In the conference call this week to hype the Nov. 13 showdown in Dallas, it sounded to me like perhaps Antonio Margaritos confidence isnt soaring, that maybe he knows in his gut that Manny Pacquiao is on a higher tier than him at this point of his career. But then I tuned in to the third installment of HBOs 24/7, Pacquiao-Margarito edition, and I (briefly) considered the possibility that Pacmans speed of hand and foot wont be an overwhelming edge, that maybe the Mexican could pull an immense upset.
Well done, HBO.
We see Pacquiao working against Ray Beltran, David Rodela, Rashad Holloway and Willie Price, for a total of 12 rounds, and Freddie Roach liked what he saw. Holloway had sparred with Margarito, before his fight with Shane Mosley. In one sparring session, a punch to the right eye, which broke his orbital bone. He feared his career would be over. After the hand wrap scandal, Holloway wondered if perhaps Margarito was using an illegal aid in sparring. Ill hurt Pacquiao as if Im wearing plaster but there wont be anything in the wraps, Margarito said, with a slight grin.
A parade of lefties is brought in to spar with Margarito. One, Cleotis Pendarvis, is a decent mimic of Manny. But Margarito, it seems, wont look to conventional wisdom in fighting a lefty. Hell swarm Manny, make him back up, he says.
He doesnt buy that Manny is distracted, and says thats all excuses.
We see Pacman on the Jimmy Kimmel show, and then, two nights later, Mannys wife Jinkee arrives.
In Oxnard, we see that local youth flock to Robert Garcias gym. He likes it, likes to help them stay away from the streets. Brandon Rios, who will fight on the Nov. 13th undercard, was a youth headed the wrong way, in Kansas, and he flew straight when he met Garcia in 2004.
Pacman then says he is properly conditioned, that he is ready to beef. Hes in shape but hes not in Manny Pacquiao shape, says fitness trainer Alex Ariza. He pegs Manny at about 80%.
Manny says he will stay at 147-148, rather than the 153 he was at for Joshua Clottey, to keep up his speed. The team thinks Margarito might outweigh Manny by as much as 20 pounds on fight night, but feel speed will be the differentiator. I thought this would be a tough fight. I dont think so any more, says Freddie Roach.
I have no doubt Margarito is going to get a late round stoppage, Garcia says.
Margarito, looking like he has not an ounce of fat to burn, weighs 154 pounds a few days he is to leave for Texas. Oh yes, the catchweight is in the contract for a reason, people. That last couple of pounds will be a b-tch.
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