MANILA, Philippines - There’s no doubt in Manny Pacquiao’s assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez’ mind that Antonio Margarito will go down like Ricky Hatton when the Mexican warrior faces the Filipino icon for the vacant WBC superwelterweight title at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Nov. 13.
“I’m not worried at all,” said Fernandez. “I’m not nervous. Once Margarito feels Manny’s power, it will just be a matter of time. He’s going out like Hatton. Margarito is slow and doesn’t know how to cut the ring off. Manny’s stronger than ever. He wants to knock out Margarito early. He’s been talking about it, how he’ll bring him down. I can see it now – Manny knocking out Margarito with a left hook then (chuckling) getting a cash advance for his next fight.”
Fernandez, 35, has seen Pacquiao metamorphose from a 106-pound rookie in 1995 to the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter today, the only man ever to win seven championships in seven weight divisions. If Pacquiao disposes of Margarito, he will annex his eighth world crown in as many classes.
“Manny’s at his peak,” said Fernandez who grew up with Pacquiao in General Santos City. “He’s not showing any signs of slowing down. I don’t think he’s retiring soon. The way I see it, Manny will keep on fighting even when he becomes a senator. As a Congressman, he hasn’t changed. He trains even harder in the gym, realizing the high expectations of the fans. Others change after winning the championship, they’re no longer hungry, they get lazy. Not Manny.”
Fernandez said Pacquiao, a southpaw, has already figured out with chief trainer Freddie Roach how to break down the right-handed Tijuana Tornado.
“Margarito likes to throw the left jab then an uppercut to the body and finally, a straight – that’s his usual combination,” said Fernandez. “Manny will fight him like Oscar de la Hoya and a bit like how he fought Miguel Cotto and Hatton. His main weapon will be the left hand. When Margarito throws the jab, Manny will slide to his right and counter with a left to the body or to the head. Margarito has a tendency to bring down his hands after throwing a jab. He’ll be wide open for Manny’s left – just like Hatton was.”
Fernandez said Margarito’s 4 1/2-inch height advantage won’t make a difference.
“Manny finds it easier to hit a taller opponent like a De la Hoya,” said Fernandez. “He finds it harder to connect on a fighter who’s either his size or a little shorter. Juan Manuel Marquez knew that. You remember when he fought Manny, he bent his head down so he would be as tall as Manny and harder to hit. Manny has a little difficulty with quick counter-punchers. But Margarito is neither quick nor a counter-puncher.”
Fernandez said with Roach in his corner, Pacquiao is in good hands.
“I think even (Margarito’s trainer) Robert Garcia acknowledges that Freddie’s the best trainer in the world today,” said Fernandez. “Nobody’s better than Freddie. I don’t know too much about Garcia. Some of his fighters have sparred with Manny and there’s no comparison. I’ve learned a lot from Freddie. He’s the type who’s not stingy in sharing his knowledge. You’ll have to be very dense not to learn from Freddie when he’s teaching you.”
Pacquiao’s Canadian adviser Michael Koncz said there’s no stopping Pacman.
“He’s enjoying what he’s doing,” said Koncz. “Once he stops enjoying and boxing becomes work, he’ll quit. At the moment, he gets hungrier after every victory. He doesn’t let up. In the gym, he outlasts everyone. His motivation is he wants to prove he can still perform at a high level as a fighting congressman.”
Fernandez said it doesn’t matter whom Pacquiao faces in the ring.
“Even if Manny fights someone he’s beaten before like Cotto, the fans will come out to watch him,” said Fernandez. “Never mind his opponent. Fans want to see how Manny fights, if he’s still as explosive now that he’s a congressman. Fans want to see if he’s changed. It’s Manny whom the fans pay money to watch, not his opponent. He’s the draw, nobody else.”
Fernandez said Pacquiao won’t likely venture beyond the superwelterweight class in his career.
“There’s a limit to his body growth,” said Fernandez. “I think he’ll stop at superwelterweight (154 pounds). But after Margarito, there are many more competitive fights out there for Manny. Andre Berto, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Paul Williams are tough opponents. Of course, there’s Floyd Mayweather, too. Manny will beat them all. This is his time.”
Joaquin Henson, Philippine Star