Years ago, being undefeated was a sign of prestige in the boxing world because it was so hard to achieve. Rocky Marciano more or less set the standard when he retired as heavyweight champion with a 49-0 record. Joe Calzaghe of Wales managed to pull it off by retiring at 46-0 and Floyd Mayweather, 41-0, may also do it if he doesn’t fight again.
But it’s very hard to make it through a boxing career these days without suffering at least one defeat. When the "invincible" Muhammad Ali was finally beaten, by Joe Frazier back in 1971, millions of fans around the world were devastated. But in the end, all of the greats lost once or twice, including Alexis Arguello, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler, Wilfredo Benitez, Roberto Duran, Mike Tyson, and the Klitschko brothers.
When it comes to today’s pound-for-pound-champion, Manny Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs) of the Philippines, he’s past that point already. We know he’s beatable after suffering three losses and two of them by knockout. And as much as he’s loved around the world, there’s a real possibility he could lose his upcoming bout with Antonio Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) of Mexico.
There are several intangibles that favor the Mexican. He’s the biggest and heaviest opponent Pacquiao’s ever faced. Margarito is 5-oot-11, compared to Pacquiao’s 5-6 1/2. He also has a 73-inch reach compared to Pacman's 67. In fact, Margarito has the size advantage everywhere except thigh, forearm, and wrist. The contest will also be at a weight of 151 lbs. and Pacquiao hasn’t entered a fight more than 145 lbs. Many fans believe Pacquiao’s speed, boxing skills, power, and movement will negate these advantages, but that’s why fights are held--to find out for sure.
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All true boxing fans know there’s no such thing as a sure bet. Anything can happen in a fight. We’ve seen it time and time again. It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are and what kind of physical shape you’re in, if the brain miscommunicates with the body for even a split second it could be lights out or at least a trip to the canvas. It’s happened to many of history’s best boxers.
So what if Pacquiao loses to Margarito, what does he do next? The first thing I’m sure would be a rematch, and I’m assuming there’s some kind of clause in the contract for one. I don’t think it would matter how he lost, the public would want to see him given a chance to redeem himself. If he goes to-to-toe with Margarito it should become an instant classic and a rematch will be demanded no matter who wins. If he happens to lose a decision, fans will put it to an off night or being over trained. If he gets knocked out, they’ll call it a fluke. Pacquiao seems to be in a no-lose situation here no matter the result.
However, what are some of Pacquiao’s other options if he gets beat? I’m sure we’d see Mayweather come out of the woodwork, but most fans would assume a loss to Margarito would mean annihilation by Mayweather. Another possibility could be a rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez considering they’ve fought 24 exciting rounds already, with Pacquiao taking a split decision and the first fight ruled a draw. However, the fight would have to be held at around 140 lbs. A rematch with Miguel Cotto could be in the cards after Pacquiao stopped him in the 12th round last year in a competitive scrap.
Pacquiao would have quite a few options because he’s flexible when it comes to weight classes. Realistically he could fight between 140 and 154 lbs., which means there are several big matchups possible.
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A fight with WBA Jr. Welterweight champion Amir Khan of England would likely be ruled out since Khan is currently training with Freddie Roach and Pacquiao, and Khan said he doesn’t think he’d fight Pacquiao because he likes and respects him too much. Other fights at 140 that would be interesting would be against Marcos Maidana, Devon Alexander, Tim Bradley or Victor Ortiz. If he fights at welterweight, Shane Mosley’s a possibility, especially considering the punishing job he did on Margarito (sans doctored gloves). At Jr. Middleweight, I’d actually like to see him take on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
But like Ali before him, Pacquiao’s already achieved so much in the sport of boxing that nothing can tarnish his image of being a great champion and man. He’s already done what nobody did before: win titles in seven different weight divisions. I don’t think a loss to Margarito would affect his popularity. It would just set up the next chapter in Pacquiao’s illustrious boxing career.
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