Pacquiao Redux: Happiness is Cowboys Stadium in my rear-view mirror
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Arlington, TX (Sports Network) -
Random notes from a detoured trip to Margaritoville:
OK, before we dispense with obligatory 72-hour-old comments on the past weekend's fight card, let's first provide credit where it's due in terms of the venue -- Jerry Jones' palatial Cowboys Stadium.
Bottom line, the place is a gem.
And if it's possible to say of a football stadium, it was a billion dollars well spent -- most of it, incidentally, from ol' Jerry's own pocket. The Lone Star football czar went undeniably first class all the way, from the press boxes to the luxury suites to the home team's locker room, which, by ownership mandate, will be used by no other entity other than the Dallas Cowboys.
When the Super Bowl arrives in February, the competing teams will use two other in-house changing rooms. When the world's most famous cheerleading outfit suits up, it does so in its own reserved spot. And when a certain Filipino and a certain California-born Mexican prepped for their one-sided 12- round bloodbath, it was elsewhere from the big room Romo, DeMarcus and Dez call home each weekend.
Love him or hate him, the guy knows how to establish a brand. And when the team returns to its place of usual NFL prominence next season -- likely armed with a big-time coach and a high draft pick -- he'll be laughing his way to the nearest Brinks truck, cradling the gobs of cash people still shell out to tour the place midweek in the midst of a 2-7 disaster season.
Manny Pacquiao's victory in Saturday night's main event was just a little more satisfying because of who it happened to.
How 'bout them Cowboys indeed.
As for the undercard, sometimes the best victory is a close loss.
While all three winners in the pay-per-view run-up emerged slightly less valuable than when they arrived, the fighter who came out of it best just might have been 28-year-old Mexican warhorse Jesus Soto-Karass, who went the route in dropping a narrow 10-round decision to Philly prospect Mike Jones.
Two judges gave the verdict to Jones by four- and one-point margins, respectively, with a third seeing it even. My card had Jones winning only the initial two rounds and the final two rounds, providing Soto-Karass the overall win with a 96-94 count.
A result that close hardly resembles robbery, but those who had Jones breezing through to a title bout with Andre Berto and viewed him clearly on a championship level now have reason to pause, in the aftermath of a 60-second flurry that seemed to empty his tank for five rounds.
And while Soto-Karass won't take the game effort into matches approaching title-belt significance, his workmanlike output warrants at least another round or two on the next big PPV show.
For what it's worth, if I'm doing the pre-main event rankings, they go as follows:
2) Brandon Rios
3) Guillermo Rigondeaux
5) Ricardo Cordoba
6) Omri Lowther
I wasn't in the Staples Center locker room 22 months ago.
And regardless of my opinions of those who've testified since, I've got no real way of uncovering just what Antonio Margarito did/didn't know about his hand wraps prior to his fight with Shane Mosley.
But like a lot of others, I think he was in on what was done.
And I think it might have happened before L.A., too. Enough said.
Anyway, for those who share that viewpoint, I wonder if the brutally one-sided nature of Manny Pacquiao's victory in Saturday night's main event was just a little more satisfying because of who it happened to.
If Margarito had competed evenly, or even won, it would have once again sent all the wrong messages to those who flaunt the rules and think nothing of putting an unknowing foe in harm's way.
And to see that very same disrespecting bully -- not to mention tasteless disease-mocking jerk -- smacked from pillar to post by a guy who's never done it anything but right ... now that was entertainment.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not the type who roots for injuries. I don't boo at football games. And I don't wish substantial ill will upon any man or woman brave enough to step into a ring.
But to the guys who've had their faces rearranged in previous fights courtesy of those same questionable fists -- Mssrs. Cintron and Cotto come immediately to mind -- the whole 12 rounds had to have reeked of "see, smart guy, this is what it feels like" poetic justice.
And while I don't always buy in to the whole "higher power" worship system, maybe a few contusions, a jagged cheek cut and some time under the knife to repair a dented orbital bone might be evidence of someone upstairs who's keeping score after all.
Toward that end, now that I've seen his face ... I guess I'm a believer.
This week's title-fight schedule:
IBO cruiserweight title - Mt. Claremont, Australia Danny Green (champion) vs. BJ Flores (No. 6 contender) Green (30-3, 27 KO): Fourth title defense; Fought 12 rounds in last five bouts (5-0, 5 KO) Flores (24-0-1, 15 KO): First title fight; First fight in 15 months (August 2009) Fitzbitz says: "Australian slugger reaching his peak in 200-pound division." Green in 10
WBC middleweight title - Atlantic City, N.J. Sergio Martinez (champion) vs. Paul Williams (No. 2 contender) Martinez (45-2-2, 24 KO): First title defense; One win in three fights since 2008 (1-1-1, 0 KO) Williams (39-1, 27 KO): Fourth title fight; Defeated Martinez by majority decision in 2009 Fitzbitz says: "Incumbent champion evens score in 160-pound title match." Martinez by decision
WBO super middleweight title - Dresden, Germany Robert Stieglitz (champion) vs. Enrique Ornelas (No. 9 contender) Stieglitz (38-2, 23 KO): Third title defense; Unbeaten since 2008 (7-0, 4 KO) Ornelas (30-6, 20 KO): First title fight; Five wins in nine fights since 2006 (5-4, 5 KO) Fitzbitz says: "Stieglitz retains title on second tier at 168 pounds." Stieglitz by decision
Last week's picks: 2-0
Overall picks record: 244-83 (74.6 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at www.twitter.com/fitzbitz.