Monday, March 20, 2023  |



Weekend Review: Another Pacquiao masterpiece


Manny Pacquiao rearranged the face of Antonio Margarito during his dominating victory Saturday at Cowboys Stadium. Photo / Naoki Fukuda


Manny Pacquiao: Watching Manny Pacquiao fight is like witnessing Sinatra sing or Astaire dance or Hendrix play the guitar. He’s the best at what he does. And we have a powerful attraction to the best. The fact his poor opponent on Saturday night, Antonio Margarito, never had a chance to beat him wasn’t really relevant. Just as Joshua Clottey didn’t matter much in Pacquiao’s previous fight. The fans, in utter awe of the Filipino marvel, just want to watch him do his thing. The overriding sentiment among those at Cowboys Stadium had to be this as Pacquiao carved up Margarito: WOW! We’d like to see Pacquiao in a real fight – Floyd? – but we’ll take what we can get. And, once again, we should enjoy him while he’s here. Sinatra and Astaire and Hendrix are all gone, leaving us only with recordings and memories. Soon Pacquiao will call it quits and devote himself entirely to public service. Let’s savor every moment until then.


Antonio Margarito: Margarito emerged from this fight a winner in some ways. The former three-time titleholder was caught with illegal knuckle pads in his wraps before his fight against Shane Mosley in January of last year and lost his license in California. He was out of boxing for 15-plus months, after which he outpointed Roberto Garcia in Mexico in a comeback fight. Then he landed a date with the No. 1 fighter in the world and could make in excess of $5 million when profits are divvied up. Some punishment. Margarito did take a frightful pounding on Saturday, though, one at least as bad as the one he took against Mosley. His misshapened, bloodied face made him unrecognizable. He broke his orbital bone and will have surgery Tuesday. Also, he had hoped to make a grand return to the big stage with a resounding victory that would prove that he could win with legal hand wraps. We saw what happened. Margarito is a rich man but doubts about his integrity and ability will always linger.


Pacquiao-Margarito: Pacquiao deserves to be celebrated after another wonderful performance. That said, this fight really should never have been made. Yes, it was a sound business decision; a lot of people will make a lot of money. And, yes, it provided Pacquiao with an opportunity to win a title in an unprecedented eighth weight class. At the same time, it was never destined to be competitive. That’s what happens when you match a fast great fighter against a slow good one. Promoter Bob Arum could get away with this matchup because people would pay to see Pacquiao hit a heavy bag, which is pretty much what Margarito turned out to be. Is this really what we want, though? To watch one fighter break the face of his helpless opponent? The word that comes to mind is “barbaric.” Arum said he has no choice now but to match Pacquiao with someone outside his stable because Pacquiao has cleaned him out. Let’s hope that’s true. We’d love to see Pacquiao in a real fight.


Pacquiao-Margarito punch stats: First, I should say that the CompuBox statistics are not official in any way; they simply provide an idea of how many punches were thrown and landed. The number that stands out most to me are the power punches Pacquiao landed, 411 (out of 713 thrown), a 58 percent connect rate. That’s an average of 34 per round, or about 11 per minute – or one every 5-plus seconds over 12 full rounds. Pacquiao landed 474 punches overall (out of 1,069), the eighth most in a title fight the history of CompuBox. And consider Pacquiao’s domination in the final three rounds: He outlanded Margarito in power shots 135-18. And, remember, that includes a 12th round in which Pacquaio held back because he didn’t want to hurt his battered foe any further. That’s domination.


What’s next? Arum has dropped a number of names as possible next opponents for Pacquiao, some we hope don’t get beyond consideration. The obvious first choice is Floyd Mayweather Jr., who really is the only fighter close to Pacquiao’s natural weight who also is on his level. Don’t hold your breath, though. After that? Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, Andre Berto, the winner of the Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander fight have been mentioned. Mosley? Cotto? Please no. Their time has passed. Arum said Cotto could end up fighting Margarito again, which makes sense. I like the idea of Pacquiao facing Berto or the Bradley-Alexander winner. Each is a young, rising fighter with considerable talent, although each would lose. Marquez is the most-deserving and could be the most competitive at the right weight. He and Pacquiao engaged in two compelling fights, both of which ended in controversial decisions. In fact, Marquez is the last fighter to give Pacquiao a challenge. Weight could be a problem, though. The fight probably would take place at 140 pounds, at weight at which Marquez wouldn’t be at his best. Still, that’s the fight that makes the most sense beyond Mayweather.


Mike Jones: The unbeaten prospect from Philadelphia made a terrible mistake in the second round of his fight with tough Jesus Soto-Karrass, unloading a crazy barrage of more than 50 punches in a failed attempt to score a knockout. Afterward, with much of Jones’ energy sapped, Soto-Karrass got the better of the action in the eyes of most observers. Jones survived the 10-round fight and eked out a victory to maintain his perfect record and remain in line for a title shot in the near future. This could’ve been a great showcase for him, though, a coming out. It was anything but. Jones barely got past an opponent most believed he would beat convincingly. How would he have done if he hadn’t expended so much energy in the second round? No one knows. We saw what we saw, a fighter who looked anything but special.


Guillermo Rigondeaux: The Cuban defector is an extremely gifted boxer, blessed with uncommon quickness and loaded with skills he learned in the world’s best amateur boxing system. We saw that once again against a similar boxer in Ricardo Cordoba on the Pacquiao-Margarito undercard, a fight Rigondeaux narrowly won. The problem is that he put people to sleep. Boxing purists, whoever they are, might appreciate that type of performance. The rest of us, those who can appreciate profound ability but crave a little action, suffered for 12 rounds. Rigondeaux probably will win a world title or two but he’s not going to build any kind of fan base if he doesn’t play to the crowd. To be fair, the matchmakers also should take some of the blame here: A matchup between two slick southpaws is a recipe for tedium.


Haye vs. Harrison: David Haye vs. Audley Harrison was another fight that shouldn’t of happened because it too was destined to be a mismatch. And it turned out worse than that. Reports out of the UK are that the former Olympic gold medalist, who has been an utter flop as a pro, landed exactly one punch before he was stopped in the third round by his fellow Briton. Authorities reportedly are investigating. The fight also reflects poorly on Haye. The former cruiserweight champion already was accused of avoiding the class of the heavyweight division, the Klitschko brothers. Then he decides to fight a never-has-been who didn’t even deserve the opportunity. Now, once again, Haye is calling out the big Ukrainians but his words ring hollow. It’s time Haye stop talking and share the ring with one of the two best heavyweights in the world if he cares at all how he’s perceived.

Promoter Bob Arum, when asked whether he would consider having Pacquiao fight someone handled by another promoter: Absoluetly. I ran out of my own guys. Manny beat all my guys.”