(Juan Manuel Marquez celebrates his knockout; credit, Chris Farina, Top Rank)
We finally got a definitive outcome in the rivalry between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday night on HBO pay-per-view, and in a way that rocks the sport of boxing to its core: Marquez knocked Pacquiao -- one of boxing's two biggest stars -- out cold in the 6th round. It had been a thrilling back-and-forth bout prior to that, one where both men traded knockdowns.
If anyone was thought to be able to render a conclusive end to this bout, it was predicted that it would be Pacquiao, as he was the man who's been living at welterweight for a while and has always been the bigger puncher of the two, while Marquez has only flirted with the division. In the first two rounds, it looked very much like Pacquiao was the one who had come out with the better focus and better game plan -- head movement, feints, using his legs to fire and get out. But in the 3rd, Marquez, who had been investing in body punches, feinted with a left to the body and then caught Pacquiao with a looping overhand right that legitimately dropped Pacquiao for the first time in many years.
Pacquiao recovered, though, both psychologically and physically, in the very next round, and by the 5th he gave Marquez a knockdown of his own, and a more damaging one, and after rising from that straight left, Marquez foolishly traded with Pacquiao until the bell rang in one of the best rounds of 2012.
Everything seemed to be going Pacquiao's way in the 6th, too, until the final seconds: Pacquiao lunged forward, and Marquez, who was crouching down, thrust forward a full-force, crunching, perfect right hand that caught Pacquiao as precisely as you can catch someone. Pacquiao landed flat on his face, unconscious, and frighteningly so; I was legitimately worried that he was dead.
There might be a rematch, but this is the kind of knockout loss that Pacquiao has delivered in the past, the career-ending kind against Ricky Hatton. If it's the end of the road for Pacquiao, he really does go down as THE fighter of this era who has the best resume. If he rebounds from this, somehow, it will be impressive enough, but Pacquiao has enough going for himself as a politician in the Philippines that he ought to consider ending on this note and moving on to the next phase of his life. If Pacquiao is through, then we're at the end of a period in boxing where he has been one of the sport's signature stars. It certainly kills the viability of the mega-fight with the other signature star of this era, Floyd Mayweather.
Marquez finally gets that win that has eluded him after three previous meetings with Pacquiao. Given his association with controversial strength and conditioning coach Angel Heredia, and his cut physique at age 39, there will be those who will chalk up this victory to performance enhancing drugs. There is no proof of any malfeasance, though, and until then all anyone has is suspicion, reasonable or no. What we do know is this: Marquez scored a career-defining win and a knockout for the ages, which will go down as one of the most memorable and meaningful KOs in the sport's history.
This fight will end up being one of those convulsive, transitional moments for boxing, for so many reasons.
One, the cloak of invincibility surrounding one of boxing's two biggest stars has been torn from edge to edge. Pacquiao still will be a huge PPV draw if he continues in the ring, but he won't attract nearly as many drive-by boxing fans who watched his fights during his "killing machine" days of 2008 through 2010.
Two, this could be the end for two of the sport's biggest stars. No one would blame Pacquiao for hanging up the gloves after this fight or one valedictory, bounce-back victory, perhaps in The Phillippines. His heart always was split between boxing and his people, and that decision became quite a bit easier now that his brain probably still splits with pain from that punch.
Marquez probably will continue, but is there a greater exclamation point for his career? Is there a shinier ribbon in which he could be wrapped and presented to Canastota? This almost is the boxing equivalent of Ray Bourque finally winning the Stanley Cup and then retiring.
JMM could detonate Brandon Rios. He could beat Tim Bradley. He could beat Robert Guerrero. He could counter Lucas Matthysse into submission. And none would be as satisfying and career-defining as Saturday night. The only outcome that could top the knockout of Pacquiao for Marquez would be a clear decision or knockout in a rematch with Mayweather. And there's a better likelihood of John Boehner skipping a tanning session than that happening.
Floyd Mayweather is the undisputed king of boxing. Is that really good for the sport? Sure, he draws attention because he polarizes. But he has ZERO commercial or mainstream media presence, unlike Pacquiao, which does nothing to broaden the sport's appeal.
This is a ripe time for boxing to make a big push for its stars on the cusp, such as Andre Ward, Carl Froch, Adrien Broner, Robert Guerrero, Canelo and Sergio Martinez. None of the intergalactic star quality of Pacquiao or Mayweather, but there is a depth of quality in boxing right now that must be promoted and cultivated. A new megastar will emerge from that.
But that comes with trepidation, as boxing promoters are just TV packagers that care little about growing the sport beyond their respective bank accounts.
A challenging time lies ahead for this sport. Almost the cliched crossroads.
great fight but regarding Manny knocking down Marquez I'm not so sure that was a bigger knock down. watching the replays it looks like Manny caught him with a punch and Marquez tripped over his feet. Marquez took further punishment in the round but I'm not sure how much that punch actually hurt him. just looks like he got knocked off balance and then tripped over mannys foot.
Purely hypothetical question here...
I've heard there was one second left when Manny was dropped, if the bell had rung and then JMM hit him... what would be the outcome? Is it still a KO or ... what?
ROIDS! just kidding! props to jmm for a great fight. he really does have pac's number. manny has always just won (or competed) against marquez with pure athleticism. but after this KO i don't think pac can do or change anything anymore to beat jmm if they fight a 5th time. i don't think manny's washed up but jmm just knows him too much for him to deliver a decisive win. if pac isn't psychologically affected by the KO i think he can still beat guys like bradley, rios or other top fighters. maybe even floyd. jmm has a different counter-punching style with floyd. jmm is brave enough to take pac's punch so he could counter. that's how he caught manny. floyd doesn't take that much risk. but of course, floyd will still be a huge favorite. don't think that fight will ever happen now though. jmm is like the terminator. no matter how many times you knock him down, he just keeps getting up.
Marquez is indeed a warrior! he have taken the risk of getting KO'ed. Kudos to Marquez to a win which will go down to boxing history in ages! and thumbs up to Pacquiao for forcing his way to KO Marquez, a pride of true a warrior!
Indeed, JMM was the better man in that fight and he deserves all the kudos there is to give. What most people seem to have missed or failed to recognize was the re-emergence of MP's fighter instincts in this bout given his lackadaisical performances in his last few fights. If not for that beautiful counter by JMM, I thought MP was on his way to his own KO. JMM's face was being reconfigured (look at his face at the start of rd 6 as well as his eyes). That was the vintage MP. It was a great fight and I'm not sad at the outcome.
JMM showed patience in wating for the good opportunity. While JMM was already bloodied from his nose, he continued on with his determination to win. And he won convincingly by a knockout.
Just imagine Pacquiao/Marquez V in a 100K + seat soccer stadium in Mexico...the roof would come off the universe
@jblatt1 Probably still, yeah. Me personally? I got no interest in V now. I tend not to want to see rematches of fights that end like THAT.
@tstarks Maybe not right away, gotta see if Pacquiao can rebound. I don't wanna see it if he is ruined a la Paul Williams, but if he can come back in the summer and make a nice showing, then V. What a spectacle that would be...
I remember when he lost a questionable decision to Chris John in Indonesia for like bus fare money. JMM has come a long way, baby.
finally...it could have gone either way but tonite marquez was the better man...it just seemed like it was bound to happen this time...
@stickfigure Finally, indeed. He was long overdue. I guess that explains how he did it: All the close losses just burst forth into this incredible victory.
This doesn't happen often-- I'm speechless. Wish Emanuel Steward was around to see this fight (and my Dad) --they would have loved it.
@Mike Ricciardelli An amazing moment. Only boxing can deliver moments like THAT. I think Emanuel, who loved the sport to his dying day, would have been amazed, too. I can only assume your father was of the same kind.