Pacquiao-Margarito tour hits Dallas
Story by Jeff Zimmerman
Photography by John Escobar
Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (51-3-2 38 KOs) and Antonio “Tijuana Tornado” Margarito (38-6 27 K’s) met for the final stop of their three city tour promoting their upcoming showdown on Saturday, November 13th at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the vacant WBC light middleweight title.
This time around, however, Pacquiao wasn’t the only star in Texas as he shared the spotlight with Margarito, a star in his own right, although of late he has been anything but that. The use of illegal hand wraps in his last major fight against Sugar Shane Mosley has tarnished his reputation, which, at one time, made him one of the most feared fighters in the sport.
While Pacquiao has clearly become the sport’s most beloved fighter, Margarito still has a strong following especially in a state like Texas with a large Hispanic demographic. This was evident from the loud roar of fans that came to support him at the press conference.
Margarito was extremely appreciative for the opportunity to fight Pacquiao. Margarito knows that this fight means everything to Mexico and he takes great pride in changing the recent history of Mexican fighters against Pacquiao, whom has defeated such Mexican legends as Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez.
“It’s time to put Mexico back up again against Manny Pacquiao," Margarito said. "Like Freddie says, it’s a not little rain coming, it’s a big tornado.
“This is going to be a hard fight for me, but I am going to train hard and apply some techniques that I am going to use in the fight. “I never say a prediction. I never predict my fights. Right now, I’m just doing my best. I am going to do my best to give a good fight. Yes, because my fighting style is very aggressive and I throw a lot of punches and he wants to fight toe to toe so that’s what I want. And it’s going to be an exciting fight and we can create a lot of boxing in the ring.
"This one is for Mexico - I’m bringing back the title!”
Roach countered with, “The tornado will be downsized to a tropical storm by Manny Pacquiao.”
Margarito wanted everyone to recognize that Pacquiao’s success has added to the greatness of Freddie Roach and he plans to do the same for his trainer, Roberto Garcia.
“Manny Pacquiao is a great fighter, that is why everyone loves Freddie Roach," said Margarito. "After I beat Manny Pacquiao everyone is going to know Roberto Garcia."
Garcia made a pretty bold claim of his own. After stating his respect for Pacquiao and that he would gladly have a couple of beers with him after the fight, now was not the time.
“I am going to train him [Margarito] to put a beating on Manny Pacquiao," said Garcia.
Pacquiao, who has risen to the top of the boxing world and beyond under Roach, understands this will be a tough fight and only hopes that the fans are satisfied.
“Margarito is going to train hard and I am going to train hard also," said Pacquiao. "I will do my best to give a good fight, to do a lot of boxing in the ring. I’m just doing my job, I’m just doing my job in the ring and to make the fans happy."
Pacquiao doesn’t believe he has anything left to prove as a fighter and is completely satisfied with his career:
“I am already satisfied with what I have done in boxing. You know if I win this fight, it’s another accomplishment that I can have in my boxing career and it’s a big one for my country.”
Even if losing jeopardizes a fight with Mayweather?
“I am not worried at all," he says "I’m not looking for that fight badly. Like what I said, I am satisfied with what I have done in boxing already. I have a couple fights to go then I’m going to retire.”
When asked about the derogatory Mayweather video, Pacquiao had only this to say: “I just heard about that, the video, but that’s an uneducated message.”
On whether he would know if something was wrong with the hand wraps before a fight or if there was a foreign object in the wrap, Pacquiao stated the following.
“Of course I would know about the hand wraps for my hands before the fight. I am the one fighting so I have to know what the hand wraps are put on my hands.”
Pacquiao and Roach are not too concerned about the great reach advantage of Margarito.
“It doesn’t matter to me, but you know, that’s his advantage we are going to study and learn how to move that,” said Pacquiao.
Roach added, “The reach is no problem, it’s all about distance. The guy has a reach advantage, I ask him to get close and take that away, it’s really not an advantage.”
On what strategy Pacquiao will deploy to counter his strength and size.
Pacquiao declared, “We’re a going to study his advantage. We’re going to study my advantage and how to maximize and use it in the fight.”
Roach talked about the De La Hoya fight providing a blueprint for Margarito.
“It gave us a little bit of blueprint," said Roach. "But you know what, after Manny knocked out Oscar, I said, 'Who do who do you want to fight next? He said, 'Margarito.' I said he is a little bit too big and Manny says, 'No, I know I can beat him.' Manny has always wanted this fight. We wanted this fight before the Mosley fight, but Mosley gave us pretty good idea. You know he [Margarito] is pretty predictable most of his fights, he doesn’t change too much.
“Well he can’t fight going backwards either, so we might decide to choose that route but we are going to choose what works best in sparring and we have some big sparring partners coming in so we’ll throw it out and see how it goes, but we’ll have more than one game plan. He has never seen anything like it [referring to Pacquiao’s fighting style].”
As popular as Pacquiao is, it’s conceivable that Margarito may actually have the home crowd advantage due to the large Hispanic contingent in Texas.
“I don’t care; I don’t care as long as the fans are happy I’m happy,” Pacquiao stated.
Although Margarito poses a legitimate threat to Pacquiao, the elephant in the room is still Floyd Mayweather for better or for worse. His derogatory rant aside, a Pacquiao Mayweather fight is still the most coveted fight out there. After two failed attempts to make it happen and with Pacquiao claiming he will retire after a couple more fights, Roach is also content if the fight never happens.
“We want to get the Mayweather fight in, and I am sure that would be it, but if not, as long as there is a challenge he would probably come out for it, he’s a very competitive person [referring to Pacquiao]. One or two fights, but this could be his last fight. If he does well in this fight, I would be happy with him retiring.”
Roach claimed why the Mayweather fight has yet to materialize, it has nothing to do with money, blood testing or steroids.
“He won’t fight Manny because he wants to have that “0”, he’s too afraid to lose the fight, if he loses the fight he can’t argue that he is the best fighter of all time. Like he says he is as good Sugar Ray Robinson and all these legends and stuff like that, but if he had a loss on his record he couldn’t say that. So that “0” is more important than him fighting. In his own little mind he is undefeated and no one has ever beaten him. But you know, did he fight everybody, no, but in the history books it won’t show that.”
When asked if Roach had another 'Pacquiao' on the horizon, he answered: “No, there is only one Pacquiao in my lifetime.