ARLINGTON, TX The turmoil began when both sides levied accusations. In a twist of irony, the Margarito camp thought Pacquiao’s handwraps looked suspicious and lobbied the Texas commission to have them re-wrapped (which they did).
On the other side, the Pacquiao camp was up in arms about Margarito’s desire to take Hydroxycut before the fight, a supplement that contained ephedra as late as 2004. Eventually, the commission ruled that because the version in question did not contain the banned substance, that Margarito had the green light to take it. The Mexican purportedly opted for a caffeine boost from coffee instead.
“As I understand it, Freddie had a friend of his, Billy Keane, in Margarito’s dressing room,” said Arum.
Once both situations were resolved, both fighters entered the ring to a raucous amalgam of eardrum-exploding music and rabid pandemonium from the fans.
In the first round, Manny, in white trunks with gold trim, eschewed his bicycle and stood in the middle of the ring. While Pacquiao threw left crosses to the body and peppered Margarito with jabs, the Mexican was inactive by comparison. The round went to the “Pac-Man” as the sizable contingent of Margarito supporters yelled, “Me-xi-co! Me-xi-co!” to conclude the round.
The second frame began at a furious pace . Margarito began to use his jab effectively and looked for an opening on the inside. Pacquiao landed a four-punch combination that found its target. After a fracas that almost resulted in a clash of heads, the cheers turned to murmurs when Margarito walked Pacquiao down into a neutral corner, but could not capitalize.
Like an ace pitcher varying his speeds, Pacquiao started the third by throwing another double one-two, this time landing a left uppercut instead of a cross to complete the salvo. Margarito once again took Pacquiao to a neutral corner, and this time, was moderately successful, throwing a flurry that had the Filipino bending into the ropes. But it was only temporary, as the “Pac-Man” answered by throwing another four-punch flood, this time one that ended with a shot to the liver of Margarito. Pacquiao, now on his toes and bouncing, seemed to communicate to Margarito that he would be hard to locate all night.
Round four saw Margarito walking in with a high guard, and Pacquiao was more than willing to looking for vulnerabilities in his enemy’s armor. He found them, as a crippling body shot to the abdomen had Margarito hunching over and ready to go. Even worse, a gigantic mouse under the Mexican’s right eye closed it shut, the result of a Pacquiao left cross. Fending him off with his jab and circling to his left, Margarito looked to regroup. He did so before the bell.
Margarito then went to work in round five, pushing Pacquiao on the ropes and landing a big right uppercut. But the contact only urged Pacquiao on, and he quickly spun out of trouble to unleash an attack of his own to the head and body. It seemed that Pacquiao sensed his opponent’s susceptibility to hooks and was more willing to take risk, throwing multiple right hooks without fear of retribution. However, Margarito shouldered on, continuing to come forward behind the fundamentals of a one-two. To close the round, as is usually the case between a southpaw and an orthodox fighter, an accidental headbutt occurred.
In round six, a cat and mouse game ensued, with Margarito chasing the Filipino around the ring. Although the pace had seemingly slowed, Margarito wouldn’t let Pacquiao take the frame off, as the Mexican would slug the Filipino with a series of punches highlighted by four shots to the body, two with each hand. As the “Pac-Man” took a brief squat, Margarito was finally able to put him on the defensive, arguably taking the round without putting Pacquiao down.
A little humor began the seventh as Pacquiao demonstrated his version of the Ali Shuffle to Margarito. The Mexican was not amused, and engaged the Filipino into some warfare in the pocket. With neither fighter a clear-cut winner in the exchange, they gave each other distance and resumed battle. With both fighters’ guards up, Pacquiao threw a right jab and left uppercut that found a home on Margarito’s jaw, the most memorable punch to take the round.
Round eight offered Margarito a time to shine. He bullied Pacquiao into the ropes and had the “Pac-Man” countering on three separate occasions. The question became whether the punches he landed would have a lasting effect on his smaller opponent. Again, they did not, and using his pivots to perfection, the Filipino avoided the brunt of the attack.
A rejuvenated Mexican crowd screaming “Si se puede!” Their fighter met the bell for round nine. He went on the offensive and tried to jab his way into Pacquiao’s chest. But inexplicably, the recipe for success in the previous round in attacking the Filipino’s midsection had been abandoned for most of the round. When he finally did come back with a right hook flush to the temple of Margarito. Almost as if to prove himself worthy of the pay-per-view event, refused to take a knee and kept swinging for the fences.
The tenth started with referee Laurence Cole examining Margarito’s right eye and finding that he was fit to continue. On Cole’s signal, the two combatants returned to war. Margarito, reduced to a fighting Cyclops, was slowing down like a machine sans oil. The Filipino portion of the crowd was vocal enough to overcome the cheers for Margarito. “Manny! Manny!” they shouted. Pacquiao now attempted to fluster the Mexican with his movement, darting side-to-side and throwing double left hooks among the variety of punches in his arsenal. Pacquiao then caught Margarito walking in with a screaming right hook that had his opponent dancing before the bell.
The topic of discussion in the eleventh became whether Margarito would make it to the finish line. Pacquiao tried to make that response a negative one when he landed an unanswered four-punch assault upstairs. With a visibly staggered Margarito, Pacquiao subsequently appealed to Cole and through a gesture, implored him to stop the fight,. Cole refused, and Pacquiao endeavored to end the fight with his fists. But again, despite his best efforts, Margarito would not concede the day for anyone, much less the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
The final round was anticlimactic, as both fighters boxed at a pace fitting for the beginning of the fight. Margarito fearlessly continued to stand toe-to-toe, looking for one last miracle. Unfortunately, Pacquiao wouldn’t give him a shot to make history, and the final bell put an end to another historic night for the Filipino congressman.