Reporting from Arlington, Texas — The low blows started before Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito stepped into the ring.
In a video that appeared on various websites Tuesday, Margarito, his trainer Robert Garcia and Oxnard fighter Brandon Rios mocked the symptoms of Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, who has Parkinson's disease.
"I had trouble sleeping last night," Roach said Wednesday after reviewing the video. "I want to fight all those guys myself, but I'm too old. … I'll never talk to any of those guys again."
Pacquiao and Margarito will fight for the World Boxing Council junior-middleweight title Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.
The news conference Wednesday went beyond the typical big-fight testiness at the end of long training camps, when fighters, and those closest to them, finally come face to face with their opponent after weeks of derogatory talk with a battle looming.
Garcia tried to apologize at the news conference without saying the word "sorry," adding that Rios "didn't know [Roach's condition] was a disease. He thought it was from his 13 losses [as a fighter]. I want to make that clear."
Garcia said he wanted to apologize to Roach face to face at a later date and admitted, "Anything to win a fight, we'll use. This is part of the game: head games."
Margarito (38-6, 27 knockouts) appeared on the stage in sunglasses to contrast the beaming smiles of Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38 KOs).
Margarito, nicknamed the "Tijuana Tornado," laughed at the suggestion he was unwise to provoke the popular Pacquiao, who has won 12 consecutive marquee fights, eight by knockout, and is seeking a record eighth world weight-class belt.
"Saturday, you'll have a new champion," Margarito said of himself, a 6-to-1 underdog. "They've been saying stuff about us, too. This is nothing, we'll move on. I think they're very nervous. That's all this is — nerves.
"They see my size [advantage], how good I look."
Said Pacquiao: "My main focus is to give a good clean fight. I'm praying for my opponent, and on Saturday we will be happy."
He'll have a fierce motivator in Roach, who along with Pacquiao, has pulled no punches in scoffing at Margarito's insistence that he never knew there were plaster-hardened inserts inside his hand wraps before a 2009 loss to Shane Mosley at Staples Center.
The wraps were confiscated before Margarito fought, and he had his license revoked by the California State Athletic Commission.
Wednesday, fight promoter Bob Arum praised the Texas commissioner who reinstated Margarito.
He called William Kuncz "a real American who stands up for principle [when] other commissions feasted on innuendoes, lies and smears. … We don't convict a man on innuendo and suspicion.
"This man [Margarito] did nothing wrong and for 18 months he's gone through hell. On Saturday night, he'll give you the fight of his life."
Roach, proud of his motto, "I don't trust anybody," said he'll have someone inspect Margarito's entire hand-wrapping procedure Saturday night "from start to finish.
"I don't trust those guys," Roach said. "He's a cheater."
Roach said Margarito's recent videotape, and his playful use of a concrete chunk during a hand wrap on HBO's "24/7," has been an insult to the sport.
Roach spent nearly four hours Wednesday working with Pacquiao, and his other star fighters, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and junior-welterweight world champion Amir Khan, at a public workout.
The trainer said he doubled his Parkinson's medication Wednesday to reduce the tremors he experiences.
"This shows who those guys are," Roach said. "What I have is something boxers attain when they get hit a lot, like Margarito does. I hope he doesn't get this."
Pacquiao said he won't meet the catchweight limit of 150 pounds for the bout and will probably weigh in Friday around 148 to "maximize my advantage: speed."
Said Pacquiao: "Don't be surprised if this fight doesn't last one round."
Pacquiao wouldn't say how he uses anger to motivate him, except to note, "We won't let [Margarito] do that cheating again."