Talented, physically gifted with a reputation as one of the hardest working athlete in sports, Manny Pacquiao is no doubt the favorite in his bout against Antonio Margarito and deservedly so. Actually he's probably expected to not only win but dominate based on his and Margarito's recent performances.
However, there are many intangibles in this fight that points to this fight being more competitive that most people think.
First the fight is being held at 150 lbs., a weight class that provides more advantage to Margarito since the latter is the much bigger man. Margarito had a difficult time making weight last time and not having to lose three pounds could have a significant positive impact in his strength and stamina.
During his the workout for his media day, Margarito did not look dehydrated and seemed to be in great condition. He looked sharp and seemed to be stronger than he was during the Mosley fight. According to his trainer Robert Garcia, Margarito came in great shape into camp and is scheduled to make the weight without any problems.
Also, Margarito is known for his granite chin and the added weight will only enhance his ability to take punches. If he can walk through Pacquiao's combinations, then he will be able to land his share of punches and combinations. If he does, then the fight can turn to Margarito's way since Pacquiao has a tendency to throw punches instead of clinching when being hit.
In addition, Michael Marley of Examiner.com made a good point during our conversation in the Wild Card Gym, when he mentioned that he does not put too much emphasis on Margarito's performance against Mosley when analyzing the latter's chances against Pacquiao. He pointed that the plaster incident could have a affected Margarito enough mentally.
The mental game is an important aspect in sports and at times overlooked. But it can easily play the most important factor in an athlete's success. It's the same reason why many athletes follow certain rituals or superstitions religiously because any changes in their routine can affect them psychologically, which can negatively impact their performance.
But now, Margarito should be mentally prepared since he knows a victory can be his redemption.
Also, this could be the fight that the distractions that always surrounds the Pacquiao camp finally catches up with the pound for pound king. No doubt, Pacquiao seems to thrive on distractions, but for the first time he has another 'distraction' that is more important than his boxing career, which is his political career.
As a congressman, he now must prioritize his responsibilities in public service in order to help his constituents before anything else. As a result, there are times where he has no choice but to interrupt his training, when his staff needs to update him on his responsibilities as a congressman as we saw in the first HBO 24/7 episode.
Another factor that should many fans should not forget is the fact that Robert Garcia is now training Margarito. We only need to look at Pacquiao to see what a world class trainer can do to a boxer.
Javier Capetillo might have helped guide Margarito to become one of the elite fighters before, but he is not on Garcia's level as a trainer. Garcia has helped the careers of many fighters such as Steven Luevano, Brian Viloria, Brandon Rios, Mikey Garcia and Nonito Donaire. In fact he is has a 3-0 record when facing a Freddie Roach fighter.
So should Pacquiao be the favorite in this fight? Definitely, but you can never count out a desperate and determined athlete who is on the journey to redemption.