Manny Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs) vs. Antonio Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) isn't really the fight boxing fans want to see most, but it's the fight they have to take tonight at a packed Cowboys Stadium. Floyd Mayweather's chance to fight Pacquiao and settle the pound-for-pound best boxer debate will have to wait for another time.
As one of the fighters Mayweather has been accused of ducking in the past, a Pacman win over Margarito tonight will certainly stir up more superfight talk, but Margarito is coming in convinced he'll be the spoiler. Can he make boxing history, or will Pacquiao treat him as just another Mayweather tune-up?
Pacquiao must maintain constant body and head movement mixed with the perfect blend of speed and power to win this fight, while Margarito will have to make his superior reach (5-inch advantage) and size (17 pound advantage) the deciding factors to come out on top tonight.
Pacquiao starts cautious, firing jabs, landing straight punches to the body. Margarito is throwing sparingly. Margarito is sticking his jab and refusing to throw much else. Pacquiao is peppering him from every angle. His 1-2 combo is landing beautifully. He's changing levels and landing to the body and head almost at will. It almost seems as if Margarito is employing a "rope-a-dope" strategy. Pacquiao wins this round 10-9.
Margarito comes out stiff again with Pacquiao dancing circles around him and landing the more accurate punches. Finally Margarito lands one of his crushing body blows, but then Pacquiao storms him with combos. Up against the ropes, Pacquiao finds himself in trouble for a moment, but he fights back to the center and gets back to being more defensively sound with his hands held high in front of his face. Both fighters trade toe to toe shots in the middle of the ring. Margarito's starting to find his range. Pacquiao ends the round with a nice flurry. Another 10-9 round for Pacquiao. Margarito simply has to pick up the pace.
Pacquiao starts moving more side to side, landing 1-2s as he paces around Margarito. Margarito is plodding around and covering up. Margarito gets his best punches in only to get swarmed by Pacquiao once again. Pacquiao lands some hooks, more 1-2s, and fights his way off the ropes to end the frame. One more 10-9 round for Pacquiao.
This is turning into one of the most exciting rounds of the night. Margarito is landing a few bombs, but Pacquiao's speed and consistency is starting to take its toll on Margarito's face. Pacquiao lands a huge body punch that buckles Margarito. Margarito seems to have nothing left as Pacquiao moves around him, light on his feet and landing some excellent shots. 10-9 again for Pac-Man.
Margarito's cut man works on his welt under the right eye between rounds, but the eye is almost shut already. Pacquiao starts a bit slower this round, but he's still moving well and staying in his range. Margarito has no answer when Pacquiao starts slugging away with both hands. It's one or two shots at a time for Margarito, and then he fades or has to stalk after Pacquiao. Margarito's punches are being countered at will. Pacquiao is egging him on, wanting him to come forward into another combo. Margarito is wobbly toward round's end. Pacquiao looks fresh and fluid. He's winning every round and hardly getting hit unless he stops throwing his own shots, which he only does in spurts. 10-9 Pacquiao.
Manny keeps circling, using every inch of the ring, jumping in to throw and land, and then jumping back out to make Margarito chase him and miss. Pacquiao is putting on a boxing clinic, punishing Margarito every time he gets close. Margarito can't find or hope to hit the elusive Fillipino. Margarito finally catches him against the ropes, but it only seems to supercharge Pacquiao and get him to fight back harder. Chalk another round up for Pacquiao 10-9.
Pacquiao is starting to look like he's in a sparring session. He's still bouncing around, full of energy, landing just about whenever he wants to. Pacquiao picks it up in mid-round and really focuses on the damaged eye of Margarito. Margarito is getting circled and hit so much he must be dizzy at this point just trying to track his faster opponent. The only nice moment Margarito has is spoiled by Pacquiao who fights off the ropes once again to stun Margarito. (10-9 Pacquiao)
Pacquiao is simply cruising now, confident he's won the fight on points already. He's throwing less and dancing more. Margarito pushes him against the rope but can't land anything solid. Pacquiao reverses roles. He starts to use the whole ring again, but he keeps getting caught against the ropes. The total punch output is becoming the story of the day, though. Margarito has nothing in his bag of tricks to hurt or frustrate Pacquiao. The closing seconds show Pacquiao is by no means afraid to stand toe to toe with the heavier and taller Margarito. Margarito can't see or land shots on Pacquiao that have any major effect or ability to slow him down. 10-9 again for Pacquiao.
Manny is backing up and circling to begin the round. Margarito still can't catch him or hit him with anything earth shaking. Pacquiao is fighting smart, as if he was yelled at between rounds for going toe to toe with Margarito so late in the fight. With a little over a minute left, Pacquiao turns on the heat momentarily and then starts dancing and throwing shots one at a time. Margarito's high guard is now lowered. His hands come down to his chin toward the end of the round, and he's trying to throw more but can't find his range again. 10-9 for Manny, and Margarito's corner is calling for him to go for the knockout between rounds.
The ref gives Margarito an eye test that he passes. The fight goes on. Pacquiao uses every inch of the ring, working a wide circular pattern around Margarito, peppering him with combos. Margarito looks to be on his way to being knocked out at the halfway point, and Margarito can't do much more than stalk Manny and hope one of his loaded shots lands the miracle knockout blow. Manny turns on the power and speed toward the end of the round, beating Margarito's face to a bloody pulp. Antonio objects heartily to his corner's concerns that he can no longer keep fighting. He passes another between round eye test. 10-9 Manny.
There's just six minutes to go for Pacquiao to secure another victory unless he pounds out Margarito before then. He starts the round in cautious mode and then starts to open up around the 2:00 mark. Margarito is getting swarmed so badly he doesn't even seem to be able to throw a punch, never mind land one. The ref stops the action and checks his eyesight one more time. Pacquiao is just smearing Margarito at this point. There's no hope for Margarito to turn the fight around at this point. He needs a knockout in the final round, and he might not even get through it. 10-9 for Pacquiao, and the shutout continues.
It's hard not to feel sorry for Margarito, and even Pacquiao seems to not want to pour on the punishment in the final frame. He almost seems to be taking something off his punches. He doesn't need the killer instinct to win, and he's not about to prevent Margarito from being able to at least say he went the full distance with Manny. He's still doing enough to win the round, but he's not intent on knocking Margarito out. A final Unanimous Decision of 120-108 or something close to it is all but a formality as the final bell rings and the two fighters don't even slap hands. The pre-fight animosity was just that potent, and even after battling each other for 36 minutes they don't want to be friends.
One judge scores the shutout, one judge gives a round to Margarito, and the third judge gives Margarito two rounds. Margarito's got defeat all over his face, literally. Pacquiao still looks fresh, composed, and virtually unblemished. The punch-stat numbers reveal Pacquiao threw more than 700 power punches and landed nearly 60 percent of them.
Pacquiao moves one more rung up the pound for pound best ladder with this win, Asked by Max Kellerman about fighting Floyd, Pacquiao responds by proclaiming he fears nobody, but it's up to Bob Arum.
Thanks to our friends at Bet And Win for this article.