Pacquiao Enlisting Big Names

Manny Pacquiao is wasting no expense in his training for the Nov. 13 bout with Antonio Margarito for the vacant boxing odds WBC junior middleweight title at Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas. The seven-time world champion is bringing British WBA welterweight world champion Amir Khan to the Philippines later this week for about three weeks of sparring.

Khan is set to defend his WBA title against Marcos Maidana of Argentina so he has his own reasons for wanting to work with Pacquiao and Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach as well.

"Tell me if there's a better place to be than with the world's best trainer and the world's best boxer. I learn so much from rubbing shoulders with Manny and I genuinely admire him," Khan said.

Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs) is riding a 12-fight winning streak that includes eight knockouts and will be after his record eighth crown in as many different weight classes. He is the -575 favorite on Bodog’s boxing odds for this fight.

Khan will join Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Vanes Martirosyan as upcoming sparring partners for Pacquiao. Khan is 5-foot-10 while Chavez, an unbeaten middleweight top contender, is 6-feet tall. Thus both are the right fit as Pacquiao's sparring partners because Margarito is 5-foot-11. Plus Khan’s hand speed is much greater than Margarito’s, so that would only help Pacquiao. Pacquiao also used Khan to help get ready for his fight two years ago with Oscar De La Hoya, who is also 5-foot-11.

Pacquiao assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez said Margarito’s 4 1/2-inch height advantage won’t make a difference. Pacquiao will be at a sizable weight disadvantage as well because Pacquiao started his boxing career at 106 pounds and eventually climbed all the way up to the welterweight division of 147 pounds. He is unlikely to be near the catchweight of 151 on fight night while Margarito walks around at 170 pounds or more and could have something like a 15-20 pound advantage once the first-round bell rings.

“Manny finds it easier to hit a taller opponent like a De La Hoya,” said Fernandez. “He finds it harder to connect on a fighter who’s either his size or a little shorter. Juan Manuel Marquez knew that. You remember when he fought Manny, he bent his head down so he would be as tall as Manny and harder to hit. Manny has a little difficulty with quick counter-punchers. But Margarito is neither quick nor a counter-puncher.”

There had been talk that Khan and Pacquiao might fight some day but Khan said he couldn’t see that happening.

“We train in the same camp and I’ve got too much respect for Manny to fight him,” Khan said.

Roach, meanwhile, said Pacquiao was at 50 to 60 percent of himself when they arrived in the Philippines more than a week ago and said his fighter should be close to 90 percent before they fly to Los Angeles later this month.

Margarito will be fighting in the U.S. for the first time since January 2009, when he was dethroned as WBA welterweight champion following a ninth-round knockout loss to Shane Mosley in Los Angeles. A resulting hand wrapping scandal led to the removal of his license by the California State Athletic Commission until last month when Texas licensed him to face Pacquiao. Margarito, who did fight in Mexico in May, told the CSAC he no knowledge of the plaster-like substance that was placed in his hand wraps by his then-trainer but that commission didn’t buy it.

Margarito (38-6, 27 knockouts) will certainly be giving up speed and mobility against Pacquiao but has a plan to deal with that.

“By cutting off of the ring and just generally applying a lot of pressure and throwing a lot of punches will be a big factor,” he said. “I will need to throw punches in four- to five-punch combinations.”