Pacquiao Fight: We're Ringside - With Video

ARLINGTON -- From the moment you arrived at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday night, the weight of legacy saturated the air. For one man, Manny Pacquiao, it was a chance to push his status even further into the pantheon of legends. For the other, Antonio Margarito, there was the hope to wash away the scrapes of a bruised reputation, the hope for redemption.

In the end, it was Pacquiao who continued his ascent into greatness. He was so dominant in winning a 12-round unanimous decision that he "let up" in the final round, taking mercy on an opponent almost five inches taller, with more than six inches of additional reach, and what may have amounted to a weight advantage of almost 20 pounds.

Though Margarito weighed-in nearly five pounds heavier than Pacquiao's 144.6, at precisely the catch weight of 150, according to the HBO unofficial scale he entered the ring at 165 pounds to Pacquiao's 148.

<a href="" target="_new" title="Highlights: Pacquiao - Margarito">Video: Highlights: Pacquiao - Margarito</a>

As Pacquiao would later say, "I wanted the referee to stop it. In the 12th round I was just looking to get through the fight. I eased up on him. I told the referee, 'Look at his eyes.' I didn't want to damage him permanently. That's not what boxing is about."

Before a crowd of 41,734 in the building Michael Buffer announced as the "eighth wonder of the world," Pacquiao accomplished what no other boxer has been able to do. He captured a championship in a record-extending eighth weight class.

From the start, this was a classic duel of speed versus strength, and from the opening bell speed displayed its dominance.

Early in the fight, Pacquiao bloodied Margarito with a deep cut below his right eye that quickly began to swell, leaving the "Tijuana Tornado" blinded on his right side … and you haven't seen a cut until you've seen it displayed on the Cowboys Stadium mega-monitor suspended high above the ring.

Some had questioned the sturdiness of Margarito's chin after his knockout loss to Shane Mosely, but against Pacquiao he proved its sturdiness, taking a battery of assaults to his face, particularly the right eye, which became so swollen referee Laurence Cole stopped the fight multiple times to verify Margarito could still see. Beaten to a gnarled tangle of swollen bruises and blood, but refusing to go down, or throw in the towel, Margarito continued to fight.

In doing so, he did manage to hurt Pacquiao with multiple body shots that visibly shook the champion. As Pacquiao would admit after the fight, "I got hurt. He hurt me in the belly and in the face."

But PacMan's speed proved to be just too much to overcome.

When asked in the ring after the bout by HBO's Max Kellerman if he ever considered giving up, Margarito declared boldly, "There was no way I was going to quit. I'm a Mexican. We fight until the end."

He also admitted that things "were going good until I got cut."

Robert Garcia, Margarito's trainer, echoed his refusal to give up when asked if he ever considered throwing in the towel on his own. "He'd never allow me to do that," he said.

Garcia later complimented the victorious Pacquiao. "He's the best fighter in the world," he said. "He's just too fast. We couldn't get him into the ropes to hit him with clean shots."

While the debate may rage on over the title of best pound-for-pound fighter in the world (care to enter an argument for Floyd Mayweather Jr.?), there is no denying that Pacquiao has solidified his placement among the all-time greats.

For perspective, the closest fighter to match his championships across eight weight classes, Oscar De La Hoya, held six … and saw his career ended in December 2008 by the same man who so thoroughly dispatched Margarito on this night.

What Pacquiao has accomplished is unprecedented. And this doesn't even take into account his pursuits outside of the ring, which include singing a duet with Will Ferrell of the John Lennon song "Imagine" on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show, and his recent landslide election to congress in the Republic of the Philippines.

Then you begin to build beyond the scope of athletic legacy, and into mythology.

From taking his first major title in the 112-pound flyweight division in 1998 from Chatchai Sasakul in the eighth round, to setting aside De La Hoya's place in the record books with a title in weight class No. 7 over Miguel Cotto almost a year ago, the man some call "The Destroyer" has done just that.

Against all reasonable odds, and matching the speed he's continually shown in the ring, he's climbed through the weight classes and left his thrashing mark on each from flyweight to now super welterweight. Fighting at more than 30 pounds above where he earned his first belt, he's proven that pure speed, heart, humility and guile can overcome the might of size.

Freddie Roach, the excellent and well-respected trainer standing in Pacquiao's corner, must receive his due as well. He shares some of the credit for consistently true plans of attack that have flown through the ring behind Manny's incredible speed, and aided in the continuous flow of victories.

The odds must profess that there are no more weight classes to be conquered, though it's hard to embrace the laws of probability with a man who's so thoroughly crushed them all.

As far as legacy goes, is eight enough? Where the road leads from here, regardless of what turns may lie ahead, one thing is clear: Manny Pacquiao will be remembered as one of the greatest of his time.

Even clearer than his standing in history is the fact that fans know exactly where they believe that road should head next: Mayweather.

If Mayweather harbored any possible hesitation toward satiating this desire, the dominant display Pacquiao showcased Saturday night against a bigger, stronger and much heavier opponent could only have amplified it.

Whatever issues remain from the squabbles over blood-testing between the two fighters must be set aside, and the only matchup around right now capable of pulling down the black curtains hiding the highest seats in Cowboys Stadium (as they did for the Margarito bout), and filling its belly with 100,000 frenzied fans must come to be. Outside of Mayweather's legal battles, the excuses have dried up.

It's the matchup we all want. It may be the last of the super fights. If it isn't to be, why should Pacquiao continue to put his future health at risk as he continues to rise through the weight classes if the optimal opponent refused to fight him?

For the sake of boxing, it must happen.


* Practice makes perfect. From Nelly performing, to the Cowboy Cheerleaders, to the full breadth of the spectacle, this fight acted as a great warm-up, and perhaps a glimpse into what Jerry Jones has planned for the Super Bowl.

* In 2010, Pacquiao now has two victories in Cowboys Stadium … which puts him two victories ahead of this year's Cowboys squad in their own stadium.

* In the hours before the fight, the crowd was clearly leaning in Pacquiao's favor. By fight time, the tide had turned and cheers pulsed to a raging roar at the slightest glimpse of Margarito. From "Mexico" to "You can do it" chants, to a superior number of Mexican flags on display, those supporting Margarito seemed to easily outnumber those supporting Pacquiao.

* There was spectacle, there was history, and ringside, there was Jerry Jones.

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