Friday, October 1, 2010

The Three Things Wrong with Pacquiao vs Margarito

Photo credit: Sumio Yamada – By Ryan Dunn: Make no mistake about it, I am a Manny Pacquiao fan. I was also a big Antonio Margarito fan before his hand-wrap controversy. But after the last few Pacquiao fights (Clottey excepted) where he proven over and over his ability to fight and win a smart puncher’s fight, the fans are looking for something more, something else.

Despite my disdain, however, I still think it will be an exciting fight. It is a bit of a contradiction, I know, but as a boxing fan down to my heart, I have no intentions of missing the action. I do, however, have concerns and disappointments which I hope the promoters of one of the oldest professional sports in the world may take note of. The fans have a voice, and we’re speaking out. We feel as though we’ve been left by the wayside in favor of greed, ego and bureaucracy. It’s a shame, but it’s our reality. 

From what I can see, there are three central reasons why Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito on November 13th, 2010, is all wrong for boxing…

1. It’s Not Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done about this problem, since Floyd has expressed he is not thinking about boxing, and does not seem interested nor prepared for a fight this November. Much has been said about who said what, what went down, what did not and so forth, but the bottom line is that Floyd is on break, and we as fight fans have to respect that, even if we’d rather see him get it on with Manny.

While this fight — and this article — is not about Floyd, in a way it is ALL about Floyd. More specifically, it is about the second failed negotiations to put together one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport. A fight that would heal the scarlet letter branded into boxing’s chest. A fight that would lift the sport from its funk, and get people who never cared about the game before to pay attention. A fight that would prove to the world that boxing can be a noble sport, despite the fanfare, and that the younger upstarts like MMA and UFC are just toddlers by comparison.

A fight that we all hope will still one day take place, while both fighters are fighting at their best.

2. Margarito Shouldn’t Be Licensed

I am definitely on the side of Chris Mannix in believing whole-heartedly that Margarito should not be allowed to fight in any state, nor any country, until the athletic commission who suspended him lifts that suspension. In this case, California imposed his ban from the sport, and denied him reinstatement only a few weeks ago. All of the other commissions would have done well to respect that ruling. Respect to Nevada for following suit.

The fact that Texas gave him a license to fight with little struggle is a black eye to the sport, and shows that there may be more palm greasing going on in the game than some would like to believe. Top Rank Promotions, Jerry Jones, and the athletic commission of Texas all have incentive to make this fight happen, as it will likely draw more than 70,000 fans to Cowboys Stadium, and bless (curse?) Texas with another big night of boxing.

We can all discuss the moral high-ground, forgiveness, lifetime bans, and so forth, but as of right now, Margarito still denies he knew anything about what he did, and has not apologized to Shane Mosley nor any possible previous victims of this atrocity such as Miguel Cotto. Even if Margarito claims ignorance to knowing what was wrapped around his hands, he still has every obligation to apologize to those unsuspecting opponents he stepped into the ring against. That much we can all agree on.

3. Pacquiao Had Better Options

Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, knew full well that there were dozens of fighters for Manny to take on, and at least five serious contenders primed to enhance Pacquiao’s legacy further. Instead, he has chosen Margarito, whose new nickname should be The Pugilistic Pariah. I can only imagine Arum is banking on the controversy surrounding Antonio as a means of promoting the fight. A story of second chances and more accolade for Pacquiao. The problem is that neither fighter is a true Light Middleweight, so the accolade will have an asterisks even more than the previous seven titles Manny has accumulated on his way to superstardom.

What about Timothy Bradley, perhaps the most promising undefeated up-and-comer, and a genuine boxer like Floyd? It would be a great test, and good preparation for a Mayweather showdown. Bradley ran a clinic on Lamont Peterson and showed great heart in his win over Abregu last month. This, to me, would have had the makings of a great test for the pound-for-pound king Pacquiao, and would quiet many critics who feel Manny has avoided clever fighters, opting instead for warrior battles against come-ahead punchers. Oh, by the way, Bradley’s available, too!

What about Shane Mosley, who would gladly pay the feather-fisted Sergio Mora some step-aside money in order to meet Manny in the ring? Mosley went twelve rounds and lost clearly to Floyd, true, but he’s still a good style match-up for Manny. Perhaps Arum was not interested in Pacquiao being Floyd’s clean-up man for the third time, who knows?

There’s also Angulo, who has looked more than impressive against Alcine and Julio, and who is available this Fall? He holds the WBC Light Middleweight belt, so there’s the chance for the eighth title in a legitimate match-up. There’s also the Mexican fan-base and — for those who might not now — Alfredo is an interesting character with an interesting story that would play well on a venue like HBO’s 24/7. We all would like some insight as to why he turned down $750,000 to fight Martinez, also.

How about Andre Berto, who is available and won an impressive TKO over Quintana this past April? Martinez may be a little too large of frame for Pacquiao, but why not? Manny hasn’t showed any weakness at the heavier weights thus far. Heck, I’d even pay to see Paul Williams in with Manny, a completely different type of challenge for him. There are more than this, of course. And Margarito wouldn’t even show up as a top ten choice on many fans’ lists.

At the end of the day, however, this is the fight we boxing fans were given, whether we like it or not; the problem is that most of us do not. We can only outcry for the best fights, and little more. While other sports are designed so that the best compete against the best, but boxing is not other sports, though sometimes we may wish it were. A National Boxing Association could remedy many of the inherent problems where the wrong people have all of the control.

You may and likely do find more things wrong with this fight, but they are secondary to the above three. We are still waiting for a bold move in this sport, a chance for boxing to get it right, as they say. And we’ve got our eyes fixed on May 2011 already…



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