Pacquiao, Dallas, and more


I did not know what to expect as soon as I reached Fort Worth Airport in
Dallas. I have covered two Pacquiao fights in the past but for some reason
there was something about the Margarito fight that was different. I was a bit
more concerned knowing that this may be the biggest challenge Pacquiao would
ever face as a boxer.
I was going through the magazine stand at LAX and saw Manny Pacquiao on the
December issue of Ring Magazine. He was clearly the crowd favorite and
Margarito was to my mind quite unfairly being considered already a done deal.
Pacquiao was clearly expected to win this one. Even so, I was still worried
about the size advantage that Margarito was enjoying.

At the Hotel, I, together with the whole Philippine contingent of journalists, media
personnel, politicians and fans, was booked at the Gaylord Texan Hotel.
Although the hotel was already magnificently adorned with Xmas holiday décor
transforming it into a family destination, it was apparent that the buzz was
caused by the presence of the best boxer in the world.
The lobby was filled with fans at about 2 pm fight day as all were preparing to
get to the Dallas Cowboy’s Stadium which was a good 30 minute drive from the
hotel.

Dallas Cowboys Stadium
I have read about it and have seen pictures of it but just being able to enter
the venue was already a special thrill. Specially made for football, the venue
was naturally huge and they say could sit to close to 100,000 people. It was
the perfect place for a fight of this magnitude. They say that everything in
Texas is big, the stadium is no exception.
The boxers atop the ring will look like small toy figures if one sits at the
bleacher section. The 150 ft. LCD screen hanging from the rooftops solves all
that. The gigantic screen allows each spectator from both sides of the stadium
to see the fight up close. There was no excuse not to get involved in the
moment.
The Fight
By now everyone would have seen, read and talked about the David and Goliath
battle that happened this weekend. Manny Pacquiao secured his 8th world title
further entrenching himself as candidate to “best ever “ in boxing. He is now
seriously being identified to being better than Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray
Leonard and Oscar de la Hoya, a feat just less than 10 years ago no one would
ever think possible.
The demolition of Margarito was methodical to say the least. The smaller man
once again defied the laws of science by simply implementing a fight plan set 3
months prior. Leveraging as expected on his speed, the Filipino champion looked
more like a tornado than the Mexican.
An Impossible Feat Realized
Although the odds were in favor of Pacquiao, the preparation behind the
performance is seldom appreciated. This was by no means an easy fight. The
Filipino had to trust that his speed could cover the distance between him and
Margarito as set by the 5 inch height and 6 inch reach difference.
Early on in the first round, Pacquiao’s speed developed further by hours of
repetitive drills in the gym paid off. A left straight lead rocked Margarito in
the middle of the first round and immediately raised Pacquiao’s confidence.
The physical requirements to maintain a pace such as what Pacquiao established
is a product of God given talents, hardwork and attitude. His innate speed was
unleashed by the great work done by team Pacquiao to keep his weight at a level
by which he can be at his best. Short bursts of speed takes its toll on any
person and clearly stamina and strength played a key role for Pacquiao to stick
to the game plan.
Margarito was a real threat
Even if Margarito was beaten to a pulp, he was by no means an easy opponent. A
bigger fighter like Margarito can, with one punch steal the championship from
the favored Pacquiao. His size going into the fight was an advantage that
could be utilized any time and unlocked with a well timed combination.
Pacquiao was in his usual mood after basking in the glory of the win when he
walked inside the dugout. He was smiling while he was being iced down and was
still cracking jokes. As the minutes passed by and the mandatory urine tests
have been administered, Manny obliged us, the Solar Sports TV Panel with an
interview.
The best pound for pound fighter came out with a slightly different demeanor,
clearly beginning to feel the pain brought about, albeit few, by the punches
that Margarito connected with. He intimated that he was really hurting while the
welts on his face were beginning to manifest. He was a bit more deliberate in
his responses. Not many people truly appreciate the hardships a boxer has to go
through in a fight-win or lose.
Although Pacquiao knew by the second round that he had full control of the
fight and that Margarito could not match his speed, Margarito was not knocked
down. He was rocked several times and pushed back but he never hit the
canvass. It took an extraordinary number of punches to slow down and beat the
bulky Mexican. This was the hardest Pacquiao had to work for to win in the more
recent years.

The legend of Speed
I stayed an extra day so I could rest a bit and check out the city. I was
fortunate enough to meet several people close to team Margarito at the hotel
bar. It was revealed to me that the whole team was taken aback by the blinding
movements of the smaller fighter. There was no hint of doubt within their team
that Margarito was truly going to come out victorious.
The group was totally confident about Margarito’s game plan, but as history will
show, the speed by which Manny has built his reputation is truly
extraordinary. Margarito tried to pin him on the ropes but was never really
successful. Team Margarito planned but failed to successfully leverage on his
advantages.
Science coming into play- doing the impossible
Time and again the physics of size was a challenge during the whole fight. At
any point in time, one big punch from the bigger man could have changed the
course of the events.

Pacquiao and his team were all mindful of this and never allowed the Tornado to
execute any clean punch. The secret to Manny’s dominance is the fact that his
speed protects him from getting hit. This is why he is able to throw his
counter combinations the way he does.

Standing 5 inches smaller and 18 pounds lighter, Pacquiao needed to connect with
a lot of punches to really get Margarito in big trouble. It was only at the 7th
round that the welt on the latter’s face began to be a nuisance. Margarito’s
granite chin and relative size prevented him from hitting the canvass.
Pacquiao- a true ambassador
Dallas was still talking about the fight the day after. When people found out
that I am Filipino, it always ends up with a discussion about Manny Pacquiao.
Most would talk about his skills of speed and power. More than anything
however, Manny’s humility and kindness is beginning to shine through.

It was remarkable that aside from talking about Pacquiao as a pugilist, most of
those I talked to also appreciated him as a person. They talk about him with
fondness, appreciation and respect. This is a testament to the growing
influence this Filipino has on the world.
His giving attitude was also highlighted. Manny was described to be a person
who appreciates his past and has never turned his back on anyone who has asked
for his help. He, they say, sometimes do too much for others, but in the same
breath the article describes him as someone who genuinely wants to share his
blessings.
The in-flight magazine of the domestic flight I was on also had Pacquiao on the
cover described Manny as a humanitarian. A person whose exploits has
positively affected the sport of boxing and has infected many aspiring young men
and women into thinking that dedication and hardwork can lead to success.

Last leg back
Lining up for the long haul flight back home I found myself still hearing
stories about Pacquiao’s win as we were all lined up for the security check.
One could see the pride of each “kababayan” beam as they share their own stories
about the fight.
Every check in counter representative, every duty free shop personnel and every
cab driver who realized that I am Filipino all had good words for Manny. The
Philippines is blessed to have a Manny Pacquiao. I am thankful that I have met
the man. God bless him.

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