As bleak as three-time former world champion Antonio Margarito’s (38-6) chances may seem on November 13th against 7 weight division world champion Manny Pacquiao (51-3-2) there are a couple strategies that he could employ to emerge victorious. Margarito could choose to fight the way that he did against current WBA super welterweight champion Miguel Cotto, constantly pressing forward, cutting off the ring, walking through punches, and then landing hard body punches and uppercuts when in range. This tactic is very risky, but if Margarito employs more head movement to make Pacquiao miss and get off balance, Margarito may be able to land enough body punches early on to slow down Pacquiao just enough to corner him later on in the fight. This strategy was most likely what Ricky Hatton had in mind in his disastrous fight against Pacquiao, but Margarito has the chin that Hatton unfortunately did not.
Another possible gameplan for Margarito would be to utilize stiff straight punches and footwork to keep Pacquiao at the end of his jab. This is the ideal strategy for when a boxer has a height and reach advantage, especially one as drastic as the difference between Margarito and Pacquiao, but Margarito has not shown that he has the tools to pull off this strategy. Perhaps with some work in his training camp, Margarito can improve his jab and his straight right hand so that he can throw both with power and without losing balance. Footwork is also key to this strategy, but Margarito’s best footwork is used as he presses forward to cut off the ring, not while moving laterally to outbox his opponent. Another key for this strategy would be for Margarito to aim for Pacquiao’s neck and body, rather than his head, which would help Margarito to nullify Pacquiao’s head movement, land more shots to build rhythm, and draw Pacquiao’s guard lower so that he opens up his head. This strategy was used by six weight division former world champion Tommy “Hitman” Hearns in his classic bout against the much shorter four weight division former world champion Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, that fight ending in round two after Hearns landed a vicious right hand shot upstairs which was set up beautifully by several straight punches to the body. Employing the same strategy as Hearns, Margarito would be able to keep away from Pacquiao, outpoint him to steal some rounds, and gradually wear down the smaller fighter in the later rounds. This strategy would be ideal for Margarito, but whether he will be able to pull it off is another question in itself.
Most likely, Margarito will attempt to outbox Pacquiao with straight punches, but Pacquiao’s elusive head movement and footwork will allow him to set up his straight left hand shots. While he may be able to stick to trying to box during the early rounds, Margarito will most likely slip back into his old style of walking through punches as the fight drags on. He will most likely enjoy a little more success with his old style, but it will be too little too late. Pacquiao won’t have the liberty of playing around against Margarito as he did in his fight against Clottey, but he will still most likely walk away victorious with another unanimous decision victory against another worthwhile contender.