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Pacquiao vs. Margarito

Like most media and casual observers of the Sweet Science, I’m going with the favorite to win this one.  Unlike those same media and casual observers, however, I think Manny Pacquiao actually has to work hard for a victory.  I don’t think November 13 is going to be as easy a night as has previously been the case.

There are two stark differences between Antonio Margarito and Pacquiao’s recent opponents.  The first is that most of Manny’s previous opponents (including Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, etc.) gave Manny a lot of respect after tasting just a few of his punches.  In other words, they would become hesitant to throw for fear of taking punishment in return.  In Cotto’s case, his punch output gradually declined and by the halfway point he was retreating constantly.  In Clottey’s case, as we are painfully aware, he decided to shell up for the entire fight.  Margarito will not do this.  Tony has never shown respect for another fighter’s power, and I don’t think he ever will.  Against Cotto, he kept storming forward even after tasting some of Cotto’s best stuff.  Against Shane Mosley, even after getting rocked by huge right-hands, Tony continued to plod forward.  Unlike Manny’s previous opponents, Tony isn’t afraid to take a punch (if not two or three), to get in his own punches.

The second difference is that Margarito is the first classic pressure fighter that Manny has faced in recent times.  Sure you can make arguments that Ricky Hatton was an inside pressure fighter, but Ricky didn’t really have the volume that defines a true pressure fighter.  Margarito has the CompuBox record for most punches thrown in a fight!  Tony threw 1675 punches when he fought Clottey.  That comes out to around 140 punches a round.  140 punches a round!  Contrast this with the punch statistics in the Mosley vs. Floyd Mayweather bout.  Mayweather threw an average of only 40 punches a round on route to winning that bout.  OK fine, everyone knows Floyd doesn’t throw that many punches.  Then use this for additional comparison: The average punches thrown per round at the welterweight and junior middleweight limits are around 58-59 punches.

Ever the contrarian, Teddy Atlas recently pointed out that Manny was really marked up by Clottey at the end of their bout.  He stresses that Clottey barely threw any punches, yet Manny’s eye was extremely swollen by the twelfth round.  If Clottey could throw a negligible amount of punches and do damage, what can a bigger fighter in Margarito do by throwing a significantly higher volume of punches?

Regardless, I believe that skills, speed, and angles will carry the day here.  Remember, skills pay the bills and speed kills.  Pacquiao will win, most likely by decision.  Manny’s footspeed will keep him out of most of the danger, although I expect some tense exchanges during the occasions when Tony is able to catch up.  I will not predict stoppage here, although it isn’t completely out of the question.  Ironically, arguably the greatest factor that endears Manny to many boxing fans (his willingness to put on a show and exchange) could potentially make the fighter closer than it has to be. 

The pick is Pacquiao, slipping and sliding, sticking and moving to a win.

Prediction confidence level: 90%

What do you guys think?

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