January 26, 2009

Lamenting a Margarito vs. Pacquiao

Yesterday, American "Sugar" Shane Mosley pounded Antonio Margarito of Mexico all through eight rounds (of a scheduled 12) and 43 seconds of boxing and wrested the world (WBA) welterweight title in a stunning upset of "El Tornado de Tijuana".

Again, after Dec 7th of last year, except for the extra (ceremonial) 43 seconds this time, a world boxing championship fight ended in the eighth round.

Again, less than two months after Dec 7th, another boxing crowd went home counting their tears instead of their money. Margarito was the overwhelming favorite of the boxing fans who watched the fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.

Again, it was speed that did it for the winner; adding credence to the philosophy of some sportspeople who firmly (or are beginning to) believe that the sport of boxing is all about speed.

Our very own Manny Pacquiao almost did the same thing when he mauled into submission world boxing hero Oscar De La Hoya last December.

Manny, in increasing demonstration during his last nine fights, has shown the world that a power punch can turn into an atomic bomb inside the ring if trained and used with speed. Shane Mosley has just said "ditto".

That's why I would have wanted Manny to fight Margarito after DLH. I wanted Manny to formally tuck-in a world welterweight belt -- his fifth weight division title (excl. The Ring Magazine featherweight) -- from the more prestigious World Boxing Association.

Well, I knew then that such a matchup was not going to happen in the immediate because Mosley was already slated to fight the Mexican. But some analyst said it was not going to happen at any time simply because of the difference in size between the two (and this was right after a super-featherweight Pacquiao demolished a lightweight Diaz and a super-welterweight/light-middleweight DLH in quick succession!)

Margarito was ripe for the picking for Manny. The former had just earned his own prestigious place in boxing history after a sensational dethroning of the equally amazing Miguel Angel Cotto of Puerto Rico. He is of the same age as Manny (30) and has fought almost as many professional fights as DLH (44). He is big -- almost the same bodily dimensions as that of Oscar. And yes, he is Mexican -- just like all of Manny's recent trophies. Quick and strong as he is, I saw Margarito as just too slow for Manny. It's just sad that it is Shane Mosley who was able to prove this.

During the post-fight yesterday, ringside commentators pondered on what's next for both Margarito and Mosley. They were one in saying a Margarito-Pacquiao is an interesting fight to see; and even toyed on a long-shot Mosley-Pacquiao.

For me though, both scenarios are now long-shots. There is no more stake for Manny to fight Margarito; and Mosley would be better off fighting next Miguel Cotto in a grudge rematch and then retire (his age was beginning to show in his last fight). Besides, both prospects will not give Manny the money he wants (or needs) in a match. Manny would rather fight IBO champ Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. , and then hang up his gloves for good. The buzz is that Manny will be guaranteed at least $12 million in his fight against The Hitman on May 2. It does not take a boxing pundit to infer a Pacman-Pretty Boy bout next will be double the financial fun.

Manny will breeze by Hatton in May. He is going to get his fifth world title in as many weight divisions (despite IBO being a relatively obscure sanctioning body). He will then give Pretty Boy Mayweather a pretty good fight and, win or loose, will retire as one of the world's greatest fighters in the square ring.

I will continue to lament the fact that Manny chose to embrace a different philosophy in capturing boxing greatness. Manny did not care about "defending his title the longest", "winning unification bouts", or even "gaining multi-division titles". For him, these have become mere incidentals in a quest that is more defined by his vision of becoming a more relevant hero in the eyes (and stomach, if I may say) of his countrymen.

Manny himself has long admitted (since beating Barrera in 2003, I reckon) he is already a "made" man in boxing -- his dreams as a professional boxer already fulfilled. He is on to some grander mission. For Manny, it is not enough that his rags-to-riches story is already an inspiration to many. He wants to be in the Philippine Congress by 2010 because he wants to "serve his kababayans more". He has in fact switched battlegrounds (from the Gensan-South Cotabato 1st District to the lone district of Sarangani) to improve his chances; and, in what seems to be part of a contingency, his lawyer (Atty. Jeng Gacal) is reportedly throwing himself back into the political arena once again and has trained his eyes towards the 1st congressional district.

Manny and his team will certainly need all the cash he can muster now and from his next two fights if he wants to break through the current political dynasties' foothold in his hometown. These dynasties themselves are built on wealth and are made formidable by strong influence and patronage politics.

If he will be successful this time in this quest and things will eventually turn out for the better for Manny's hometown and for this country, I wouldn't mind if a Margarito versus Pacquiao and similar matchups for Manny will never happen in history.

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