By Jeff Zimmerman
Photos: Stacey Verbeek/Maple Avenue Boxing Gym
A raucous crowd was on hand Tuesday at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Grapevine, Texas, to catch the last public workout of Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito leading up to their showdown this Saturday, November 13th at Cowboy Stadium. Both men displayed their skills in the ring with their respective trainers, Freddie Roach and Robert Garcia, by hitting the mitts, jump roping and genuinely showing their gratitude to the fans with smiles and laughter.
And although Manny mania is alive and well, Margarito mania may not be far behind as he showed he’s pretty popular even with all the controversy surrounding him, especially in a state like Texas with a large Hispanic fan base.
But only one person, that is Manny Pacquiao, could upstage what is chaos in Dallas Cowboy country with the recent firing of their head coach and only Pacquiao has the star power to draw the local sports media to a public workout, especially with the noticeable absence of Dallas Cowboy owner and co-promoter Jerry Jones. The buzz at the workout was slightly muted without Jones, as he is not only a big boxing fan but has been the biggest cheerleader in promoting these mega fights at his new stadium.
All was not lost however, as Hall of Fame Promoter Bob Arum was in attendance to greet fans and media. Arum believes Margarito has a fighting chance to knock off Pacquiao.
“He certainly has the tools to pull off an upset; I mean he’s the bigger stronger guy. The question is, can he cope with the phenomenal speed of Manny Pacquiao”, stated Arum.
Arum also believes Margarito poses as Pacquiao’s toughest fight to date and gives him a shot if the speed of Pacquiao doesn’t get him first.
“Manny will overwhelm him early on with his speed and the question can Manny maintain that speed over the 12 rounds because this guy doesn’t wear down, Margarito, and he throws a lot of punches and that’s going to tell the story”, added Arum.
Robert Garcia, the trainer of Margarito, continues to exude confidence and believes Margarito will expose Pacquiao on Saturday night.
“There are a lot of weaknesses and you guys will see the day of the fight”.
Garcia even went so far as to predict a late round stoppage.
“I would say the 11th (round). I guarantee, I guarantee, it’s our fight.”
Garcia believes Margarito is better than he was when he fought Cotto and Margarito agrees.
“I feel so and he could tell you the same thing. He feels better than when he beat Cotto, he feels better than when he won the title for the first time, so he’s in tremendous shape. “
Both fighters look in tremendous shape and come Saturday night a predicted crowd of 60,000 to 70,000 fans in Cowboy Stadium should witness a great battle. Let’s hope Jerry Jones is on hand, because without him, even with Pacquiao, something is missing.