Manny "Pac Man" Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs) is fighting "The Tijuana Tornado" Antonio Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium, and the tensions couldn't be higher leading up to their catch-weight (150 pounds) showdown.
It seems the drama surrounding Margarito even being allowed to fight in the U.S. so soon after his hand wrap scandal was not enough to get the cauldron of pre-fight controversy boiling over the top. Instead, the Margarito camp took things a step further, mocking the hand-wrap incident on at least two occasions, which were televised (one on the 24/7 series and the other Online).
On Episode 3 of 24/7 Margarito's trainer jokingly wraps gauze around what looks to be a huge cement block atop Margarito's wrist. Margarito, smiling, shields his eyes and says aloud he won't look. Everyone is laughing.
The camera's right there covering every second of the action in that 24/7 clip. It seems not only insensitive of the Margarito camp, but contrived to generate angst and animosity as well. They know this sells fights and solidifies Margarito as the villain. Joke or no joke, these despicable tactics go too far just to sell more tickets.
The whole attitude and mentality behind such behavior is also unfortunately indicative that Margarito does not take the incident seriously. Certain things just shouldn't be joked about, especially not on camera when you pretend to be trying to redeem yourself. True athletes have tact. Margarito seems to be missing that human element.
Pacquiao was given one more reason to want to pound out Margarito just this past week when word leaked out of a second video featuring the Margarito camp making light of the hand wrap issue and belittling Freddie Roach's Parkinson's Disease-related speech impediment on camera. Robert Garcia, Margarito's Trainer, apologized publicly for that incident, and many links to the video itself have been removed from cyberspace. Pacquiao has since publicly promised to make Margarito pay for that little stunt.
Another character in the events of the "plaster" wrapping scandal brought to light on the night Margarito fought Shane Mosley (Jan. 24, 2009) recently broke the silence and explained away the matter as a simple "mistake."
Freddie Roach fired back in other interviews and the 24/7 episodes as well, pointing out clues as to certain scenarios that hint that Margarito may have been wearing illegal wraps long before he and Capetillo were caught. Pacquiao also explained to the 24/7 cameras that it's pretty hard to accept Margarito had no knowledge of the tampering with his wraps for the Mosley fight.
Having this fight so close to Mexico might mean a lot of pro-Margarito fans flooding Cowboys Stadium and minimizing the public backlash as far as the crowd goes, but once the action starts Margarito will be in deep, deep trouble. Already facing one of the pound--for-pound best-ever fighters in the world and trying to shake off some major prime-time ring rust in the process, it doesn't help Margarito to have Pac-Man enraged on a purely personal level -- and ready to make an example out of such an easy to hate opponent.
The only controversy facing the Pacquiao camp is the talk of imminent retirement as the newly-crowned congressman is poised to pick up a career in politics and run for President of his native Philippines. "I miss my job," he told Freddie Roach one day during training camp for the Margarito fight, a fact Roach explained on camera in another 24/7 episode.
"This is your job," Roach had to remind his star pupil.
Yet, as soon as Pacquiao was back on American soil and going strong in Roach's Wild Card Gym, the distraction factor became a non-issue. His trademark speed was back, his focus seemed locked on. This fight keeps looking better and better, but Pacquiao is hard to doubt with his perfect blend of speed and power.
Margarito seems intent on working the body, using his long, lanky frame to score looping hooks and uppercuts from all angles. He's proclaiming it as pure truth that he'll knock Pacquiao out by taking out the body to get to the head. The only problem is Pacquiao is not going to stand still in front of him, and for every one punch Margarito can throw Pac-Man will be launching three or four back in his face.
As far as a knockout, the odds are in Pacquiao's favor. The last person to knock Pacquiao out was an undefeated (18-0) Medgoen Singsurat (now 70-6, 48 KOs) back in 1999. Margarito's last knockout loss came against 45-5 Shane Mosley in January of 2009.
The only advantage Margarito seems to have is in the way of weight, but Pacquiao's shown the ability to negate that factor in prior fights. He will use his lighter frame to be quicker to move around the ring and bounce out of range. It's hard to imagine Margarito making it past the seventh round, but if he does he will only pay for it with more punches to the face on his way to losing badly.
Thanks to our friends at Bet All Sportsbook for this article.