The bad blood between Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito (and their camps) may be a deciding factor in the WBC Super Welterweight championship tonight in Arlington, Texas. One wonders if the fighters will remain calm, cool, and collected once the bell rings or if all hell’s going to break loose right away.
Both men should be entering this bout with a lot of incentive. Margarito wants to prove he’s still an excellent fighter without loaded hand-wraps and Pacquiao wants to prove he’s one of the best ever in boxing history -- by becoming the first to win eight titles in eight different weight divisions. But realistically there’s much more on the line because Pacquiao and Margarito have really been getting under each other’s skin for the last couple of months now.
Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach have been taking shots at the Mexican fighter by referring to his hand-wrap controversy of 2009 when Margarito and his trainer Javier Capitello were caught cheating just before entering the ring against Shane Mosley. Margarito’s hand-wraps were found to contain a plaster-of-Paris type substance that was meant to harden inside his gloves when they got damp.
Pacquiao, Roach, and many others believe Margarito knew exactly what was on his hands before his fights and reminded Margarito of this frequently in the buildup to the fight. This theory was also supported by former number-one middleweight contender Syd Vanderpool, who has fought the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Glen Johnson, and Jeff Lacy throughout his career.
Vanderpool said “Trainers take great care and pride in how they tape a fighter’s hands. It is really an art. This is the means for which a prize fighter earns a living...it is hard for me to believe that a trainer wrapping hands does not know the material going over their fighters hands.”
On the other side of the fence, Pacquiao and his camp weren’t too impressed with a video that was released just a week before the fight that showed Margarito and a couple of members of his entourage, including Brandon Rios, who’s fighting on the undercard, mocking Roach and his Parkinson’s disease. While Margarito’s camp apologized for the incident and said they were just poking fun in general and not specifically about Roach, it’s believed that Pacquiao won’t forget the incident.
But these events could lead to both fighters being emotionally charged when the fight begins and game plans could be thrown out of the window as their ill feelings toward each other take over. If that happens, plan on looking for a slugfest as soon as the bell rings and this fight could be over pretty quickly.
It’s not really clear who that would benefit, probably the guy who lands the first telling blow, but throwing an endless stream of powerful shots with both hands is more Pacquiao’s style than Margarito’s. The bout could turn into chaos, mayhem, and fury right from the get go and I’m sure boxing fans would love that.
We might see the most exciting round in boxing since Tommy Hearns and Marvin Hagler went hell bent for leather during the first three minutes of their classic bout in 1985. As long as the gloves are clean, the blows are legal and head butts are nowhere to be seen, let’s hope that’s what we’re in store for.