By Madra Uladh: In a dazzling display of boxing finesse and ring generalship, Manny Pacquaio confounded the (few) doubters regarding his ability to perform his craft against the much taller and heavier Margarito. By the ninety second mark of round one, it was clear that Manny’s speed was going to bedevil the Mexican and his only chance would be to hang in and hope his stamina would outlast that of the Filipino.
But that didn’t happen. Margarito started out uncharacteristically, using a decent jab to try to force Pacquaio back. Pacquiao took a minute or so to adjust, responding with power shots. He took the first five rounds very decisively and even in the sixth, Tony’s best round, Pacquiao gave more than he took. His punches were devastatingly accurate and his timing and combinations completely befuddled the bigger man. Margarito, to his credit, gave it a game effort, landing some heavy artillery on the smaller fighter, even hurting him with a body shot in the sixth.
But he could only land in bursts now and again, and each time he did so, Pacquiao came back with even more. Margarito told his corner that Pacquiao didn’t have the power to hurt him, but his face told a different tale.
By the ninth round (which Manny took off and still won), Margarito needed a KO.
The tenth should probably have been scored 10-8 as Pacquiao out-landed his opponent fifty-one to nine and landed the harder, crisper shots. The eleventh was more of the same and should have been the last. Manny looked at the referee several times, as if urging him to call a halt to the flogging. Marg had nothing left at this point, and what little he landed had no effect on Pacquiao.
When Margarito came out for the twelfth, looking like he’d been in a serious accident, it appeared that Pacquiao decided to let him finish on his feet. He was ripe for the taking, but Manny was content to ease up and simply win the round.
While a weak argument could be made in Margarito’s favour for the sixth, incredibly, one judge found two rounds to award to the hapless Mexican. The second judge gave him one round and the third saw a shutout. I scored the bout 120-107.
This result puts Floyd Mayweather in an awkward spot. Pacquiao has now annihilated two fighters that Mayweather missed when he was more active, Cotto and Margarito. And while most, including me, have little doubt that Floyd would also have beaten both, the fact is he didn’t fight either one. Manny’s victory here solidifies his number one ranking in Ring’s pound for pound list. More importantly, in the absence of a head-to-head with Pacquiao, it will probably solidify his position in the eyes of most future observers as the best of his era.
Thus, for Floyd’s claims to the contrary to be given any credence, he needs to defeat the Filipino.
He certainly has the overall skills to do so, and on paper, might even appear to have the edge. But Pacquiao seems to give him pause for sober reflection. He knows he should win, and probably can win, but with each new master class put on by his rival, the doubts grow. Most in the boxing world put little credence on his claims regarding Pacquiao’s possible PED use, and a good number of boxing legends (Foreman, Hagler, Duran, Hopkins and others) have stated publicly that they believe he fears losing to Pacquaio. Thus, he is faced with the choice of retiring and losing what he feels is his rightful place in today’s pantheon, or stepping into the ring with a fighter, who, at a minimum, gives him some serious anxiety.
If Floyd declines to take the risk, Manny is starting to run out of meaningful opponents. Possible names include Mosley, Berto, Bradley, Alexander, and even Marquez. All are viable but none are on Mayweather’s level.
Margarito’s prospects are even bleaker. His best shot at some kind of redemption might be a rematch with Cotto.
But last night belonged to Manny Pacquaio. He has added to his legacy, and lobbed the ball directly into Floydís court..
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