Pacquiao set for tough year

(The Manila Times) If Manny ‘PacMan’ Pacquiao had his way, he wants to fight not just the best light-welterweights, like Ricky Hatton, whom he will challenge for the IBO title on May 2 in Las Vegas.

PacMan is willing to take on the big guys too, like the formidable Antonio Margarito, considered the best welterweight in the world today and known as the ‘Tijuana Tornado’.

Or even the undefeated former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., should he decide to come out of retirement.

Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum and many boxing experts find the idea of Margarito against Pacquiao absurd because of the physical disparity between the two fighters. Margarito, who is a Mexican, towers at 5ft 11ins while Pacquiao is half an inch below 5ft 7ins. But Manny thinks otherwise.

According to Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, not only does Manny want to fight Margarito in the future – he believes that he can outbox the Mexican warrior, Roach told boxing scribe Ron Borges of the Sweet Science, a leading boxing website.

Roach says Pacquiao is not bothered by Margarito’s physical advantages.

‘Manny wants to fight Margarito,’ said Roach, Pacquiao’s celebrated American trainer.

‘Manny thinks he can outbox him. Margarito is a big welterweight. He’d have a lot of advantages physically but Manny doesn’t really worry about that. I don’t know but he believes he can beat him.’

Margarito, presently the WBA welterweight champion, said that he would gladly accept a bout with Pacquiao if the fight was offered to him. Both Margarito and Pacquiao are promoted by Top Rank.

‘Pacquiao looked very good [against Oscar De La Hoya] and showed that he can fight against the better welterweights.

‘If he and the promoters agree, and want to do it, I will gladly do it,’ Margarito told El Nuevo Dia, a leading Mexican daily.

Boxing experts consider Margarito a bigger and stronger welterweight than De La Hoya, who Pacquiao demolished in eight rounds last month. Margarito, who knocked out unbeaten Puerto Rican ex-welterweight champion Miguel Cotto, has the build and the power of a middleweight and is currently considered the best welter out there.

Boxing experts also believe Mayweather and De La Hoya both avoided a clash with the iron-chinned Margarito. He has a record of 37-5 with 27 knockouts and has never been knocked out but dropped a close 12-round decision to Paul Williams, a three-division champion who stands 6ft 3ins.

Margarito will clash with ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, who once held world titles from three divisions, on January 24 in Los Angeles.

Roach, however, said he would rather take a Pacquiao-Mayweather super fight, if Pacman scores a convincing win over Hatton.

Mayweather, a slick boxer with great speed and tremendous boxing talent, is a tough opponent for everyone.

But Roach thinks Mayweather, 31, would be Pacquiao’s biggest fight in financial and fistic terms.

‘I think Manny is the only guy who can beat Mayweather,’ Roach said.

The Mayweather camp has been consistently saying their fighter can easily beat Pacquiao.