There was much anticipation and hype heading into the fourth bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez this past Saturday night.
Considered as not just one of the best boxing rivalries of this era, but of all-time, the most recent match of this epic saga once again lived up to the hype.
|Photo by: Al Bello|
Then in the third round, Juan Manuel sent Manny crashing down to the canvas for the first time in all four bouts with a right hook to the chin.
Round 4 was the usual cat and mouse game, followed up by Pac-Man returning the favor in the fifth as he caught Marquez off balance with a big left. Marquez didn't hit the deck, but stumbled, with his glove touching the canvas, scoring Manny an official knock down.
The match reached a climax in the sixth, as both boxers traded power punches throughout.
But with only a couple seconds left in the round, Pacquiao hesitantly threw a lazy right jab which Marquez easily side stepped and conjured up a powerful straight right hand into the Filipino's face. Manny crashed to the canvas and laid motionless, face down for a few minutes before finally getting helped up.
Needless to say, Dinamita (Dynamite) finally earned the victory that had evaded him for 8 long years.
Prior to the stunning knockout, all three judges had the scorecard 47-46 in favor of Pac-Man. Besides the 10-8 rounds for each fighter, all the other rounds could have gone either way. I had it 48-45 for Manny, only because he had been busier in most rounds.
The bottom line is, it was going to be another very difficult bout for the judges to score, and who knows which way they would have leaned.
This is why it was imperative that Marquez not put his fate in the judges' hands this time around, and you could tell he was looking for the knockout the entire time. The 38-year-old was being patient and throwing haymakers any chance he got. 41 of the 52 total punches he landed were power punches.
Luckily for him, he finally caught Manny with a perfect shot.
What also helped Marquez was the extra muscle and strength training he took on during his camp for this fight.
There has been speculation that he may have taken performance enhancement drugs while training which helped him get so big and strong since he's never looked so chiseled before. Not to mention teaming up with strength coach and former PED dealer, Alex "Memo" Heredia.
But knowing they are in the spotlight and with everyone being aware of Heredia's past, I seriously doubt that he and Marquez would be foolish enough to take that chance.
The fact of the matter is, Marquez trained for four months. He wanted this fight badly, and he wanted a knockout to bring closure to this rivalry. That is why he worked extra hard on his speed and power for an extended period of time.
It's also very unfair of Pacquiao's camp to insinuate that Marquez must have been juicing, considering they took exception when Mayweathers implied the same thing about Manny. They even sued his camp for defamation of character. Yet, they've got no problem doing it to Juan Manuel.
If that's not being hypocritical, I don't know what is.
After all, the Mexican legend has always possessed the same knockout ability as Pacquiao. It can be proven by their almost identical records in the ring.
Marquez was 54-6-1 with 39 knockouts heading into Saturday's bout. His Filipino counterpart was 54-4-2 with 38 knockouts.
So just because Manny has moved up in weight more and knocked out bigger fighters doesn't mean that Juan Manuel isn't capable of ending a fight with a KO as well. He knew he needed a knockout -- and that's what he went for.
Now the question is, what's next for both fighters?
There's the possibility for a fifth fight. Personally, I don't think it will happen, and frankly, I don't think Marquez would or should even have to face Pac-Man again. He has nothing left to prove. He vindicated his claims to being the superior fighter, especially since he arguably won the first three fights.
And even if you doubt that, let's play the hypothetical game.
The first fight, which was the draw, could have gone to Pacquiao. He knocked Marquez down 3 times in the first round. And even though Juan Manuel managed to recover and dominated much of the fight after that, he basically dug himself too deep of a hole early in the bout.
Plus, one of the judges admitted to not fully comprehending the 3-knock down rule, and as a result, scored the first round as 10-7 instead of 10-6. That point proved to be costly for Pac-Man, giving them a draw instead.
So for the sake of argument, let's say Pacquiao won the first fight.
The second encounter was a complete robbery. Pacquiao was given a split decision, but this was easily the most lopsided fight of them all. Marquez should have won, but due to the fact that two of the judges awarded Manny the 6th round when Juan Manuel had clearly won it, that gave the Filipino the 1-point win instead.
Jim Lampley even said during the live broadcast: "Clearly Marquez won that round. To my eyes it was clear that Marquez tactically won the round."
Howard Lederman also gave Marquez the round, and Larry Merchant agreed with him.
You could also hear Pac-Man's trainer, Freddie Roach, tell Manny following the round that he was "letting it get away from him." He also later admitted on the first episode of HBO's 24/7 series that he believed they had lost the sixth round.
So technically, that 1-point victory for Pacquiao should have been a 1-point victory for Marquez.
The third match was another slugfest. This time, Juan Manuel fought a lot smarter and kept himself from hitting the canvas. In my eyes, it seemed Manny didn't do anything to deserve the majority decision he was given.
However, I agree with the saying, "In order to be the champ, you have to beat the champ."
Pac-Man was the champion entering the fight, so Marquez needed to conclusively beat him in order to take his belt. This was also another reason why there was no way Marquez should have lost the second fight, seeing as how he was the champ heading into that bout.
The final Compubox numbers show that Pacquiao landed more total punches (176-138), more jabs (59-38), and more power punches (117-100). However, Juan Manuel landed a better overall percentage. In fact, in terms of efficiency, he won 7 of the 12 rounds.
To give both fighters the benefit of the doubt, this bout could have easily been a draw.
If you're keeping score at home, that means the trilogy should've been 1-1-1 heading into the fourth fight. That would have very well made it a "winner-take-all" situation.
And since Marquez scored the emphatic knockout victory, there shouldn't be a fifth encounter.
Still, there isn't really a good fight left on the table for Marquez. He doesn't gain anything by taking a fight against a young, up-and-coming boxer.
A rematch with Mayweather isn't out of the realm of possibility, but no one would want to see that.
I understand many people believe Mayweather would dominate Marquez like he did back in 2009, but don't let that travesty of a fight fool you. Mayweather didn't even make weight. It's bad enough Marquez had to move up in weight class, but then was outmatched by a heavier, stronger fighter. Juan Manuel just collected his paycheck and that was it.
He knew he had no chance.
Ultimately, both boxers are counter-punchers, and that style does not bode well for the fans.
Instead, Dinamita now has the rare opportunity to retire on top, leave on a high note, ride off into the sunset and never look back. He has nothing left to prove. His legacy is fulfilled.
As for Pacquiao, retirement is also an option. He hasn't looked great in the last few years, and quite honestly, I'm not so sure he has the passion for boxing anymore. Politics and his family are his main priorities at this point.
Does he still possess the skill to compete?
Absolutely. It's just a matter of being focused and putting together a solid training camp. The more likely scenario, if he does get back in the ring, is to avenge his loss to Timothy Bradley. Everyone knows he was totally robbed of a decision in that fight.
I believe that rematch would light a fire under Pac-Man to score a knockout next time around, a la Marquez.
And of course, the super fight that the world has been dying to see between Pacquiao and Mayweather might happen. Many believe it won't because Manny lost, but I'm not so sure that Floyd will keep ducking Pac-Man now that he sees he's vulnerable. It'd still be a massive payday for "Money," and this recent loss for Pacquiao just gives Floyd more justification to give Manny less cash.
These are just a few of the possibilities for the futures of both Pacquiao and Marquez. And for all we know, they could very well be fighting once again next year.
Many fans were outraged after the third bout, saying things like, "If they fight again, I'm not watching... The judges are thieves... Boxing is fixed... etc."
But we all know that once that next fight is announced, those same fans will be tuning in as always.