Saturday's big fight night is approaching, as Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito prepare to square off a vacant 154 lb. belt at beautiful Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Saturday night. Plenty of excited fans showed up to watch Margarito and Pacquiao go through their paces separately in a makeshift ring on Tuesday, and there are plenty more who have a lot of questions about the big event. So, as Oscar De La Hoya would say, without any further ado, let's get to the "mailbag:"
A lot of people really love me and support me, and I'm very grateful for that, but there are some people who keep asking me the same mean questions over and over and never seem to leave me alone. What do I know about plaster? I'm no builder. How can I make those questions stop and convince the doubters I'm not a bad guy? - Sincerely, Antonio M., Tijuana.
Well, Antonio, it would have helped had you shown maybe just a tiny bit of contrition for what happened last year. I understand that you insist that it wasn't your fault and that you didn't know what was happening, that it was that guy who just got flattened by the bus you threw him under. But at the end of the day, an athlete is responsible for everything he puts into and onto his body, and it would have helped if you had at least acknowledged that.
To be honest, though, that window has probably closed. The best thing you can do right now? Frankly, just win on Saturday. If you do that, you'll go a long way toward convincing at least some of the doubters that you don't need to cheat to win, and you can make a much more plausible case that your other signature victories were plaster-free as well. And many of those who still aren't sure will at least move on. You'll always have your doubters or those who are convinced of your previous guilt, but in sports, winning heals all.
Look at Michael Vick, or Ben Roethlisberger, or O.J. Simp ... OK, look at Michael Vick or Ben Roethlisberger. Some people will never forgive them for their actions, and I empathize with that. Others will see them leading their teams to victory on the football field, and that's all that will matter. Rightly or wrongly, the same goes for you.
I am a first-term Congressman. Also I am a singer. And an actor. And a boxer. My friends Freddie and Alex worry about whether it's possible for me to do all these things. What do you think? Yours, Congressman MP, Manila.
Congressman, thanks for writing. It's always a pleasure to know that we're gaining the attention of people in positions of authority.
First of all, the acting and the singing ... well, let's be honest. They're fun, but you're no Al Pacino and, well, candidly, Will Ferrell may have a better voice than you. Still, Jimmy Kimmel likes having you on the show, which is more than anyone can say about me.
I asked your friends Freddie and Alex about this, and they told me that they're not concerned about the acting and singing. But they're worried about how much the politics and the boxing conflict with each other. They know how much you care about both, and they're especially worried that because you've been a Congressman less time than you've been a boxer, that it's your new favorite thing and you want to put all your energies into that. That's understandable, but you need to find a way to balance the two. In the long term, that probably won't be sustainable, because as you get older you'll need to spend more and more time staying in boxing shape and you'll want to spend more and more of that time in politics. But at least for another year or so, if anybody can cope with the competing demands of two full-time jobs, it's probably you. You do appear to thrive on chaos, after all, and it's worked for you so far.
Hey, thanks, I really liked your answer to my earlier question. I like the idea of winning on Saturday. How do I do that? Tony M., Tijuana.
Tony, you probably have to start by doing something you don't normally do: Throw a stiff jab. Keep your opponent at a distance, because you have a height advantage. Let him wear himself out for the first few rounds, trying to get inside while you hit him with a left jab and a straight right. Then, by about the midway point, you can start giving up that height, leaning in and hitting him to the body to soften him up. Then back him against the ropes and finish him off with uppercuts.
OK, for now, I'm going to concentrate on the boxing. What do I have to do to win? MP, Manila.
Well, MP, this is where we're going to find out just how good that training camp was. The guy you're fighting is a monster. Even Joshua Clottey looked as if he hurt you on the four occasions he threw punches. This guy is going to keep coming and keep coming. BUT: You are much, much faster than him, and he doesn't have great defense. Keep moving, side to side, always side to side. Do not back up against the ropes like you did against Miguel Cotto, to see if he will hit you and hurt you. Because if you give him that chance, he will. Keep moving, firing punches and moving, and as the fight wears on and he begins to tire from throwing and missing, you can stand in front of him a bit more and dig your toes into the canvas a bit more to see if you can finish him off.