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Predictions – Antonio Margarito Vs. Manny Pacquiao

Antonio Margarito should thank Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach, and most importantly, Bob Arum for giving him the chance to make money again. If Margarito would’ve never fought again after getting caught with illegal hand wraps, I’m not sure many people would’ve cared. Even though he’s in one of the biggest fights of the year, he isn’t relevant. It’s all because of Manny.

Manny Pacquiao is the biggest boxing star since Oscar De La Hoya. As much as I think Floyd Mayweather is the guy who could be Pacquiao’s krytonite, he’s not at Manny’s level of stardom right now. Floyd may be a great draw on PPV, but there’s no way he’d be able to draw 70,000 people to Cowboys Stadium, unless he was fighting Pacquiao.

But as Pacquiao’s star shines brighter than ever, there’s a darkness to this fight. Most big boxing fans don’t really want to see the fight because they don’t think Margarito should even sniff a chance that very few boxers ever get. Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach may say in interviews that they think Margarito deserves another chance, but the main reason they made the fight is because it was the best money fight they could make at the time. They don’t really care about Margarito’s career.

The only reason people are interested in this fight is because they don’t want to miss Manny. When you have a boxer like this at the top of his game, you want to see it all because you know that one day he won’t be fighting anymore. One of my favorite sports writers, Tim Kawakami who once wrote a biography on Oscar De La Hoya, didn’t even want to make a prediction for this fight. He’s simply not interested in the fight because he doesn’t think Margarito deserves any of what he’s been given.

But I was still able to get predictions from writers around the boxing world and blogosphere.

Here is the panel:

Kevin Iole – Kevin writes for Yahoo! Sports and is one of the few writers who writes as equally well about boxing as he does about MMA. Read him by clicking his Yahoo! Sports profile. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @KevinI as well.
Tim Starks – Tim writes my favorite boxing blog on the earth, The Queensberry Rules and has already written a ton about this fight. Go read it all.
Jake Emen – Jake is the managing editor at Pro Boxing Fans and you can follow his great group of writers on Facebook as well.
Robert Lashley – Robert (aka Brotherman) is a writer for Fight Game Blog.
Duan Greally – Duan is a writer for Fight Game Blog.
GG – That would be me, editor of Fight Game Blog.

Kevin Iole – Pacquiao by decision

His speed and quickness are far too much for Margarito. If Pacquiao avoids the corners and laying on the ropes, I think it’s an easy fight for him. He’ll be able to cut Margarito up and probably close his eyes.

But if he goes to the ropes to see what Margarito has like he did against Cotto, it’s a mistake. Margarito has a great chin and is going to be there and just keep coming. If he has a spot where he’s able to pin Pacquiao down, it’s to his advantage.

I see Pacquiao by a wide decision or perhaps even a late stoppage if Margarito can’t see.

Tim Starks – Pacquiao by 8th round TKO

I’m more looking forward to Sunday than Saturday. This fight doesn’t appeal to me, competitively or morally. To focus on the competitive elements, Pacquiao is the #1 fighter in the world, and he’s tons faster than the man who knocked Margarito out, Shane Mosley. Margarito isn’t just slow, he’s as slow as an elite fighter gets, at least back when he was an elite fighter. Margarito’s size could present trouble, Pacquiao’s poor training camp could hurt him and Margarito could turn out to be his old self and I’m still not sure that’s enough for Margarito to beat Pacquiao. If Freddie Roach says the knockout will happen between rounds one and eight, then it will. Assuming the size differential and Margarito’s historically good chin, I’ll say it’s more likely to land on the back end of that chart.

Jake Emen – Pacquiao by decision

The rumors have been swirling that Pacquiao has been distracted, hasn’t had a great training camp, and is too focused on politics to be focused on his in the ring performance. For a fight that needed a promotional boost, that’s exactly what I take those rumors to be.

Make no mistake, Margarito is determined, he’s strong, and he wants to make a statement. But he’s also way too slow to avoid Pacquiao’s offensive arsenal. If he pins Pacquiao against the ropes and puts in some good body work early, he may have a chance. But Pacquiao isn’t going to let his top dog status slip away just yet.

Robert Lashley – Pacquiao by decision

Pacquiao, but the string of magical performances stop here. His training, at best, has been erratic. His entourage, at 200, is 4 times that of the Ali circus. His remade style, of a masterful whirling dervish, will not serve him well when he loses a step. Margarito, however, is in no mental shape to beat him. Without his magic glove padding he will have trouble with the obvious speed advantage Manny has. Pacquiao will coast, but not look as breathtaking in doing it as he has done in the past.

Duan Greally – Pacquiao by TKO (5th-7th round)

Margarito has always had two things going for him; a punch and a chin. In the aftermath of the wraps controversy questions over his power still linger. But what about his chin? This is a guy who got absolutely destroyed by Shane Mosley. We have seen in the past with these super durable guys that once they do get knocked out they are never quite the same. Was that night against Mosley an aberration – perhaps the result of his mind being on more pressing concerns – or has the Tijuana Tornado’s chin been cracked? I think that is the most telling question here.

If Margarito can walk through Pacquiao the way he has done opponents in the past then all of a sudden this becomes a really interesting fight. I just can’t see it happening. Pacquiao does have the power to hurt him and the speed and technique to outclass him.

For a boxer, the place to redeem himself is inside the ring. Margarito really wants this. And for what it’s worth, I think we will see Antonio Margarito at his honest best come Saturday night. I just don’t think it’s enough.

GG – Pacquiao by 10th round TKO

If Manny Pacquiao wasn’t the star that he is, I would’ve skipped this fight. I don’t think Margarito is worthy of the shot, nor do I think he should even be fighting right now. But because of Manny, this is must-watch. I’m going to guess that Margarito gets his comeuppance and Pacquiao’s stardom grows as he beats up the bully. I think it’s going to take a few rounds for Pacquiao to get in gear, both because of his lack of focus early on in his training and because Margarito is just a beast of a man compared to anyone else he’s ever fought. But like he always does, I think he, or should I say, his style, figures Margarito out quickly. Margarito comes forward and he wants to push Pacquiao backwards. But Pacquiao’s going to be in and out, side to side, and I think Margarito physically quits before catching him.

There you have it. No one thinks Margarito will win the fight. Check back here tomorrow night as we’ll have live play by play.

Thanks to everyone on our panel for their prediction and we’ll be back here Saturday night covering the big fight.

Photo of Manny Pacquiao shared via Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.