(Image from cbc.ca)

All apprehensions of Manny Pacquiao being too small for Antonio Margarito vanished even before the first round ended in their WBC super-welterweight title fight Saturday at the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas that Pacquiao won by unanimous decision with the judges scoring it 120-108, 119-109, and 118-110. Pacquiao also won his eighth world boxing title in as many weight categories.

Pacquaio’s near-mythic speed and volume punching obviously flustered Margarito, who at 5-feet-11 and 165 pounds on fight night, looked enormous against Pacquiao’s 5-6 ½ and 146lbs. The next 11 rounds were not much different as Pacquiao took on all of Margarito’s hardest punches even as he methodically destroyed Margarito’s mug and his chances of redemption. The hand-wraps controversy will forever mar Margarito’s legacy but his hopes of putting a sheen on his tarnished image with a win over the “Mexicutioner” diminished as the fight progressed.

Round 4 could have been the most dominating for Pacquaio as he pummeled Margarito with his arsenal of punches while dancing away from counterattacks. Margarito’s body language looked like that of a defeated man as he walked back to his corner when the bell rang. But that was only a third of the punishment he got.

Round 5 showed a reckless Pacquaio who allowed himself to be trapped in the ropes twice, taking on Margarito’s blows but deftly swaying from either side while punching back and eventually escaping. It is not difficult to lure Pacquiao into a toe-to-toe battle even against bigger and theoretically stronger foes as evinced by the Miguel Cotto fight exactly a year ago, the Saranggani Province congressman from the Philippines later admitting that he wanted to get a taste of Cotto’s supposedly more formidable power. Pacquiao did get hit by Margarito but the Mexican couldn’t consistently hurt the Filipino.

It would be redundant and cruel to go through the fight round for round as they practically resembled each other: Pacquiao either attacking and landing punches or gracefully avoiding being hit or countering after Margarito’s punches landed. It was a night full of frustrations for Margarito, who verbally expressed his confidence before the fight of doing what many of his countrymen have failed to do in the last five years: Put an end to the win streak of the bane of Mexico’s best boxers in the 126lbs-150lbs divisions.

Margarito was so confident of beating Pacquiao that he even bet his Mercedes Benz against his uncle’s Jeep. Not only did Margarito lose his car, he lost a lot of blood as Pacquiao cut him below his right eye which also puffed up with a purple hue.

Many are still asking why the fight was allowed to consume all of 12 rounds when it should have been stopped without much protestations except from Margarito, of course, four or five rounds earlier. Margarito, as brave as he was, clearly didn’t have much chance of winning at that point and had obviously taken too much of a beating already that by the 11th round Pacquiao looked imploringly at the referee to stop the carnage. Strangely, neither referee Laurence Cole nor Margarito’s corner with Roberto Garcia at the helm showed much concern and allowed him to finish the fight to the bitter end.

Cole, for his part, merely stopped the fight twice to ask Margarito to count how many fingers he raised to determine the state of his eyesight. The warrior that he is, Margarito could have merely made a guess and got it right to be allowed to continue fighting. Never was the ringside physician called to look at Margarito’s injuries and make his recommendations (as limited as our view of the fight was by the hours-delayed telecast and intrusive commercials).

At the start of the 12th and final round, Pacquiao, the softhearted humanitarian that he is, said something to Margarito, probably asking him if he could still go on. By that time Margarito was so banged up that Pacquiao clearly pulled his punches, merely letting the minutes tick away until the bell rang.

The question in every fight fan’s mind now is: Will Floyd Mayweather Jr. ever agree to fight Pacquiao, especially after seeing (he did watch the fight, didn’t he?) the present holder of the world’s best pound-four-pound boxer title that Mayweather once owned make mincemeat of the slugger that he (Floyd Jr.) so skillfully avoided fighting in the ring? The answer to that right now is a resounding no.

If Mayweather, who loves to tell anyone who still cares to listen that he is the world’s best boxer (throwing his unblemished 41-0 win-loss record at anybody who dares doubt his excellence) wasn’t afraid of Pacquiao, he would have already agreed to sign the contract which stipulated that he gets $40 million besides a share of the pay-per-view money to be generated by the would-have-been richest purse in professional boxing history. There is no arguing the fact: Floyd Mayweather Jr. is afraid of Manny Pacquiao. Another fact-to-be should Pacquiao-Mayweather I push through: Pacquiao will beat Mayweather.


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