Three days til fight night. Three days until boxings undisputed face, the keeper of the fistic flame, Saint Manny Pacquiao, will glove up, and gun for a title in an unprecedented eighth different weight class. For that reason, the air of excitement is crackling that much more.
We can debate whether that 8th crown would be asterisk free, with Team Pacquiao having secured a concession from foe Antonio Margarito, when he agreed to weigh 150 pounds, or less, at Fridays weigh in. But no one, save for a tiny pocket of Floyd Mayweather team-members, and Floyd himself, could argue that anyone other than Manny is the man who represents boxing today.
If this wasnt confirmed before last Sunday, the Bob Simon piece on 60 Minutes, which was intended to introduce the Filipino fighter/politician to people who dont follow the fight game, or perhaps have not since Ali, or Mike Tyson reigned, did so.
All of us hoped that this clash Saturday would pit Pacquiao against Mayweather, and we all hope that, for the good of the sports profile, that will still happen next year. But that doesnt mean there wont be that touch of butterflies in the belly of fight fans come Saturday morning.
I see the Pacquiao-Margarito fight as a less lopsided version of the Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey fight in March, because Pacmans hand speed, and footwork, will outstrip any weight advantage the Mexican might have come fight night, after he re-hydrates to middleweight. But only a Pacmaniac drunk on the aura of Manny would argue that Margarito couldnt plausibly land that wrecking ball which sends the Filipino to the loss column for the first time since 2005 (a March UD12 loss to Erik Morales).
Boxing is taking its proper place on the worlds stage, Pacquiaos promoter, Bob Arum, said on Wednesday afternoon, at the final press conference before the Saturday tussle at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas. I cannot deny my lack of objectivity, and my gratitude that Pacquiao has elevated himself to be the face of the sport, which too often is saddled with a seedy, or sociopathic, or inauthentic leader. His perseverance, and constant amiability, and entrance into public service, make him a solid role model, in a world sadly in need of them.
The Congressman from the province of Sarangani, the fighter with the title of the best in the world, with the realization that he might be the greatest fighter of all time, said Arum, in his introduction of Pacquiao.
He thanked, with the skill of a vet pol, all the principals who helped put the bout together. He said he expects a good fight, because of Margaritos aggressive style. Theres no problem about my training camp, he said, for the 7,096th time. Early on in camp, he wasnt moving well, he said, because he was a few pounds too heavy, so he dropped down to 147, and maintained that weight channel. He then plugged his book, which comes out on November 19. I hope you will buy it, theres my story, thank you, he said.
Arum said the California commission didnt give him a fair shake. As far as the record is concerned, this man has done nothing wrong. Please welcome my friend, Antonio Margrito.
The fighter told the media and those watching the live stream that there are no excuses. Im ready for this fight, and I want to tell Jose Sulaiman hes got a new Mexican champion on the thirtheenth. This is our best camp, I want to thank God and I want to show everyone Im back, and what I can do, on Saturday night.
A man treated with the reverence which once went to his mentor, Eddie Futch, as Arum put it, also spoke. Freddie Roach said Pacman came to camp in a bit worse shape than usual, because he was concentrating on politics. We know its a tough fight, were ready, dont miss it, he said.
Margaritos trainer, Robert Garcia, said a YouTube video showing two of his fighters making fun of Freddie Roach does not indicate any insensitivity regarding Roachs struggle with Parkinsons. One of the fighters, Brandon Rios, Garcia said, did not know that Roach suffers from the disorder.*
Alex Ariza spoke briefly, and said he assures all that Manny is in 100% condition.
SPEEDBAG Off topic. Some of you may have missed the estimable Thomas Hausers three part look at the state of boxing through the HBO lens. HBO, of course, is perhaps the single most important entity in the sport. They buy or present most of the events we watch, so when their program is healthy, boxing is in better shape. And when their programming lags, so does the sport as a whole. Annually, Hauser sizes up the won-loss record of the HBO crew, analyzing whether their decisionmaking has been sound, or sad. One of my staff emailed me after part one of the Hauser analysis appeared, asking, How does he get this stuff? He gets this stuff because he is an extremely talented reporter, who curries sources almost as well as Seymour Hirsch. And while the suits at HBO might well look to the holiday season with a smidgen of dread, knowing that Hauser the bloodhounds been sniffin, I have to applaud them, for not being wusses, and seeking to control message so much that they refuse to engage with Hauser. All in all, thoughtful critiques go far in addressing the deficiencies in the system, ideally, and this is the case here. I firmly recommend any fight fan interested in how and why we see what we see read the annual Hauser holiday card to HBO. www.secondsout.com/columns/thomas-hauser/hbo-and-the-state-of-boxing–part-one
—Arum lauded the Texas commission for granting Margarito a license, and slammed the Cali commission for smearing the boxer. Man, I am really wondering if you got him deep off the record, and injected him with a liter of sodium pentathol, if Arum would tell you he thinks Capetillo was the lone gunman here?
—The promoter also welcomed my friend, Jose Sulaiman, the WBC chie. He presented Arum with a statue-trophy for his success in keeping boxing afloat. I believe this fight is going to be much better than what people say, Sulaiman said. I believe in the heart of this guy, he said, pointing at Margarito. He then drew a laugh when he said he and his family are Cowboys fans. We cry when they lose, and get drunk when they lose, he said.
–There will be a press conference for the undercard Thursday morning.
—The weigh in will be at 4:30 local time, on Friday.
*—Decide for yourself. It looks to me like Garcia is knee deep in the mockery, and it looks to me like Rios is mocking the facial expressions and tremors which stem from the Parkinsons. Does he get a pass because he says he didnt know the tremors result from the Parkinsons? www.badlefthook.com/2010/11/9/1804989/video-hype-antonio-margarito-and-brandon-rios-make-fun-of-parkinsons