(PHOTO AT LEFT - Antonio Margarito IN DALLAS, TEXAS]

DALLAS, NOVEMBER 14, 2010 (STAR) By Abac Cordero – Manny Pacquiao is right where he wants to be heading to Friday’s official weigh-in.

Antonio Margarito, meanwhile, is having problems making weight, according to Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach, Alex Ariza.

That, he said, is good news for Pacquiao and everyone behind him.

“He looked terrible to me. He looked like he left everything in the ring,” said Ariza of Margarito, always in his sweatsuit whenever, wherever he trains.

Ariza also claimed that Margarito was out running at around 8 p.m. Tuesday, a clear, positive sign that the 5-foot-11 Mexican is having great difficulty making the catchweight of 150 lb.

“If you are close to the weight and you’re not having problems in camp, you don’t go running at eight o’clock at night,” said Ariza without sharing any other details to the media.

“You can’t tell me that. You can tell everybody else who don’t know shit about boxing but you’re not gonna tell me that.”

Ariza is strongly convinced that Margarito is overweight, and in Wednesday’s final press conference for Saturday’s big fight at the Cowboys Stadium, he saw something in the Mexican challenger.

“He’s grossly emaciated and he’s gaunt. That’s why he was wearing the sunglasses. He just don’t want to give away the signs in his eyes. It probably is true that he was pounds away from the weight the whole camp,” he said.

But there are reports as well, as early as a week ago, that Margarito had made weight. Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, said that’s not a good sign either because fighters normally make weight at the day of the weigh-in.

“That’s what he’s saying?” asked Ariza.

“I don’t know. I’ve never had any of my fighters with plastics since day one and weigh-in day with plastics. He doesn’t look good to me,” he said, referring to the sweatsuits.

“I’ve been in this business for a long time and I know how a fighter should look like at the scales. On Friday you’ll see for yourselves. I think he’s gonna make the weight but I think he’s gonna kill himself to make the weight. He’s going to look like a shell.”

Margarito should be starving himself going to the weigh-in which is set at the Cowboys Stadium at 5 p.m.

Margarito’s trainer, Robert Garcia, said there’s no problem with the weight, adding that his boxer should tip the scales right at 150, and climb the ring the following day no heavier than 162.

“I have no problem with my weight. I’ve never had problems making weight,” Margarito also said.

Pacquiao certainly has no problems because he’s the one moving up in weight.

Roach said Pacquiao will tip the scales at 148 to 149 lb, and climb the ring Saturday at almost the same weight.

“He’ll have breakfast and lunch before going to the weigh-in,” said Roach.

“Maybe Manny should invite him (Margarito) to lunch,” he added.

Pacquiao's hit list THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) Updated November 14, 2010 12:00 AM 

Manny Pacquiao faces perhaps his biggest challenge today, an attempt to annex a world title in an unprecedented eighth weight class. The catchweight notwithstanding, it is still a dangerous proposition for the WBO welterweight champion, simply because he has not fought anyone Antonio Margarito’s size, with the latter trying to redeem his tarnished reputation.

The odds say that it will be a Pacquiao victory, albeit a difficult one. Whatever happens, it will be another addition to Pacquiao’s list of greatest hits. Let’s look back at some of his greatest triumphs in the ring.

Oscar De La Hoya, Dec. 6, 2008. This fight was significant because the Golden Boy is Moby Dick on Pacquiao’s list, the biggest name that Pacman has defeated. There were many mind games going into this fight, which many people thought would never happen. Oscar wasn’t really interested in Manny, the size difference was too big. In the US, the former Olympic champ was being needled for picking on “the little guy”. Originally announced as De La Hoya’s farewell fight, it was also going to be a marketing bonanza for Golden Boy, who had been picking opponents to his advantage.

This was, however, going to be the showcase for the new, complete Manny Pacquiao. It was an embarrassment for De La Hoya, as Pacquiao unveiled equal power in both fists, and used the ring so masterfully, De La Hoya was caught punching air. Hoping the Filipino would engage him in close quarters, Golden Boy was sadly mistaken. By the fourth round, it was clear he couldn’t tag Pacquiao, often getting bombarded from the side after missing badly. Eventually realizing that he was on the verge of being knocked out in the eighth, De La Hoya decided he wanted to finish his career on his feet, or rather, on his seat, and quit.

Juan Manuel Marquez, March 15, 2008. The first of three fights for Pacquiao that year, preceding David Diaz and De La Hoya. Pacquiao fought three times at three different weights that year. This match, for Marquez’s WBC super featherweight crown, was a gateway for Pacquiao. After a controversial draw with Dinamita, loose ends had to be tied up. Marquez was the biggest thorn in Pacquiao’s side, and many still believe he has always been the Filipino’s toughest opponent. In this match, Pacquiao sidesteps a Marquez attack in the third round, and drops the champion. That extra point was the cushion Pacquiao needed to carve out a split decision.

Of course, what a lot of people remember is the aftermath. Marquez demanded a third fight, and even stalked Pacquiao in the Philippines. When Manny attended a Gerry Peñalosa fight at the Araneta Coliseum, Marquez – who was in the country to negotiate a television commercial – goaded Pacquiao, announcing in front of the huddled media that “everybody knows” he was the real winner of their fight. A more mature Pacquiao smiled it off. This started a quest for Marquez to chase Pacquiao, moving up in weight, as well. But Pacquiao went on to bigger things.

Erik Morales, Jan. 21, 2006. This was the second fight of the trilogy. Ten months prior, Morales had dealt Pacquiao his last loss via unanimous decision. Each fighter had possessed the WBC international super featherweight title in the last year, and it was up for grabs in this world title eliminator. At a noisy Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Pacquiao started the fight with a little trepidation. Despite not having that much punching power, Morales was perhaps the most accurate of all of Pacquiao’s foes. Since he was a proud son of a well-to-do family, Morales was not as popular as Marco Antonio Barrera or Juan Manuel Marquez in his own home of Mexico, but he was well-respected.

Pacquiao darted in and out for a lot of this fight, and Morales did his best to slice up the Filipino champ with his precision. However, in the middle rounds, it was clear that Pacman’s superior power was taking its toll. A well-rounded attack sent Morales down for good in the tenth round, and Pacquiao had banished another ghost. The final rematch only confirmed what was clear: Pacquiao was already at another level.

Chatchai Sasakul, Dec. 4, 1998. Pacquiao’s first world title, the WBC flyweight belt. Held outdoors on hostile territory at the Tonsuk College Grounds in Phuttamonthon, Thailand, Pacquiao was still the rough but game contender willing to take a hit to get a good punch in. Sasakul was already backpedaling most of the fight, and Pacquiao gamely chased him. A powerhouse left straight backed the champion into the ropes, and another one seconds later sent him flat on his face.

Sasakul tried to get up, but tumbled onto his back, instead. Pacquiao was jubilant.

Pacquiao scored two more knockouts after that, before losing the title to Medgoen Singsurat in Thailand. There were still lessons to be learned, and Pacman was still evolving, and moving up in weight.

Miguel Angel Cotto, Nov. 14, 2009. Exactly a year ago, Pacquiao claimed his record-setting seventh title, but it was scary. This was the first time that Pacquiao was fighting a legitimate welterweight, and one who had an impressive record. Pacquiao had already reached the peak of his development, and it would take all his skill to conquer the WBO welterweight champion. Cotto had beaten Shane Mosley and Zab Judah and was naturally bigger and stronger. The big test was how much Pacquiao could take of Cotto’s power.

Eventually, Pacquiao wore Cotto down with a consistent attack and perpetual movement. Pacquiao showed signs of wear and tear, but would never slow down. An anxious Filipino audience was worried that Cotto would not go down. But in the 12th round, it was clear Cotto was in trouble. Referee Kenny Bayless, who was also the third man in the ring in the Pacquiao-Hatton bout months before, knew the end was near. Fifty-five seconds into the 12th round, Pacquiao knocked out Cotto.

What was shocking about this fight was how marked Pacquiao was afterwards. He had a black eye, a cast on one hand, and a bandage on one ear. It was obvious that he had taken a big risk moving to a higher division that time. But it was worth it to etch his name deeper into the record books.

There have been many other spectacular wins by Pacquiao, such as his devastation of Ricky Hatton and his cold-blooded assassination of David Diaz, not to mention the years of slaughtering the best Mexican fighters. Now Pacquiao has reached the upper limits of his quest, hoping his reach will not finally exceed his grasp. We pray for his success.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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