'Left-Hook Lounge': Vivek Wallace's Mailbag feat. Pacquiao/Margarito, Mayweather, Garcia, and more!
Alen C. (Los Angeles, CA): Manny Pacquiao recently stated that he will "go for the early KO" against Margarito. Do you think this is a good strategy?
Article posted on 25.10.2010
Vivek W. (ESB): No!......That's my short answer. To elaborate a little, Pacquiao is almost the same size as Cotto, just a somewhat thinner version. Pacquiao's speed will be his key to success, but where things will vary for him quite a bit from the Cotto scenario is that Cotto actually gave a concerted effort to box, using head movement, blocking techniques, etc. Many will say that Margarito has used his chin as his defense in the past, but when you break down the fundamental skills of Manny Pacquiao, the one consistent flaw in his game (if you can find any) is that he can be hit very easily and uses very little defense, too.. Many speak about Pacquiao's footwork, but few note that the true marvel of his 'awesome' footwork comes primarily on the offensive end. Defensively, he can be hit, and has ALWAYS been susceptible to the uppercut and practically any variation of the right hand, be it the cross, jab, the uppercut, and beyond. I don't think it's a good idea for Pacquiao to come out aggressive for two reasons:
First and foremost, as noted in my recent YouTube promotional vid for the fight, Margarito is the all-time compubox punch record holder for punches in a 12 round fight; a tally of 1,675 punches, equal to 139 per round on average. That type of work rate is what one could expect here, or something very similar. That being said, if Pacquiao starts aggressive and fails to land the early KO, (which wouldn't be a surprise), this type of workrate could make it very difficult for Pacquiao to sustain his patented energy level over the course of the fight. Picking spots and taking his time is what made Cotto effective early against Margarito. He didn't sustain true damage until later in the fight when he began to trade and get caught - which led to him getting walked down. We saw the damage that Clottey did to Pacquiao after barely landing 100 punches. Pacquiao is a warrior, but he won't old up for 12 rounds if he's taking that type of punishment the whole fight.
Secondly, we continue to talk about the physical disadvantages between the two for one reason.......they're real! When you look at the tale of the tape between these two men, the reach (Pacqiuao 67in. - Margarito 73in.) and height (Pacqiuao 5'6" 1/2 - Margarito 5'11") show you exactly how dangerous this fight can be. Simple logic tells us that if both men are throwing.....lets say.....60 punches per round, and the one man who isn't a very good inside-fighter (Pacquiao) is forced to try to get inside just to land his own shots, at some point, it will all take a toll. Pacquiao has proven inconsistent results with the uppercut and body shots throughout his illustrious career. That just happens to be Margarito's playground. If you watch the final 10 seconds of his second Marquez fight, it is very plain to see what happens when Pacquiao lunges in against someone who will eat a couple shots and continue to throw rather than retreat. A few more seconds and a more aggressive fighter and no question, he would have suffered a knockdown at the very least. So all of these things are relative. If Pacquiao knows what's best, he'll adapt a little Mayweather in his style this time around and stick and move. I know he's known for excitement, but watching him stick-and-move can't be any worst than what we watched with him against Clottey. A win is a win is a win!
Cameron H. (San Francisco, CA): A little while back you spoke about Margarito using better fundamentals under Garcia than he had before. What specifically led you to believe he's a changed fighter?
Vivek W. (ESB): If you take a look back at Margarito's last fight against Roberto Garcia, the one thing that I noted almost instantaneously was his increased head movement. Aside from that, his footwork and punch selection was more measured. Although his workrate wasn't as busy as we've seen, you have to remember that this was their first fight camp together, so Margarito was probably doing more thinking than executing, as he was attempting to remove the habits formed years prior. I have very little knowledge about the past history of new trainer Robert Garcia, but for sure, he seems to have a very good grip on sound fundamentals. This could be seen in a recent HBO 24/7 clip where a solid fundamental instruction given from Garcia to Margarito regarding how to punch in rapid fire, yet not to lean in too much, as it weakens the base of the legs allowing an opponent to knock you down easier if they fire back unexpectedly. This simple fundamental understanding would have potentially earned Juan Manuel Marquez a victory, as each of his three knockdowns at the hands of Pacquiao (first fight) were the result of poor balance mechanics.
Another example of this could be found in Garcia's steady dose of pressure, as it relates to making Margarito focus on combinations and backing Pacquiao up. This tells me that he's well studied on Pacquiao, as years of breaking down his fight footage has always led me to believe the key to defeating him would be realizing that whether he's throwing punches or not, when the opponent throws back, like clock work, Pacquiao stops his assault and backs up in a straight line. If the ropes are there, he'll touch them, and if the corner is there, you can literally trap him. These things all point to a very measured approach, sharpened by many hours of film study. You have to love that approach. If the head movement and consistent jab that Garcia tried to teach Margarito the last fight camp is combined properly with this next phase of training, he could be a very dangerous opponent for Pacquiao. Disregard the illegal padding , because Margarito was never a power puncher. What makes him great is the fact that he has the punch rate to out work you, and the chin to outlast you. If he does pull this off, in my book, he has Garcia to thank for restoring his career, as these tips are worth his weight in gold, and Garcia will undoubtedly be the silver-lining.
Alex R. (London, UK): I was able to see the HBO 24/7 on YouTube and I noticed a part where Michael Koncz confirmed what you said many months ago, which was that Pacquiao never agreed to full randomized testing as he and his team led the public to believe. They agreed to a 7 day cut-off which Mayweather wouldn't accept. I remember the flack you took for saying this and wanted to ask how do you feel about this revelation, and how do you think this deceit will affect Pacquiao's legacy?
Vivek W. (ESB): This revelation was an interesting one to say the least. As I think back to all of the numerous debates and perspectives thrown back and forth, it was a tough thing for me to continue to receive major criticism, even death threats, stemming from something that I always knew to be the absolute truth. There was a point where quite a few disgruntled fight fans contacted me and spoke their mind on a daily basis, all alleging that I was somehow conspiring to hurt Pacquiao's name and "bring him down", and that was a bit painful, because I've always considered myself a fan. As a journalist who values integrity and honors his word, I've always said that "I'd rather be hated for being honest than loved for lying"! Speaking the truth is my sole agenda every time I publish an article, and that doesn't allow room for discrimination, regardless of whom that topic may address. I'm under the impression that plenty of my contemporaries around the world knew this to be truth also, but there were only a few of us willing to put ourselves on the line and actually print this. It's no secret, I'm not some ESPN scribe, or some established CNNSI scribe, but operating from a lesser budget doesn't mean that I will EVER allow myself to put out a lesser qualified product.
As a devoted scribe, when I'm up at 3am in the morning speaking to someone in the Philippines who serves as an indirect source, or haven't eaten all day, yet remain on the phone with persistence to track down good sources and leads, it's all a done for the purpose of identifying the best possible information to report, and knowing that there's a level of accuracy behind that report. When you do your due diligence and you know what you have revealed is truth, there's no reason to let the antics and insults bother you, because the truth is absolute and indisputable. So, to answer that part of your question, it bothered me in a sense, but as always, the truth will find an appropriate way and a time to surface. Always! As far as his legacy goes, I think you have to judge him by what he does in the ring. The whole steroid stuff is speculation that is unconfirmed. Until it comes out and someone has tangible proof, there's not much to believe there. In Pacquiao's defense, I never heard him say that he agreed to all request. I heard Roach, Koncz, and others say it, but never Pacquiao. So if there's a level of deceit to be taken into consideration, pin it on the "businessmen" of the group.....not him.
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEKWALLACE747), FaceBook and Myspace.
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