pounds.
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