Pacquiao pummeled Margarito (pic Tri Nguyen)
By Jason Pribila: While it is still hard to believe that 2010 will come and go without seeing the one fight that would have captured the attention of the mainstream sports fan, we cannot hold that against a fighter who chooses to put the good of the sport ahead of self preservation. Whenever Manny Pacquiao laces up his gloves it is an event. No one who has ever purchased a Pacquiao fight has woken up with buyer’s remorse. He continues to defy the odds by moving up in weight, and each performance seems to be more impressive than the last.
When Pacquiao finally calls it a career, we will reflect and debate where he belongs on the All-Time list. Until then we must enjoy him while he is still active. But before all of that, I ask you to take a look back as I recap the winners and losers of Pacquiao – Margarito.
Honorable Mention: Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik: The nightmare 2010 for the Youngstown native got worse when he turned up lame and backed out of his appearance on this undercard. A less than 100% Pavlik should still be able to take out Brian Vera, and a crowd that was at times restless, would have welcomed the Pavlik right hand that put more accomplished fighters to sleep. Again rumors of battles lost with the bottle plague the former middleweight champion, which led me to ask the fight freaks on the ESPN.com chat if they too got the impression that Pavlik would be first in line to cash in on the $25 rebate that was being offered by Cerveza Tecate?
5. Crowd at Cowboys Stadium: ESPN.com reported that during the undercard the crowd at Cowboys Stadium was doing the “wave”. I’m not sure exactly how this pointless activity has remained a part experiencing a live sporting event, but it needs to stop. Seriously. The disadvantage of being in a stadium rather than watching from home is that one may not always have the advantage of a replay. It would be a shame to miss a one-punch knockout, because the tall fellow seated in your sight line decided it was a good time to rise from his seat with his arms over his head.
4. Gale E. Van Hoy: The only concern expressed about staging a big event in Texas was the history of questionable scores being turned in by their judges. This was front and center when Paulie Malignaggi predicted he would not get a fair shake when he faced Juan Diaz in their first meeting. A close fight that could have gone either way turned into a major controversy when Gale E. Van Hoy turned in a 118-110 score for Diaz, a Houston native. Basically, his card was filled out prior to watching the fight.
On Saturday Night, Van Hoy was back at ringside for the Mike Jones – Jesus Soto Karass fight. He scored the fight even, which was perfectly acceptable. However, under a 10-point must system, I can’t figure out how he turned in a score of 94-94. Jones assaulted Soto Karass in round two, but the Mexican survived and threw enough punches back to avoid a 10-8 round. However, there was not a moment in the fight where Jones came close to losing a point. In the end, the card did not impact the outcome; but Van Hoy no longer deserves the opportunity to do so.
3. Robert Garcia: When HBO’s 24/7 started, I found Garcia to be a really likable guy worth rooting for. However, the events that unfolded as the fight drew near made Garcia seem way out of his element. Making light of the hand wrap scandal is not going to make your fighter any more endearing to a public that already detested him. But, taking part of a video that poked fun of a disease has no place in any sport, including boxing. The video that was filmed in Garcia’s gym made long for a Floyd Sr. poem where he rhymes: joke, coach, and Roach. In comparison, Floyd Sr. almost seems artistic.
On fight night, Garcia did not earn any respect by sending his beaten fighter out round after round to receive more punishment. The excuse, “He would not let me stop the fight,” is not an excuse. Your most important job is to protect a fighter from himself. Make the tough decision for him in the name of safety.
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Yes you deserve credit for beating Shane Mosley. I also understand if you only want to fight once a year. However, there are no longer any excuses not to make this fight happen. Whether you retire with a “0” or a “1” in the loss column, you are going to be ranked #2 behind Pacquiao on any list that you are both mentioned on. The only way to change that is by meeting and beating him in the ring.
Floyd, you don’t have to do it for me, or for the fans, or even for the sport of boxing; so why not do it for the “Money”?
1. Antonio Margarito: Everything Margarito accomplished in the ring deserves an asterisk following the attempted hand wrap scandal. He had the chance to make a great argument for redemption when he took on the #1 pound for pound fighter in the world. Margarito didn’t come close, and he only proved that he has been unable to finish or even do damage to any of the three opponents he faced since his wraps were unloaded.
Sure he showed a ton of heart on Saturday, but the truth is that he was being carried by a guy that was fighting two weight classes below him. Margarito’s attempt to play the victim through all of this also fell on deaf ears when he joked about wrapping a cinder block to his hand and then poking fun at Roach in a video. Margarito also needs to be careful because trying to use his own skull to break his opponents hands, as he did against Mosley and Pacquiao, is the best way to feel the effects of an unforgiving support long after he hangs up his loaded gloves.
5. Jesus Soto Karass: Usually when a fighter is asked to take part on a major pay per view following a loss and a no-contest, he is usually not going to be the betting favorite. Soto Karass accepted his role as “opponent” for the undefeated, Mike Jones and made the most of it. He not only remained on his feet while Jones hit him with everything but a goal post, but he was the aggressor in the very next round. He remained game when cuts opened over both eyes, and continued to come forward for the majority of the fight. Even though he came up short on the cards, this is the kind of loss that warrants his phone to ring again for a meaningful fight.
4. “You’re the Best” by Joe Esposito: A few months ago I asked “friends” on Facebook to list the song they would want to be played if they were being introduced for a prize fight. “Thunderstruck” and “Welcome to the Terrordome” received their proper respect. However, Manny Pacquiao pulled out a song that we all may have slept on for too long, “You’re the Best” by Joe Esposito.
The song was made famous when played during a montage of matches that saw an under-sized Daniel Larusso roll through the All-City Tournament in the “Karate Kid” against the villainous Cobra Kai. It was re-introduced to a world-wide audience as an under-sized junior middleweight made history against the villainous Team Margarito.
3. Mike Jones: Many questioned if Jones was worth the hype that was coming out of the city of Philadelphia. Some may have walked away disappointed or unimpressed. However, if Jones would have scored the highlight reel knockout he went for in the second round, it may have had an adverse effect on his future. By punching himself out, Jones will now know how to better pace himself. He was forced to dig deep and he passed his first major gut-check. The experience will hopefully prove to be a valuable learning experience as Jones tries to evolve from prospect to contender to champion.
2. Crowd at Cowboys Stadium: Even though the reported attendance of 41,734 came up short of the lofty projections of 60,000 it did not matter. The folks that attended were as loud and raucous of a crowd that made the event that much more enjoyable to watch at home. The majority of the people that bought a ticket were there because they love boxing, and not because a casino floated them comp. tickets.
The fans that have now twice come out to support a fighter from the Philippines have raised the bar for cities to try to meet, as hopefully more promoters take their products to the fans. There is no question that the economy causes families to carefully budget their entertainment dollars, but putting fights in venues where fans could afford to attend will only cultivate the sport’s future.
1. Congressman Manny Pacquiao: The politician, karaoke singer, and the best fighter in the world, put on another performance that could only be compared to his previous outings. He remains the most consistent performer in a sport that has spent several years consistently letting its fans down.
Pacquiao entered the ring two weight classes below Margarito, and even allowed the bigger man to wear 8 oz. gloves. At times he fought on the inside, and with his back to the ropes, and when he got hit; he answered immediately.
He is already an all-time great boxer, but he has become much more than a guy who punches for pay. In an era where athletes like Tiger Woods and Lebron James have become brand name corporations, Pacquiao has used his popularity to try to help the people of the Philippines. We are all fortunate to be able to say that we witnessed the “Pac Man” in his prime.
Jason Pribila can be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org
November 15, 2010