By Jeff Zimmerman and Peter Lim at ringside
Pacquiao-Margarito photos: Naoki Fukuda
Undercard photos: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) once again gobbled up his bigger, stronger opponent with his speed and power and this time it was over the controversial Antonio “Tijuana Tornado” Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) who bravely or crazily withstood the assault over twelve rounds. Pacquiao won a resounding unanimous decision with scores of 120-108, 118-110, and 119-109 in front of 41,734 at Cowboy Stadium.
Pacquiao battered Margarito with vicious shots from every angle imaginable and caused so much swelling around both eyes, it was a small feat that Margarito could see enough to find his corner after each round. The initial damage started in the 3rd round with a crushing left hand upper cut by Pacquiao and by the 4th round Margarito had a nice size lump under his right eye.
Pacquiao, always the humanitarian, even looked towards Referee Laurence Cole in the 11th round wanting him to stop the fight. Cole tested Margarito’s eye sight twice by holding up his fingers to start round ten and momentarily stopped the fight in round eleven to do the same.
“My opponent looked bad; I wanted the ref to stop it. I looked at his eyes and cuts and I didn’t want to damage him permanently, that’s not what boxing is about,” Pacquiao said after the fight.
Freddy Roach, Pacquiao’s esteemed trainer, took his own shot at the corner of Margarito.
“We won every round; I only wish they would have stopped the fight. He took a lot of damage, but he’s a very tough guy. I was surprised how tough he was. He (Margarito) has the worst corner; they could have ruined his career for not stopping the fight.”
Margarito had no plans to quit and told his corner as much.
“No, no way. I’m a Mexican, we fight to the end.”
Sergio Diaz, the manager of Margarito, gave this perspective of the fight.
“It took a very bad turn when Manny hit a bad upper cut that opened his face. He (Margarito) didn’t want it to stop (referring to the fight).”
If there was ever the slightest chance that Margarito could pull off the major upset of Pacquiao, the pound for pound king, the stage was set for it to happen.
After living in boxing purgatory for close to two years from the illegal hand wrap scandal, Margarito had his career saved by Promoter Bob Arum and the Texas Boxing Commission. He then hired the well respected Robert Garcia as his new trainer and appeared to be in the best shape of his life.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, was elected as Congressman in his native Philippines and was trying to balance boxing and his new career as a politician. Roach even went so far as to call it the worst camp they have ever had.
Pacquiao, though, fights for a bigger cause. He fights for his country, the people of the Philippines. His sole purpose is to entertain and make people happy. Another words, there was nothing Margarito could have done that would have changed the outcome. In fact, Margarito put up a good fight and even hurt Pacquiao.
“In the 6th round, he got me with a good body shot, it’s really painful and I’m lucky to survive that round,” Pacquiao explained.
Pacquiao added, “It was a hard fight. It was the hardest fight of my boxing career. Margarito is really tough and strong. I did my best to win.”
It’s hard to believe that this was Pacquiao’s toughest fight, as the stats would tell you otherwise. Pacquiao landed a blistering 411 power shots out of 474 total punches connected. The 474 punches landed were #8 all-time in title fights. In comparison, Margarito landed only a 135 power punches.
Pacquiao could have coasted to victory without risking toe-to-toe exchanges as he did in the 6th and 8th rounds with the larger Margarito, but as always, he aims to please.
“My concern is not just for myself but for the people, my concern is how I can give excitement to the people who are going to watch the fight, I want them to be happy that’s all.”
Prior to the fight, Garcia said the plan was for Margarito to withstand the speed of Pacquiao early and take him out in the later rounds. Garcia, though, admitted afterwards Pacquiao is just too fast.
“He is the fastest fighter of our era, no one can match his speed.”
With the victory, Pacquiao added the WBC Super Welterweight title to his accomplishments as he became the first fighter to win 8 world titles. Pacquiao has indicated he will continue to box although suitable opponents seemed to be dwindling. And of course the only fight anyone really cares about is Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“I’ll fight anyone, anytime. If not, I’m satisfied, but it would be great for boxing,” Pacquiao admitted when asked about fighting Mayweather Jr.
As for Margarito, once he heals, Arum has suggested pairing him again with Miguel Cotto in New York at either Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden. After the hand wraps were discovered prior to the Mosley fight, many boxing insiders suggested Margarito had loaded gloves against Cotto due to the severe damage he did to Cotto’s face.
But before this fight gets formally announced, Margarito may have to once again explain his way out of more controversy that occurred prior to the fight with Pacquiao. A mysterious bottle was found in Margarito’s dressing room and the banned substance, ephedrine. Apparently it never made its way to Margarito’s body and according to Arum the bottle was thrown out. As with the hand wraps, Roach video and now this, look for Team Margarito to put a nice spin on it.
As for Pacquiao, you can catch him and his band performing in Lake Tahoe before he heads back to the Philippines to serve his people. After the boxing lesson Margarito received from Pacquiao, he may want to hire Pacquiao for life lessons as well. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Rigondeaux claims WBA belt in 7th fight
Legendary Cuban amateur star Guillermo Rigondeaux (7-0, 5 KOs) scored a 12-round split decision over Ricardo Cordoba (37-3-2, 23 KOs), to capture the WBA interim super bantamweight title. A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Rigondeaux was the aggressor for the first six rounds. He stalked Cordoba around the ring and darted in and out of range with combinations but missed more than he landed. Cordoba tried to counter but he too missed more than he landed.
Rigondeaux sent Cordoba to a knee with a left to the ribcage in the fourth and Cordoba got credit for a knockdown in round six when Rigondeaux’s glove touched the canvas after he was hit by a jab.
Rigondeaux decided to change strategies in the second half of the bout as he glided around the ring and made Cordoba chase him. Neither fighter landed anything significant but Rigondeaux missed less. The crowd booed the lack of action as early as the third round and entertained themselves by doing the wave.
Scores were 114-112 and 117-109 for Rigondeaux and 114-112 for Cordoba. (Peter Lim)
Jones outlasts Soto-Karass
Russell Peltz promoted and undefeated Philly fighter Mike Jones (23-0, 18 KOs) survived the tough Jesus Soto-Karass (24-5-3, 16 KOs) with a majority decision over ten action packed rounds. The scores read 94-94, 95-94 and 97-93.
Jones was ready to put Soto-Karass away in the 2nd round as he unleashed a barrage of punches to the head and body of Soto-Karass against the ropes, but somehow Soto-Karass survived. Soto-Karass recovered by the end of the round and turn the tide as Jones appeared to punch himself out.
From the 3rd to the 6th round it appeared Soto-Karass was in complete control as Jones lost his legs and lost the zap on his punches. Soto-Karass was the clear aggressor and was landing solid left hooks to the body of Jones. Soto-Karass had suffered cuts above both his left and right eyes and was bleeding throughout the fight. Besides blood covering his face, it never appeared to get in his eyes or become a factor.
By the 7th round, Jones seemed to recover and got his legs back, but Soto-Karass was still landing the bigger blows and following Jones around the ring. Jones realizing he needed to finish strong started letting his hands go more regularly in the 9th and 10th round and won those rounds on all the judges’ scorecards.
Referee Rafael Ramos stopped the action briefly in the 9th round so the doctor could take a look at the profuse bleeding above Soto-Karass eyes. Jones also sustained a cut above the right eye that required stitches after the fight.
The crowd and media alike were in dismay when the final scores were read, especially the 97-93 that Judge Sergio Caiz scored for Jones. It appeared Soto-Karass was the clear aggressor and landed much bigger shots through the course of the fight.
Soto-Karass thought he won as well.
“That’s the way the judges saw it, and that was all out robbery, Soto-Karass emphatically stated.
Jones seemed more relieved by the decision and was glad to remain undefeated.
“He had a real hard head and battled. My legs got weak. But I finished strong because I knew the fight was close.” (Jeff Zimmerman)
Rios pounds Lowther
WBA #1, WBC #4 lightweight Brandon Rios remained undefeated at (26-0-1, 19 KOs), stopping Omri Lowther, (14-3, 10 KOs) at 2:17 of the fifth round.
Rios wore down Lowther with relentless pressure and power punches from both fists upstairs and down. Lowther deployed a stick-and-move strategy and clinched when Rios got too close for comfort but Rios found it easier to cut off the ring the longer the fight progressed.
While Lowther rattled off punches of the pity-patty variety, Rios planted his feet and unleashed his blows with full conviction and pivot. Rios hurt Lowther in the fifth with a one-two and followed up with sharp straight rights and left hooks. Referee Raul Caiz intervened as Lowther’s corner was climbing up the ring to throw in the towel.
The bout was arranged on short notice after Kelly Pavlik pulled out of the scheduled co-feature. (Peter Lim)
Marroquin mauls Dominguez
Featherweight Roberto Marroquin (17-0, 13 KOs) dropped Francisco Dominguez (8-8, 2 KOs) first with a left hook and finished him off later in the round with a left, right combination as Referee Raul Caiz waived it off at 1:27 of the very 1st round.
Marroquin came out from the opening bell and showed his dominance over the inferior Dominguez. Marroquin, a Dallas native, fought on the undercard of Pacquiao’s last fight at Cowboy Stadium back in March. Marroquin is already highly ranked, look for 2010 to be a breakout year for one of Top Rank’s hottest young stars. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Lee destroys Debow
Light heavyweight Mike Lee (3-0, 2 KOs) blasted away Keith Debow (0-3-1) with a two-fisted barrage punctuated by and overhand right at 1:33 of the opening round. Lee is a former boxing champion at Notre Dame University. (Peter Lim)
Benavidez blasts Mathis
Top Rank’s best young prospect and only 18 years old, Junior Welterweight Jose Benavidez Jr dropped the rugged Winston Mathis (6-3, 2 KOs) twice at the end of the first round with left hooks to the body. In the 3rd round, Benavidez ended the fight with a left hook and over hand right combination.
Although Mathis remained on his feet, he did slightly touch the canvas with his glove and therefore was ruled a knockdown by Referee Neil Young. As the ref began to count, he decided Mathis had enough as he was momentarily out on his feet from the initial blast by Benavidez.
Mathis protested the stoppage as he had recovered and pushed the ref away in disgust. Benavidez got the win and TKO at 2:23 of the third round. Benavidez improves to 9-0 with 9 KOs.
Benavidez suffered a cut above his right eye that required stitches after the fight. Benavidez was already scheduled to fight on the December 4th undercard of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr vs. Alfonso Gomez in Anaheim, but with the fight 3 weeks away, that may be in jeopardy.
Benavidez should rise quickly up the ranks and continue his quest for a world title as this young pro has super star written all over him. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Mepranum wins split decision
Former WBO flyweight title challenger Richie Mepranum (17-3-1, 3 KOs) returned from his loss against world champion Julio Cesar “Pingo” Miranda with a tougher than expected split decision win over Anthony Villareal (10-4, 5 KOs). Scores were 58-56, 58-56, 56-58. The bout was shortened from eight to six rounds. (Peter Lim)
Rodriguez surprises Elorde
Unheralded junior lightweight Angel Rodriguez (6-4-1, 4 KOs), scored a minor upset, handing southpaw Juan Martin Elorde (11-1, 4 KOs), his first defeat with a four round unanimous decision. Scores were 40-36, twice and 39-37. Elorde is the grandson of Hall of Fame inductee Flash Elorde. (Peter Lim)
Late knockdown propels Meza
Oscar Meza (20-4, 17 KOs) wins a four round unanimous decision over Jose Hernandez (10-3, 4 KOs). Meza dropped Hernandez with a left hook to the head right before the final bell. Two judges had it 38-37 and the other 39-36. (Jeff Zimmerman)
Laurente tops Holloway
Dennis Laurente (36-3-5, 18 KOs) of the Philippines scored an eight-round unanimous over Rashad Holloway (11-2-1, 5 KOs) in welterweight bout. Laurente, a southpaw, aggressively pressed the action for the first six rounds bludgeoning Holloway with overhand lefts and right hooks. Holloway won the last two rounds as Laurente faded. Scores were 77-75, 79-73 and 78-74. (Peter Lim)