The Pay-Per-View Running Diary: Pacquiao vs. Margarito
If you boycotted the Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito pay-per-view on Saturday night on moral grounds ÔÇö or simply made the conscious consumer’s decision to save your $60 for something else ÔÇö you missed a reasonably entertaining show. But fear not; thanks to the RingTV.com pay-per-view running diary, it’ll feel like you were there.
Unfortunately, by “there,” I don’t mean Cowboys Stadium. I mean THE RING Managing Editor Joe Santoliquito’s living room. The crowd for this PPV included our gracious host Joe, my Ring Theory co-host Bill Dettloff and two friends of Joe’s who requested running-diary anonymity. It was just the right size crew. Five people means you get a solid, free-flowing conversation, but not so much screaming and yelling that you can’t hear what the broadcasters are saying. And that’s crucial, because if you can’t hear them, you can’t mock them in your running diary.
The scene was a bit unusual at the outset in that Joe had prior obligations and wasn’t able to get home by 9:00 p.m. Eastern time for the start of the PPV, meaning I had to let myself in and start the evening as a one-man running-diary crew. Here’s how it went down:
9:07 p.m.: As the bell rings for the opening bout, HBO’s Max Kellerman quickly calls Brandon Rios “fat and out of shape,” which is not necessarily as redundant as it sounds. Remember, for years, George Foreman was fat and in shape. On a related note, ever since Kellerman appeared on Ring Theory in September, I haven’t been able to read the name “Brandon Rios” without mentally hearing it in Max’s voice with Max’s syllabic emphasis. Tonight’s festivities will only enhance this condition.
9:10: Opponent Omri Lowther, who is neither fat nor out of shape, might have boxed his way to 10 points in the first round. And how is it possible that we just got through an entire round and Rios’ tasteless Freddie Roach impression hasn’t been mentioned yet by the commentators?
9:15: One of Joe’s friends arrives and I’m no longer watching alone. I still kind of feel like a loser, but not quite as much of one as I did a minute ago.
9:19: As Rios dishes out an increasingly one-sided beating, blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley informs us “the functional weight difference in the ring tonight will be 17 pounds” for the main event. Yeah, but that’s kind of an inaccurate stat. It’s really only 16 pounds, 13 ounces once you subtract mullet and goatee weight.
9:25: A huge right hand to the jaw staggers Lowther, and referee Raul Caiz Jr. seems just about ready to stop the fight. He does jump in about 30 seconds later, calling a halt at 2:17 of the fifth round. Perfect stoppage. Remember this in about three hours, when the worst referee in Texas is worried more about how his hair looks than about the health and safety of one of the fighters in the main event.
9:27: I hope at least one dollar of each pay-per-view purchased goes directly into the pocket of the guy who invented super-slo-mo.
9:34: It’s time for our second fight, and Lampley is pronouncing Guillermo Rigondeaux’s surname “Riggin-dee-ow,” whereas I always thought it was “Riggin-doe.” Since Lamps is pretty much never wrong about this stuff, from now on, “Riggin-dee-ow” it is.
9:38: Dettloff arrives and immediately starts in with excuses about road construction and confusing directions. I waste little time informing him that David Haye knocked out Audley Harrison in Manchester earlier in the day, earning me a much-needed extra point in our Ring Theory “Quick Picks” competition. By the way, for those picking Margarito to beat Pacquiao (I’m looking at you, Teddy Atlas), please note that Harrison had a 43-pound functional weight advantage over Haye.
9:48: We get our first look inside Pacquiao’s locker room, where we see boxing writer Tom Hauser jotting down notes as “Pac-Man” ties his shoes. Tom, your article had better tell me whether Manny uses the bunny-ears double-loop technique or the more traditional loop-and-swoop. (Meanwhile, Hauser is probably only pretending to watch Pacquiao get ready, when in fact his time backstage is all spent gathering dirt on HBO executives from his secret informants.)
9:50: Ricardo Cordoba goes down on a delayed reaction to a Rigondeaux bodyshot. In Quick Picks, I need a Rigondeaux knockout win and Bill needs a Rigondeaux decision. Naturally, Bill is screaming, “Get up!” while I’m imploring the ref to stop the fight.
9:57: Joe arrives, along with his other friend, and most importantly, they have hoagies. Now it’s officially a pay-per-view party.
9:59: We’d all almost stopped paying attention to the rather dull fight in favor of helping ourselves to food, but Rigondeaux hitting the canvas ÔÇö from a jab, no less ÔÇö gets our attention.
10:00: Somehow, the conversation shifts to “shrinkage.” I’m really not sure how we got there, but I’ll go ahead tie it back in with what we’re watching: I think the Guillermo Rigondeaux bandwagon just got out of the pool.
10:01: The moment you’ve all been waiting for: Roach watching Margarito get his hands wrapped. It’s every bit as anticlimactic as it sounds. Thankfully, we can entertain ourselves by making “Ming The Merciless” jokes at Margarito’s expense.
10:26: Rigondeaux gets the decision (of the surprisingly scary, split variety), and Bill gains back the Quick Picks point he lost. Meanwhile, we’re taking a look at the various Twitter updates across the boxing universe, and I’m explaining to my cohorts ÔÇö none of whom are on Twitter ÔÇö how much fun it is to follow Lou DiBella and watch him curse up a storm in 140 characters or less. With most Tweeters, you get a dozen mind-numbingly boring Tweets for every interesting one. But Lou is among the exceptions. DiBella, poker player Erik Seidel and Conan O’Brien are on my short list of people I follow who almost never send a dull Tweet.
10:35: It’s time for our hometown boy, Philly’s Mike Jones, vs. Jesus Soto-Karass, and we count 3,143 regional alphabet belts being held up in the ring by members of both camps. After sanctioning fees are factored in, Jones will be taking home a nickel for this fight, and Soto-Karass will be $75 in the red.
10:41: Chaos at Casa de Santoliquito: One of his friends spills Coke all over the living room rug, and almost simultaneously, Jones hurts Soto-Karass and goes absolutely nuts swinging for the knockout. It’s never been more obvious that a fighter was going to leave himself completely punched out if he didn’t finish the job, and wouldn’t you know, Soto-Karass survives and rallies back against an exhausted Jones. Add in Soto-Karass’ blood spilling everywhere (other than Joe’s carpet, fortunately), and you have an all-around thrilling round. “We had more action in that one round than the whole 12 rounds of the previous fight,” says HBO’s Emanuel Steward.
10:43: Joe is going to town cleaning the carpet, scrubbing in various directions with various substances, and I remark that his technique suggests training at the hands of Mr. Miyagi. (Little did I know this wouldn’t be the last Karate Kid reference of the night.)
10:46: Jones is doing a lot of standing around and not a lot of swinging. For Philadelphia sports fans, it’s Ryan Howard all over again. (Yes, I’m still bitter. You swing at anything close on a 3-2 count, dammit!)
10:57: After nearly a half-hour of bizarre, ultimately meaningless locker room controversy over Pacquiao’s perfectly kosher hand wraps and Margarito’s perfectly kosher prefight beverages, Kellerman announces he has in his possession a packet of Splenda. I would explain in more detail, but if you watched the telecast, you know what I’m talking about, and if you didn’t watch it, you’re better off not knowing.
11:00: Ironic that a restaurant called “Wing Stop” is advertising on one of the ring posts, since that has turned into Jones’ strategy: wing for one round, stop for the next eight. And yes, I’m exaggerating. The reality is that, as exhausted as Jones has been, he’s been digging deep and keeping the fight close.
11:14: We’re in round 10 of a fight that we all think Jones has probably eked out. Bill notes that, as flawed as the Philly welterweight prospect has looked, this could be just the sort of gut check he needed to continue his development as a fighter.
11:16: The fight is over, and we’re playing the “predict Gale Van Hoy’s scorecard” game. I’m going with 100-82. For either fighter.
11:17: Michael Buffer reads the cards, and Van Hoy actually has it a reasonable 94-94 (though I’m not sure how he found two 10-8 rounds along the way). The other two judges score it closely in favor of Jones. The right guy won, and that’s not just the Philly in me talking.
11:19: Punch Zone informs us that Jones made Soto-Karass’ left eye red and his right eye orange, while yellowing up his chin.
11:20: Lampley tells us it will be about 20 minutes before the main event fighters begin their ring walks. Bill suggests that instead of the usual highlight clips and expert analysis, all the round-card girls should get in the ring and make out for the next 20 minutes. Nobody in Joe’s living room objects to this plan.
11:23: It wouldn’t be an HBO PPV without Lamps on the verge of tears, right? Somehow, he’s getting a little glassy-eyed and lumpy-throated talking about “one man,” Pacquiao, whose fan following is such that it’s forcing Jim to wear a headset to hear himself. Bill and I agree, if we ever have Jim guest on Ring Theory, the goal is to make him cry.
11:28: As some dude named Yahir sings the Mexican national anthem, I’m forced to ask: Are there any Mexicans who do not currently have a mullet?
11:33: We can all agree that KO Nation was a disastrous failure on every level, right? So why is my boxing program being interrupted by a Nelly performance? I have no beef with Nelly in particular, but this has absolutely nothing to do with boxing.
11:41: Nelly is still going. I’ve officially lost eight minutes of badly needed sleep tonight on account of this crap. Damn you, MMA, for making Bob Arum think he needs to give us garbage like this.
11:49: Pacquiao is entering the ring to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” Normally, I would object to anyone using Arturo Gatti’s ring walk song. But Pacquiao has carte blanche.
11:50: The entrance music just transitioned to “You’re The Best Around,” which anyone with even the slightest appreciation for great ’80s cinema knows as the soundtrack to the All-Valley Karate Championship in The Karate Kid! I’ve been waiting my whole life for a fighter to enter to this song. Seriously. Dreams really do come true.
11:52: It’s been a gradual geometrical transformation, but now it’s official: Laurence Cole’s head is a perfect square.
11:53: Buffer includes in his prefight spiel, “and the millions around the world who wish they could be here ÔÇª” I wonder if he also mocks the people in the coach cabin when he’s flying first-class.
11:57: As Pacquiao dominates the opening round, Steward takes the angle that a busy but mostly ineffective jab from Margarito equals a close round and a likely long night for Pacquiao. Far be it from me to tell one of the greatest trainers of all-time that he doesn’t know what the hell he’s watching, but at this particular moment, he doesn’t know what the hell he’s watching.
12:03 a.m.: Kellerman observes during round three that “it’s been a long time since Pacquiao looked vulnerable.” If by “a long time” he means two fights, since the first four rounds of the Miguel Cotto fight, then yes, it’s been a long time. Anyway, this is shaping up as a fight where the people who predicted utter domination from Pacquiao will be correct, but the people who predicted he’d have to work hard for the win and endure a bit of punishment will be correct also.
12:08: In the fourth round, Margarito is bruising up under his right eye, and Pacquiao hurts him badly with a bodyshot, leading to a brutal onslaught and arguably a 10-8 round. I can’t think of another fighter in history who threw powerpunches more accurately than Pacquiao does.
12:15: Bill observes that it’s smaller, faster, more technically sound opponents, like Juan Manuel Marquez and Floyd Mayweather, who can give Pacquiao problems, whereas bigger, slower guys like Margarito will always take a beating from him. I wish there was no ceiling on that statement; in other words, how fun would it be to watch Pacquiao do this to a Klitschko?
12:25: In the span of a few seconds, Lampley casually drops in the words “banging” and “bang.” You know what’s coming next, right? Yes! There it is! He yelled “Bang!” as Pacquiao landed a big punch! It was just a single shot of “Bang!” rather than a multi-“Bang!” combination, but I’ll take it.
12:31: Michele Margarito is smiling and clapping between rounds as her husband takes the pounding of his life. I’m not sure how to interpret this. Maybe the greatness of Pacquiao is such that he can even get his opponents’ wives to start rooting for him.
12:34: Pacquiao hurts Margarito with a right hook in the 10th, convincing me that someone ÔÇö either Cole or Margarito’s corner ÔÇö should stop the fight between rounds.
12:37: In the 11th, Pacquiao sees what both Cole and Margarito’s corner are apparently oblivious to and starts motioning for the ref to stop the fight, just as he did in the late rounds of the Cotto fight. Bill sarcastically commends Cole on his bravery. Cole calls timeout to take a look at Margarito’s grotesque eye, prompting a perfectly delivered line from Kellerman: “The issue is not Margarito’s eye at this point, it’s his brain.”
12:40: Robert Garcia tells Margarito to “work the jab” heading into the final round. It’s a little late for him to box his way to a points victory. How about you work the white towel instead, Robert?
12:44: The fight has been over for only about a minute, and already the scorecards are tabulated. The room collectively lets out a “What?!” when the score of 118-110 from Glen Crocker is announced. Sorry, but even Betty Crocker knows Margarito didn’t win two rounds in that fight. It’s immaterial, however, as Pacquiao gets the win. And, no, I’m not going to be one of the sheep who parrots (sorry for the mixed animal references) the absurd BS about how many titles he has now won. Two guys who had done nothing to get ranked at 154 pounds just fought for a belt that rightfully belongs to Sergio Martinez. If you want to call that a world championship fight, all you are is an unpaid member of Jose Sulaiman’s payroll.
12:53: How badly does Kellerman want to see Pacquiao-Mayweather? As the show wraps up, he’s somehow trying to build a case that Pacquiao is slowing down, presumably in hopes of tricking Mayweather into fighting him in 2011. It’s a pretty absurd angle, but hey, why not? Floyd, if you’re reading this, Manny looked like a completely shot fighter on Saturday night. You could beat him so easily, you might even have time to steal his cell phone afterward.
12:56: And the broadcast is over. Now would be the perfect time for a live performance from Nelly. You know, so I can walk out on it.
ÔÇó Good luck with that protest, Allan Green. How dare Glen Johnson punch you with a gloved fist in the middle of a boxing match!
ÔÇó Others have said/written this, but I’ll quickly pile on: If Margarito can lie about how he was just pretending to be scared of Roach ÔÇö which we know is a lie, since we saw the video with our own eyes ÔÇö then he just lost his last shred of believability about everything else we suspect he’s lying about. At a certain point, the circumstantial evidence piles up and there is no more reasonable doubt about a man’s guilt.
ÔÇó Want to know my picks for all the huge fights coming up the next two weeks, like Sergio Martinez-Paul Williams II, Juan Manuel Marquez-Michael Katsidis and Arthur Abraham-Carl Froch? Then you’ll have to listen to this week’s episode of Ring Theory, which will be available Wednesday night/Thursday morning and will feature a guest appearance by Showtime boxing analyst Al Bernstein.
Eric Raskin can be reached at [email protected] You can read his articles each month in THE RING magazine and follow him on Twitter @EricRaskin.