MANILA, Philippines - Eight-division boxing champ Manny Pacquiao may have cemented his reputation as one of the sport's greatest fighters but his latest fight could also be his classiest.
Boxing analyst Dennis Principe made this observation after seeing how the People's Champ systemic destruction of the bigger and heavier Antonio Margarito in a unanimous decision on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
"Manny Pacquiao should be declared the greatest fighter of all time, even greater than Muhammad Ali. Name all the fighters that you know achieved greatness. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Haggler, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali. Like Pacquiao, these fighters fought the best available opponents and faced the toughest challenges," he said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
"Unlike Pacquiao, these fighters established their greatness by beating fighters in the same division, in the same weight level. Pacquiao fought great champions who are heavier and supposedly better than him and he did it now just once or twice but several times," he added.
The 31-year-old Pacquiao dominated all 12 rounds against his bigger Mexican opponent at the Dallas Cowboys stadium, winning an eighth world title in an eighth weight class.
Pacquiao may have been 17 pounds lighter than the Tijuana Tornado but he more than made up for his small size with his lightning hand speed and precise power punching to improve his career record to 52-3-2, with 38 knockouts.
Principe said he expected Pacquiao to wear down Margarito by following the fight plan conceived by his coach Freddie Roach.
He said that during Pacquiao's training in Baguio City, he noticed that Roach would use his knees and elbows to rough up the Pacman while sparring.
"I asked Roach why he was roughing up Manny and he said: 'Because Margarito is a dirty fighter.' I noticed during sparring and punching mitts, Roach would tell him: 'Don't stay in front of this man. Don't stay on the ropes. Move around a lot.' That gave me the idea that he would not go toe-to-toe with Margarito. You can have all the power in the world but if you can't get your opponent in front of you then it won't work," he said.
Principe and ANC host TJ Manotoc agreed that despite his power, the Mexican fighter was simply too slow for Pacquiao.
"Margarito was too slow. Every time he threw a punch, Manny would stick him 2-3 times," he said. He, however, added that Pacquiao almost got in trouble when his glove got caught in one of the ropes during the 6th round, allowing Margarito to punch him in the body.
Principe said Margarito does not have a lot of head movement, which allowed Pacquiao to pepper him with shots.
He also questioned referee Laurence Cole's decision not to end the beating after Margarito was clearly losing in the last 3 rounds.
"I guess he should have stopped the fight. Just because Margarito wanted to fight doesn't mean he should be given the privilege to be beaten into a pulp. We saw what happened to him. Good thing for Margarito mabait si Manny (Manny was nice to him)," he said.
Several times in the 11th round, Pacquiao looked at Cole as if to ask that the fight be stopped. He later told broadcaster Mario Lopez that he took compassion on Margarito after the Mexican was allowed to continue the fight.
“I didn’t want to hurt him because boxing is not all about killing each other,” Pacquiao said.
Principe said Pacquiao's attitude showed he is a cut above every other boxing champ that has entered the ring.
"By saying that he did not want to hurt Margarito, it proves that he is the greatest fighter ever. He has done the sport a great favor. We've heard fighters saying I'm going to kill you. I am going to crush your heart. I am going to eat your children. It's trash talk. He can be the greatest but he can also be the classiest," he said.