By Tony Mangia
While Manny Pacquiao prepares for this year's biggest fight--basically carrying the rating-starved sport of boxing on his sinewy shoulders and, if you believe his mother, and the unconfirmed rumors that have dogged the world champion since his last fight--this will be Pacquiao's last bout.
A Youtube video shows Pac-man's mom, Dionesa Pacquiao, making it clear through an interpreter or that she will be ringside at her son's WBA fight Saturday night on the condition it is his final boxing match. Now what mother hasn't said that before and what son didn't listen. It's a standard plot which dates back to boxing films of the '30's.
Rumors of Pacquiao's 'retirement' have swirled incessantly around the Filipino since he defeated Joshua Clottey in a one-sided decision last May. Pacquiao was elected congressman in the Philippines House of Representatives after the fight which fueled more talk of his permanent exit from the ring.
Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, has admitted his fighter's political responsibilities have taken a piece of the world champion"s training routine. Now his mom has thrown a towel into the ring.
His mom's attendance at this fight will be the first time she has seen her boy inside the ropes. The religious woman said she doesn't go to his fights but always prays "he will win." She knows her support is important to her son.
If this is Pacquiao's last fight, it could be a classic. He is facing a devastating puncher in Margarito (38-6, 27 KOs) a boxing pariah who is fighting in the U.S. since being suspended for using illegally-loaded hand wraps in an upset loss against Shane Mosley last year. The lanky Margarito is sure to test the champ's chin even without the plaster-of-paris padding. In 2005, the Mexican fighter literally ripped Sabastian Lujan's ear in half and later beat Miguel Cotto into a bloated pulp.
Many fans have called for the lifetime ban of Margarito for his corner's dangerous and disgusting stunt. His camp denies the allegations and claim the 'confiscated, saved and analyzed wraps' were legal and blown out of proportion.
Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs) will have his hands full and his belly empty. He believes his speed was being compromised by going up in weight classes and has opted for being lighter and quicker against Margarito. On fight night Pacquiao could be 20 pounds lighter than his opponent. Even Roach is concerned about Pac's lack of bulk, but has faith in his fighter. "He has been doing this a long time," the trainer said,"He knows what he is doing."
While California wouldn't allow the fight, Texas welcomed the bout with open arms and without a hearing. Top Rank (which represents both fighters) put the fight together after "The Fight of the Decade" with Floyd Mayweather didn't pan out.
Pacquiao is arguably the best-known fighter in the world but Mayweather has the undefeated record and is the only fighter in his class with the box office clout as Pacquiao. The flamboyant "Money" has continually made excuses for not fighting Pac-man. Meanwhile, Mayweather has a laundry list of domestic and criminal charges to contend with and was a recent no-show at his arraignment in Las Vegas. Mayweather is equally adept at avoiding the ring as well as the court.
So the biggest fight of the year pits the people's champion against the cheater. Margarito has a huge following in Mexico, where legions of fans turned up in support of his last fight in May. This will be his return to U.S. boxing and his biggest payday. As a thank you to the Pacquiao camp his trainers recently released a vulgar video spoofing Freddie Roach's Parkinson's affliction and stutter. Margarito may have risen above the cesspool of his California license revocation but he still stinks.
Margarito might picture himself as Zorro in silk shorts repaying Pacquiao for his well-publicized dismantling of South-of-the-Border fighters like Eric Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera among others. He should draw a sizable home-crowd advantage in Arlington, Texas.
Mayweather has picked his nemesis Pacquiao to win. In an interview with Fight Hype, he said," I'm going to tell you the truth. It doesn't matter if he (Margarito) lay down or not--Pacquiao will still whoop his ass."
Mayweather's dad, Roger, chimed in and boasted his son was still better than the Filipino politician. Sorry Mama Pacquiao, maybe there's still one more fight on the congressman's agenda.