(PHOTO AT LEFT - Manny Pacquiao and members of his camp – as well as some Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders – make their way to the final news conference before Pacquiao faces Antonio Margarito, left photo, at Cowboys Stadium. Photo/Chris Farina-Top Rank]

MANILA, NOVEMBER 14, 2010 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) Updated November 14, 2010 12:00 – Manny Pacquiao invades unchartered territory in making his debut as a superwelterweight against Antonio Margarito in their 12-round bout for the vacant WBC 154-pound title at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, this morning (Manila time).

Although the catchweight limit is 150 pounds, it will be Pacquiao’s first and probably last venture in a division, which could push him to the limit. Pacquiao has never weighed in more than 145 3/4 pounds for a fight – that was when he took on Joshua Clottey last March – while Margarito has scaled at least 150 in seven bouts.

For Pacquiao, his goal is legacy, if not immortality. He is already guaranteed a place in boxing’s revered Hall of Fame, having captured the imagination of the universe by becoming the first and only fighter ever to capture seven world titles in seven weight classes. A win over Margarito will literally put him over the top as it will add an eighth crown to his unprecedented collection.

Pacquiao has won world titles as a flyweight (112 pounds), superbantamweight (122), featherweight (126), superfeatherweight (130), lightweight (135), lightwelterweight (140) and welterweight (147). His recognition has come from the WBC, IBF, IBO and WBO. No fighter has been as dominant since the advent of the millennium. No Filipino athlete has gained as much global acclaim for his athletic achievements.

Here are the 20 factors of consequence in the Pacquiao-Margarito fight.

• Conditioning. Margarito punished himself in the gym for nine straight weeks. Pacquiao began his training camp in Baguio and tapered off at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, enduring a lot of distractions along the way. Margarito learned from his lesson of not watching his weight, which went up by 40 pounds, before the Sugar Shane Mosley fight last year. Advantage: Margarito.

• Ability to absorb. Margarito’s size gives him a weighty cushion to take the impact of the smaller Pacquiao’s blows. In contrast, Pacquiao may not be as sturdy against a bigger opponent. The key is whether or not Margarito will be able to land solidly because Pacquiao isn’t planning to stand around to get hit. Advantage: Margarito.

• Resiliency. Time and again, Pacquiao has shown an uncanny knack of making mid-fight adjustments. The perfect example was when he lured Miguel Cotto to the ropes and took away the Puerto Rican’s power left jab in a tactical shift that eventually decided the outcome of their brawl last year. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Relentless attack. Margarito was once described by Top Rank chairman Bob Arum as a freight train rolling downhill. The Tijuana Tornado will steamroll anyone in his path with an aggressive, come-forward style. He’ll throw punches from all angles and try to smother Pacquiao. Advantage: Margarito.

• Cornerwork. There’s no better trainer in the fight business today than Freddie Roach who’s cool, calm and composed. Roach eats pressure for breakfast, tension for lunch and anxiety for dinner. Nothing fazes Eddie Futch’s celebrated protégé. Margarito’s trainer Robert Garcia enjoyed success with Brian Viloria and Steven Luevano but he’s not in Roach’s class. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Quality of opposition. Pacquiao has tangled with future Hall of Famers like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez. Margarito’s list of opponents isn’t as impressive. Cotto and Joshua Clottey are common foes. Pacquiao took out Cotto in 12 while Margarito did it in 11. Both Pacquiao and Margarito went the distance in defeating Clottey. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Resistance to pressure. Pacquiao is a master at handling pressure. Margarito will try to crowd Pacquiao and force him to engage. Pacquiao won’t be goaded into a streetbrawl where Margarito is at his fiercest because the close-quarter exchanges allow him to fight dirty. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Experience. Margarito turned pro in 1994, a year before Pacquiao. But the Filipino icon has logged 56 bouts and the Mexican, 44. Margarito has fought twice in the last 23 months compared to Pacquiao who’s been a little more active with three. Margarito took a layoff of over a year because of his suspension stemming from the handwraps incident. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Combination punching. Margarito lets his hands go. He’s known as a volume power puncher. He’ll throw at every opportunity. Pacquiao doesn’t fire as much but when he does, it’s with conviction. Pacquiao uses combinations in good timing whenever there are angles that open up. If Pacquiao plays his cards right, he can turn Margarito into a bumbling opponent missing wildly at an elusive target. But in terms of volume punching, Margarito has the edge. Advantage: Margarito.

• Mental toughness. Focus is important. Pacquiao isn’t easily distracted once the bell rings. He is determined to get his way in the ring. He knows what it will take to bring down Margarito. Execution will come with the right frame of mind. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Body work. Margarito is the typical Mexican fighter who likes to thump the body, pound the midsection and bang the rib cage. His idea is to slow down Pacquiao with an unforgiving body assault. He has used body shots to knock out opponents like Kermit Cintron. Pacquiao isn’t as deadly as a body puncher. Advantage: Margarito.

• One-punch KO power. Because of his sheer size, Margarito has the capability to knock out Pacquiao with one shot. The problem is landing it squarely. Pacquiao won’t be a standing target and if Margarito is unable to cut the ring off, he’ll pursue his prey from pillar to post without catching him. In contrast, Pacquiao doesn’t have the one-punch knockout power he showed in disposing of Ricky Hatton whom he fought at a limit of 140 pounds. Advantage: Margarito.

• Defense. Margarito is wide open when he winds up to throw his punches. His defense is his offense. Margarito will attempt to put Pacquiao on the defensive with his whirlwind, tornado-like style. Pacquiao won’t be careless and will guard against getting hit by a lucky punch. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Technical proficiency. In terms of fundamentals, Margarito is woefully flawed. He has poor footwork, poor hand-foot coordination and poor skills. He walks towards his opponents and tries to push them where he wants them. Pacquiao is a lot more polished. With Roach, he has matured into an accomplished boxer-puncher. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Hunger. Margarito is obsessed and possessed in his desire to beat Pacquiao. His dream is to be where Pacquiao is now – on top of the world. Still suspended in Nevada and California for the handwraps discovery, Margarito wants vindication, recognition and redemption. He’s held the IBF and WBO welterweight championship belts but that’s nothing compared to Pacquiao’s seven titles. Advantage: Margarito.

• Heart. When Pacquiao climbs onto the ring, he fights for the Filipino nation. There isn’t a more courageous fighter. He never backs down. He endures pain. He won’t let the Filipino people down. Margarito isn’t as tough in the heart. In the Mosley fight, the Mexican quit in the ninth round. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Susceptibility to cuts. Margarito has a bleeder’s reputation. He cuts a lot more easily than Pacquiao although the Filipino has been known to shed blood, too. Margarito uses his head to butt and open up cuts. That’s what Pacquiao should watch for. Accuracy will determine which fighter is more vulnerable to bleeding. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Understanding the game. Pacquiao is much more adept at using the ring to his advantage. He’ll circle away from Margarito, fire on the backfoot and employ a hit-and-run strategy, particularly in the early rounds. Pacquiao doesn’t think on a round-to-round basis. He looks at the bigger picture and unravels a fight plan that evolves deliberately, not by accident. Margarito isn’t as intelligent. Advantage: Pacquiao.

• Recovery recoil. Pacquiao may not be able to recuperate from being hurt as quickly as Margarito because of his size disadvantage. Pacquiao can’t gamble on taking a shot to give a shot. Margarito is big and has power. Advantage: Margarito.

• Vulnerability to trap. Pacquiao won’t allow himself to be put in a precarious situation. Margarito will try to put Pacquiao in a position where he isn’t able to extricate. He’ll trap Pacquiao along the ropes or in a corner so the Filipino won’t be able to use open space. Pacquiao’s speed – both hand and foot – is vital in staying away from trouble. Advantage: Pacquiao.

Of the 20 factors of consequence, Pacquiao has the edge in 12 departments. It won’t be a cakewalk for either fighter. The odds may show Pacquiao to be an overwhelming favorite but when the bell rings, anything can happen in the square jungle. My prediction is Pacquiao will batter Margarito into submission in the ninth round.

Margarito's trainer no match for Roach? By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) Updated November 14, 2010 12:00 AM

The trainers on opposite camps were former fighters who’ve been there and done that. MANILA, Philippines – The trainers on opposite camps were former fighters who’ve been there and done that. They’re two of the best cornermen in the fight game today. Freddie Roach will be in Manny Pacquiao’s corner while Robert Garcia takes charge of Antonio Margarito’s corner when the bell rings to start the 12-round battle for the vacant WBC superwelterweight title at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, this morning (Manila time).

Roach, 50, was a pro boxer from 1978 to 1986, retiring with a record of 40-13, including 15 KOs. Trained by the legendary Eddie Futch, he gained a reputation as a never-say-die warrior who went toe-to-toe against world champions Bobby Chacon, Greg Haugen and Camacho. Roach had no inkling he would later become a hero in the Philippines when he posted his last win ever in the ring over a Filipino – Arnel Arrozal in Lynwood, Washington, in August 1986.

Garcia, 35, is regarded as a ring legend in Los Angeles like Oscar de la Hoya, Sugar Shane Mosley, Fernando Vargas, Genaro Hernandez, Bobby Chacon, Carlos Palomino, Mike Weaver, Mando Ramos and Manuel Ortiz. He turned pro at 17 in 1992 and won his first three bouts by knockout in Japan. Garcia compiled 32 straight wins and appeared invincible when he captured the vacant IBF superfeatherweight diadem on a decision over Harold Warren in Miami in 1998.

Garcia lost the crown in his third defense to Diego Corrales in 1999. Then, he was knocked out by Ghana’s Ben Tackie in the 10th and last round in Las Vegas a few months later. Garcia came back to outpoint Santos Marcos in Phoenix but was stopped by Cuba’s Joel Casamayor in a bid for the WBA throne in his next bout. Garcia retired from the ring at 26 in 2001 with a record of 34-3, including 25 KOs.

Roach has worked with at least 25 world champions while Garcia is still building up his resume, now listing former world titleholders Brian Viloria and Steven Luevano. Roach holds court at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. Garcia trains at the La Colonia Gym in Oxnard outside of Los Angeles.

Both are predicting knockout wins for their wards. Roach, however, has the edge in credibility because of his track record. He said he expects the first four rounds to be explosive.

“We’ll see a very competitive first four rounds,” Roach said. “Margarito will come out attacking. Then, Manny will start breaking him down with his power and speed. He won’t be able to handle Manny’s speed. He’ll begin feeling Manny’s power and remember, he cuts easily. Manny will go on to beat him up badly. I think it’ll be over by the eighth round.”

Margarito, 32, is coming off a unanimous 10-round decision over Roberto Garcia for the vacant WBC International superwelterweight crown in Aguascalientes, Mexico, last May. Garcia was floored in the first round and was never in contention as the judges scored it 100-88, 99-90 and 99-89. It was Margarito’s first fight with Garcia in his corner. Margarito’s record is 38-6, with 27 KOs compared to Pacquiao’s 51-3-2, with 38 KOs. Pacquiao, 31, has won his last 12 fights, eight inside the distance, and hasn’t lost since dropping a decision to Erik Morales five years ago. If he beats Margarito, Pacquiao will set a new record by capturing his eighth world title in eight different divisions.

In a recent interview, Roach denied facing off with Garcia twice. It was reported that Garcia had chalked up two wins over Roach in opposing corners. “I only remember one fight and it was a controversial ending,” said Roach referring to Luevano’s win by disqualification over Bernabe Concepcion last year. “All I know was my boy (Concepcion) knocked out Luevano but the referee ruled the punch came after the bell ending the seventh round.”

Roach said Margarito is “limited” as a fighter and once he feels Pacquiao’s power, he’ll begin to lose heart. “We’ve covered all the bases, using sparmates to simulate what we’re anticipating from Margarito,” said Roach. “To win, Garcia’s got to change Margarito’s style and that’s not going to happen. We noticed Margarito used a little more movement in his last fight against Garcia but that won’t be enough.”

Garcia is nicknamed “Grandpa” because he was so advanced in boxing at an early age. When he was five, Garcia began studying his father Eduardo train fighters at the La Colonia gym. “By the time I was 12, guys started calling me ‘Grandpa’ because I already knew so much about boxing,” said Garcia who is Nonito Donaire’s chief strategist.

Margarito drained at 150 - Buboy By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) Updated November 14, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (2)

DALLAS – Buboy Fernandez said he saw everything he wanted to see during Friday’s official weigh-in.

And that includes an Antonio Margarito who struggled to make the agreed catchweight of 150 lb for Saturday’s title fight with Manny Pacquiao.

Fernandez, the only Filipino in Pacquiao’s corner during fights, was just a couple of feet away as Margarito took off his black Dolce and Gabbana outfit and tipped the scales at 150 flat.

He said Margarito must have starved himself to death as the former welterweight champion appeared to be trembling.

“Pumiga talaga. Kanina paghubad lang ng damit makikita mo parang nanginginig eh,” said Fernandez as he marched his way out of the Cowboys Stadium following the weigh-in.

Pacquiao tipped the scales at 144.6, even lower than what was expected, and according to Fernandez will climb the ring on Saturday at 147 or 148 lb, just about his natural fighting weight.

Margarito came up the stage first, took a seat, crossed his legs, and hardly moved. With his sunglasses on, he smiled to the crowd and gave the thumbs-up sign.

But behind those eyes, the moment he took off his sunglasses, was a man who looked drained, dry and weak. Just after he got off the scales, a big bottle of protein shake was handed him.

The bottle was empty by the time he got off the stage, his left arm on his trainer Robert Garcia’s shoulder, and the trainer’s right arm wrapped around Margarito’s waist.

Pacquiao and Margarito stood face to face, in front of the cameras, and as Pacquiao rejoined his small group on stage, he was seen motioning to his trainer Freddie Roach, as if saying that Margarito’s legs were wobbly.

Pacquiao arrived at the weigh-in in his favorite jeans, running shoes, yellow shirt, a red Team Pacquiao jacket and a big white bonnet of the brand of shampoo he endorses back home.

Pacquiao tipped the scales with only his blue boxers and white socks on could, and could have made weight even if he left his clothes on.

Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach, Alex Ariza, claimed that he saw Margarito going out for a run at 8 o’clock in the evening Tuesday, a clear sign he was truly having problems with his weight.

“Nahirapan talaga. I saw him on the treadmill the other day, and they even went to the sauna. I heard he was at 158 two weeks ago,” he said.

Fernandez said he knows how difficult it is making weight when it no longer possible.

“Manny went through the same process when he was in the lighter weights. I think Margarito knew it would be difficult to make 150, and yet he took opportunity to fight Manny,” he said.

Pacquiao smiled most of the time he was up on stage, and even had the luxury of a good lunch just hours prior to the weigh-in that took place at 5 p.m.

“We’re coming in at around 148 tomorrow,” Fernandez said.

“And Margarito? I want him to come in at 180.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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