Dubai: Manny Pacquiao more than made up with speed what he lacked in size, turning Antonio Margarito into a bloody mess with a dizzying array of punches on Sunday in a lopsided decision victory.
In a spectacular performance before a delighted crowd of 41,734 at Cowboys Stadium, Pacquiao cemented his claim to being the best boxer in the world by dominating the bigger but slower Margarito almost from the opening bell.
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Pacquiao won round after round, opening a cut on Margarito's cheek and closing his right eye.
The punches came quickly, and they came often. Margarito was plenty game as he tried to stalk Pacquiao around the ring, but every time he got close Pacquiao would land a four- or five-punch combination that snapped his head back and stopped him in his tracks.
The beating was so thorough that Pacquiao turned to referee Laurence Cole several times in the 11th round, imploring him to stop the fight. It went on, though, even though Margarito had no chance to win.
"I can't believe that I beat someone this big and this strong," Pacquiao said. "It's hard. I really do my best to win the fight."
Pacquiao moved up in weight yet again to take on Margarito, a natural welterweight with a reputation for ruggedness in the ring. And rugged he was, though he took a beating all night long at the hands of a faster and seemingly more powerful opponent.
"There was no way I was going to quit. I'm a Mexican, we fight until the end," Margarito said.
Pacquiao won every round on one scorecard, 120-108, and was ahead 119-109 and 118-110 on the other two. The Associated Press had it a 120-108 shutout.
"We didn't lose a round," said Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach. "I wish they would have stopped the fight."
That almost happened, but Cole allowed it to go on even as Margarito kept taking a beating. There wasn't any way Margarito was going to win the fight, but he could still see out of one eye and wanted to continue.
"I told the referee look at his eyes, look at his cuts," Pacquiao said. "I did not want to damage him permanently. That's not what boxing is about."
Ringside punch stats reflected Pacquiao's dominance, showing him landing 474 punches to 229 for Margarito.
Gulf News gives you a blow-by-blow report of the Pacquiao-Margarito fight, reporting from the Regent Palace Hotel in Dubai where hundreds of boxing fans have gathered to watch the exciting bout:
Round 12: Margarito is still throwing punches, but Pacquiao keeps up his punches. Pacquaio receives a four-punch combination to the head, but answers with a left hand punch. Pacquiao closes the round with a series of punches. Pacquiao wins the round.
Round 11: Margarito is weakening. Only a miracle can stop Pacman, who continues to pound Margarito with a series of blows to the head. Pacquiao throws and lands more uppercuts and right hand punches. Margarito's right eye is bleeding. Pacquiao closes with a four-punch combination.
Round 10: Margarito's eyes are nearly closed. The referee tests Margarito's vision before th start of the round. He allows the githt to continue. Pacquiao opens with a right hand punch that lands on Margarito. Pacquiao throws a flurry of punches. The crowd chants "Manny!" Margarito stays on his feet.
Round 9: Both boxers are showing strength. Margarito lands a hard right to Pacquiao's body. Pacquiao lands two left hand punches on Margarito's head. Pacquiao throws a Hard right hand, but takes one, and then lands another right hand punch on Margarito. Margarito's right eye has swollen.
Round 8: For the first time, Margarito throws a right hook that lands on Pacquiao. Pacquiao gets trapped on the ropes and throws some punches to escape. Margarito receives a big left punch. Margarito advances. An exchange of punches. Pacquiao is trapped along the ropes and receives some punches. But Pacquiao responds with punches of his own and closes strongly.
Round 7: Margarito is still fighting. Pacquiao avoids Margarito's body shot. Pacquiao lands a nice left punch. He takes a right to the body and two uppercuts from Margarito, who received a right, left right combination as the bell sounds. Pacquiao wins the round.
Round 6: Dallas and Dubai are shouting for Manny Pacquiao. Margarito can't escape the combinations thrown by Pacquiao, who lands a four-punch series of uppercuts. Margarito lands a left hand punch on Pacquiao's body, which pushes him against the ropes, but he quickly escapes. Margarito wins the round.
Round 5: Pacman is on top of the fight. He throws a six-punch combination on a wounded Margarito, whose right cheekbone is swelling.
Round 4: Pacquiao circles to his left and lands a double-right hook on Margarito. Pacquiao lands a hard right on Margarito and seven unanswered punches. Margarito pushes forward. Margarito takes a hard body shot. Pacquiao throws more punches. Margarito is bleeding.
Round 3: Pacquiao lands a combination of jabs and hooks on Margarito.
Margarito lands some punches on Pacquiao. Both fighters answer with punches. Margarito lands a right hand punch on Pacquiao but takes a hard left from Pacquiao. The crowd reacts. The round ends with Pacquiao landing a four-punch combination.
Round 2: Margarito is on guard but not throwing punches. Pacquiao throws a hard right but Margarito lands a left punch, and three more blows to Pacquiao's head and chest. Pacquiao lands a double-right hook and two left hand jabs. The second round ended in favour of Pacquiao.
Round 1: All you can hear is screaming from the crowd! Pacquiao throws jabs at Margarito and lands a few. Margarito is backing up. Pacquiao throws a three-punch combination. And another one. Margarito tries to land a right hand. Another three-punch combination for Pacquiao as the bell rings. Good round and start for Pacman.
The fight begins! Pacman opens with a right jab.
Manny Pacquiao now making his grand entrance, with coach Freddie Roach and entourage. Pacquiao is grinning.
Antonio Margarito enters the ring. He is wearing shorts with black and red colour combination.
They are playing the Philippine national anthem. In Manny Pacquiao's room, Roach is giving Pacquiao quick hand jab exercises. Antonio Margarito looks confident. It looks like a David Vs Goliath match, with Margarito being a bigger fighter than Manny Pacquiao.
The Mexican anthem is being played at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Texas, where an estimated crowd of 70,000 have gathered to watch the Pacquiao-Margarito fight.
Manny Pacquiao is in white shorts and getting instructions from coach Freddie Roach.
A few more minutes and the fight will start! The crowd is going wild, with many shouting Pacquiao's name. It's nearly time to "get ready to rrruuummmbbbllleee!"
An estimated crowd of 70,000 is at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium right now. Here in Dubai, Filipino expats in the crowd said they have requested to report late for work, or have taken a day off in order to watch the fight. It's definitely a pro-Pacquiao crowd here
Manny Pacquiao's coach, Freddie Roach, looks on as Antonio Margarito's team put bandage on his fists.
In a televised interview, Pacquiao is asked about his game plan. He humbly answers that he will do his best inside his ring.
It is packed here at the Regent Palace Hotel in Dubai. Boxing fans are excited for the match to begin. The crowd is a mix of Filipinos and other expats.
One more undercard and the Pacman-Margarito fight begins. In a televised interview, Pacquiao says he is excited to fight for the more than 50,000 crowd at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Texas.
Pacquiao's rise to stardom
The fight in Dallas will come with all the trimmings of superstardom that the boxing world loves to laud on its heroes. It is a lifestyle that a young Pacquiao could only have dreamed of as he battled poverty in the Philipppines, and one his mother Dionesia Pacquiao still wonders at.
"Manny was the silent type of a kid," she says, remembering the young Pacquiao.
"He grew up very religious. When he was still young, he would wake up early in the morning to pray the rosary. He would even wake me up and ask me to pray also.
"Among my children, he is really one of a kind. He could do all the household chores — the laundry, cleaning the house. I could fondly recall that he would brag to his wife Jinkee that he knows how to do the laundry," adds Dionesia.
Born on December 17, 1978, Pacquiao spent his early days in Kibawe, Bukidnon but later moved to General Santos City where his meteoric rise in boxing took its roots.
His story like many in the Philippines is one defined by poverty. It was poverty that forced him to quit school after finishing elementary education, and it was poverty that saw the young Pacquiao turn to boxing at the age of 16 as he struggled to support his family.
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"When we were still young, I saw how Manny worked hard to help uplift his family from poverty," says Nino Jumao-as, one of Pacquiao's best friends during his childhood days and his first sparring mate when he took up boxing. "We became friends when we were still 11 years old. We used to sell donuts and after we would practise boxing. We were both boxing enthusiasts, but I never thought Manny would eventually reach this far."
Early inspirations included legendary fighter Evander Holyfield, with the young Pacquiao always eager to catch big-time fights whenever he could.
However, Dionesia believes her son's love of boxing may have started even earlier. "When Manny was still inside my womb, he used to kick a lot or maybe he was already throwing punches," Dionesia says with a smile, while mimicking Pacquiao's vaunted punching combination.
It was Pacquiao's uncle, Zardo Mejia, was first noticed the potential of the youngster. He started training Pacquiao and was impressed with the boy's boxing intelligence.
"He was very dedicated and committed," says Mejia, who is an amateur trainer in General Santos. "He easily picked up instructions given to him."
Yet, for all the determination, the future Pacman did not immediately light up the ring.
"Manny was not among the elite group of boxing amateurs," says Rey Golingan, an amateur boxing promoter and manager in General Santos.
"But even if he was not among the top priorities when we would choose fighters for amateur boxing events in General Santos, you would see him lining up early to try to get the promoter's attention and get a fight. If he was not be selected, he would still stay on and watch and learn from the fights."
Such dedication slowly started to pay off, and Pacquiao started to make his presence felt. Shortly before his twentieth birthday he won his first world title — the WBC flyweight crown — and although he lost it barely a year later as he struggled to make the weight limit, he was well and truly on the path to greatness.
"Just allow me to do this. I know in my heart that someday I'll be world champion," he once told his concerned mother.
Today, he faces Mexican-American Antonio Margarito for the WBC Super Welterweight title. Whether he will fight on is a topic for debate, although it is widely recognised that his future lies in politics — he is currently a Congressman for his home province of Sarangani.
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"When he won as a Congressman, he hugged me tight and asked my blessing, ‘Mang, one more fight and after that I'll focus on serving the people'," says Dionesia.
That remains to be seen and the much-touted bout against archrival Floyd Mayweather Jr would be hard to resist, but whatever he chooses to do, the Pacman will be forever an idol to his family.
"I never thought he had this dream of pursuing a boxing career to take us out from poverty," says Baselisa "Liza" Pacquiao, Manny's elder sister.
- First boxer to win seven major world titles in seven different weight divisions
- Won by unanimous decision against Joshua Clottey and won by TKO against Miguel Cotto in his last two fights
- Lost by technical knock-out against Joshua Clottey and won against Miguel Cotto in his last two fights, both been marred by controversy that Margarito's handwraps were tampered with plaster inserts
With inputs from Jon Rhodes, Deputy Sports Editor, and agencies
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