With accusations and counter accusations being traded by both camps immediately prior to the fight it was almost a relief when the opening bell finally sounded. Margarito had a considerable size and reach advantage and looked at least 15 lbs bigger than Pacquiao.
He used a stiff jab to good effect but the best work of the round came from the Filipino fighter who looked light on his feet and was getting in and out to good effect.
In the second round Pacquiao's superior speed started to make the difference as he landed a series of crisp combinations. Margarito appeared almost sluggish in comparison but was still able to back his opponent up with Pacquiao's punching power seemingly less effective than it had been in the lower weight classes.
Margarito looked even more lugubrious in round four as Pacquiao bounced around him, teeing off at will without ever wobbling the iron chinned Mexican.
Pacquiao was fighting at his natural walk around weight and could conceivably have fought at the same frenetic pace for the entire fight. Margarito, who had made a considerable weight cut, knew that a strong start was essential and he began round four on the front foot.
Pacquiao was forced to retreat but was still able to counter extremely effectively as the gulf in class between the two fighters started to become increasingly apparent. A couple of body shots appeared to bother the Mexican whose swollen up face told the story of the fight.
Margarito dug deep for a fifth round onslaught but Pacquiao came back guns blazing. The Filipino fighter was landing a cumulation of quick fire punches that repeatedly penetrated Margarito's high guard. The Mexican had absolutely no answer except to keep plodding forward in the midst of incessant punishment.
Pacquiao made a slow start to round six and for the first time in the fight Margarito began to come on strong. For the first time in the fight Pacquiao did not look in complete control although whether the Mexican actually did enough to win the round is debatable.
Margarito was unable to build on what little momentum he might have had as Pacquiao continued to pepper him with punches in round seven, amassing a potentially unassailable lead on the scorecards in the process.
Pacquiao appeared to play a bit of possum in round eight, allowing Margarito to trap him against the ropes before circling out and landing yet another devastating combination.
The pace dropped noticeably in round nine as Pacquiao seemed more intent on evading Margarito, although a couple of brief flurries were probably enough to win the round for the Filipino. Margarito does not know the meaning of the word retreat but he was beginning to look desperately short of ideas by this stage.
After taking a bit of a breather in the ninth Pacquiao turned on the style in round 10 and repeatedly rocked Margarito who was looking decidedly unsteady on his feet. The humane thing to do at this stage would have been to stop the fight but instead the Mexicans corner sent him out to take another two rounds of totally unnecessary punishment
By round 11 Pacquiao's punches were being punctuated by looks of serious concern towards the referee, Laurence Cole, by the Filipino fighter. He was clearly uncomfortable with the amount of damage he was being allowed to inflict upon his hapless opponent. Cole did pause the fight to take a quick look at the swelling on both sides of Margarito's face, which must surely have been impairing his vision, but chose not to halt the painfully one sided contest.
It was clear that Pacquiao did not have the necessary power to finish the fight with a single shot but he had done more than enough to justify a stoppage. Unfortunately the referee, perhaps overwhelmed by the sense of occasion did not do his job. Margarito's corner deserve to take their share of the blame. Mexican machismo is one thing but allowing your fighter to risk serious long term injury is another.
Fortunately Pacquiao decided to spare Margarito from too much further punishment in the final round. Unsurprisingly the Filipino fighter was awarded a landslide decision, winning a world title in a record eighth weight class in the process.
This was a brutally dominant performance against a much bigger opponent which cemented Pacquiao's status as the number one pound for pound fighter on the planet. It was slightly soured by an inept performance from referee Laurence Cole.
Boxing fans are not sadists and, as Pacquiao's visible concern for his opponent's wellbeing clearly demonstrated, neither are boxers. Once a fight has been emphatically won it should be stopped and questions must be asked as to why this one wasn't.
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