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Colin Barnicle Headshot

The Trainer Who Did Nothing

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Robert Garcia shouldn't train another fighter. Ever.

I once watched a chef flip a hefty piece of bloody meat onto a wooden board and with quick, accurate cleaves cut the beef into a hundred thin strips. Pop-pop-pop, just like that, his arm a precision piston slicing and hitting the same spot every time and when the pounding had stopped there was blood on the table and a finished masterpiece on a platter.

I watched that again Saturday night when Manny Pacquiao carved Antonio Margarito into a hanging piece of filleted flesh dripping from eyes leaking blood as he staggered toward slaughter like a stuck pig.

Manny Pacquiao, by night's end, had thrown 1069 punches, landed 44% of them and over 50% of his power shots, the ones that opened a crimson half-moon cavern below Antonio Margarito's left eye, by the fourth round.

It wasn't Margarito's fault he lost anymore than a cow is to blame for losing out to a butcher's knife. He fought all he could. Threw everything he had. Stood in against a barrage of straight rights and left hooks until the end. But, Pacquiao is an artist, with the footwork of a Russian ballet dancer and hands that slice through the air with sickening accuracy and speed and is, as Jim Lampley put it, "the best offensive fighter I've ever seen," and it was Robert Garcia's responsibility, not Margarito's, to stop the slaughter. And he didn't.

Antonio Margarito and Garcia, his trainer, had a clear goal coming into the fight: corner Pacquiao and turn it into a brawl. Power wins on the ropes and the man Margarito got into the ring with was seventeen pounds lighter and a head shorter. Pacquiao had fought opponents larger than him, but none this large and had, after all, come up almost forty pounds to fight Margarito.

For the first three rounds, Margarito felt out his opponent and tried to cut off the angle of escape from the ropes as Pacquiao quickly flipped his right through Margarito's gloves and countered with sharp lefts to the right side of his head.

When the bell rang to end the 3rd, Antonio Margarito came back to his corner with a smile and told trainer Robert Garcia that Pacquiao didn't have the power to hurt him. He had, in fact, cornered him, careening power rights off the top of Pacquiao's head as the diminutive champion pirouette out of the way and even Pacquiao later admitted, "I got hurt when on the ropes."

And then, the 4th round started and Pacquiao landed a left to Margarito's ribs that sucked the life out. And then, Margarito took the beating of a lifetime. And then, Robert Garcia did nothing.

By the fifth round, Pacquiao had thrown 409 punches, landing 41% of them. Garcia did nothing. Fine, let them fight.

In the sixth, Margarito rallied, cornering Pacquiao and trading blows for the last thirty seconds of the round. But, Pacquiao had beaten him in the round and seemed only to be on the ropes to bait the bigger man into a fall trap of combinations. Garcia did nothing. Fine, Margarito had rallied.

"Don't throw until your getting close," Robert Garcia said to Margarito between rounds but by then, Margarito's left eye was welded shut and he could not see the sharp left coming or Pacquiao's feet moving like apparitions on the canvas, helping him to disappear from his opponent's range as he shifted to his right. Garcia did nothing still.

In the 7th round, Pacquiao shuffled his feet mimicking Ali as if toying with Margarito.

In the 8th, Pacquiao took more shots than he ever had before from the biggest man he has ever fought, and still won the round.

In the 9th, the crowd started chanting, "Manny, Manny, Manny."

In the 10th, Margarito's wife looked out from her seat in the stands toward the ring like a PETA protestor at a slaughterhouse. The scorecard had Pacquiao winning every round, the fight was over, but Robert Garcia did nothing.

In the 11th, Pacquiao hit Margarito with a six-punch combination and looked at the referee to stop the fight but Margarito kept coming, not moving his head as the blows rang off it and George Foreman could only say, "I'm sorry but this is boxing," as Pacquiao looked again at the ref to stop it and again diced his hands into the bloody bulbous face of Antonio Margarito. Robert Garcia, towel in hand, did nothing.

"I felt pity to my opponent," Pacquiao said when asked if he carried his opponent through the 12th and final round and when it was over Margarito leaned against his trainer unable to see the interviewer in front of him and said, "I am a Mexican and we fight to the end."

Mexicans may fight to the end but trainer's should not let their fighter, who by all accounts was a stand in for another iconic fighter, a man as elusive outside the ring as Pacquiao is inside it - Floyd Mayweather Jr. - be put on the chopping block and carved irrevocably to pieces for twelve rounds.

Manny Pacquiao is the greatest fighter of the generation and should fight Mayweather next. Antonio Margarito is a tough guy, filled with pride and he may never fight again and if that is the case, Garcia should never train another fighter, ever, because he stood and watched an artist-chef with the feet of a ballet performer, a boxer with two red knives as hands, carve his own fighter's face across many rounds after the fight had really ended.

And now, Antonio Margarito, lies in a hospital with a swollen face and an orbital bone fracture and Robert Garcia can do nothing.

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