SAN DIEGO, December 9, 2012 – In boxing, a single punch can make history. It can define a fighter’s career in one second.
It was not a total shock that Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico scored a knockout victory over his longtime rival, eight weight class and ten time champion Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines. It was the way it went down that has left the entire boxing world trying to catch its breath, and left everyone speculating about what may lie ahead in 2013.
The bout started much like the very first fight of the series between Marquez and Pacquiao in 2004. Both fighters were energetic and active. Pacquiao was moving forward in his classic aggressive style, but with more head and upper body movement which was proving effective. Fans were excited to see Pacquiao looking like his old self, the boxer that took down opponents like Ricky Hatton, Oscar de la Hoya, and Miguel Cotto.
Pacquiao won the first two rounds. With one minute left in round three, Marquez found his opening and landed a perfectly placed right hook on Pacquiao, putting him down on the canvas. It came right over the top, seemingly from nowhere, and Marquez put everything he had into it. Pacquiao sprung back up, and though he seemed wobbly he finished the round.
Pacquiao came out for round four seemingly recovered and went to work on Marquez with a flurry of upper cuts. Marquez landed another right and it was clear these two were out to prove a point. Then as round five got underway, it was Pacquiao’s turn to knock Marquez down. He put a hand to the canvas and while he didn’t go down, he was clearly hurt. Blood started pouring from his nose, and it appeared to be broken. It was a very long 35 seconds to the end of the round. The war that Marquez had promised was coming to pass, and suddenly he was getting by far the worst of it.
Pacquiao didn’t finish Marquez off but it wasn’t for lack of effort. Referee Kenny Bayliss showed tremendous discipline letting the fighters go after each other until the round ended.
As round six got underway, Pacquiao knew Marquez was nearly finished, and looked for a way to finish him off. It was hard to figure out just how Marquez was staying on his feet, much less breathing with the blood pouring out of his nose. Then out of nowhere, literally in the final second of round six at 2:59, Marquez the counterpuncher saw the briefest glimpse of daylight. As Pacquiao was moving forward to finish him off, he walked straight into Marquez’s range, and Marquez unleashed the single most brutal right hook I have ever seen in 30 years of watching boxing.
The single punch caught everyone by surprise except Marquez. It dropped Pacquiao face down to the canvas, out cold and motionless. Exultation from Marquez and his fans was mixed with surprise, shock, and then concern for Pacquiao as he remained still and unresponsive.
Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee was distraught and wanted to move toward the ring. Promoter Bob Arum held her back, trying to calm her down.
Thankfully Pacquiao did sit up, and made it to his corner. At the conclusion of Marquez’s post fight interview, he walked over to his rival, and shook his hand. Marquez called Pacquiao “a great fighter.”
Pacquiao was taken to the University Medical Center in Las Vegas for a CT scan as a precaution. It was negative and he returned to his hotel room.
After the fight, Marquez (now 55-6-1, 40 KOs) said, “This victory is not only my victory - this victory is for the entire country of Mexico.” and added it was better late than never. “I want to thank all the Mexicans, all the Latinos who supported me in this fight.”
Marquez said he was happy he didn’t retire, which he considered after losing the decision to Pacquiao in 2011.
Marquez then amused press conference attendees by leading everyone in singing “Happy Birthday” to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who turned 81 on Saturday. The fight was quite a present for Arum, who counted Mitt Romney and his wife Ann among his guests for the fight at the MGM Grand Arena.
Pacquiao (now 54-5-2, 38 KOs) said he simply got careless. “I thought I had him. It’s not good. I was careless for the fight. I’m so overconfident, I thought I got him.”
Pacquiao viewed a replay of the knockout. As he watched it, he said, “I thought I got him and…” and then shrugged. “I just didn’t see his punches, I never expected his punches.”
In the post fight news conference, trainer Freddie Roach agreed that it was a simple mistake by Pacquiao; that he was fighting better than he had in years but got careless. “I thought he was fighting a great fight against a very strong opponent. I don’t believe in luck, but he walked into one. It happens. It was a good set-up, it was by design. It wasn’t a lucky punch.”
It was also a disappointing defeat for Roach, whose fighters have had a poor record in 2012. He called it tough, saying “I hate to lose. I’ve been on a bit of a bad run lately.”
Now the speculation begins over the plans of both fighters. Marquez said he would relax, talk with his family and see. Pacquiao indicated immediately that if Marquez wanted to give him chance at a rematch they would fight again. Trainer Freddie Roach said he didn’t think Manny would retire. He said he was fighting better than ever, he got careless and it wasn’t the first time he’d ever gotten knocked down. He acknowledged there would be work to do, but expects him back.
Pacquiao’s wife Jinkee may want to have some input on that decision. His mother Dionisia Pacquiao told GMA News in the Philippines she wanted her son Manny to retire from boxing and concentrate on politics.
Marquez’s stunning triumph achieved his goals and then some. He is now at the peak of his long career at age 39. He has two excellent options: He could go out on top. Or, he could seek one, perhaps two final big paydays for himself.
Could there be a Pacquiao-Marquez V? If so, it’s likely Pacquiao will have a tune-up fight before it’s even considered. As for Marquez, the names Floyd Mayweather, Timothy Bradley Jr., and Brandon Rios are being floated as opponents. Sergio Martinez was ringside for the fight and if he’s smart, he will steer clear of JuanMa.
Promoter Arum had mentioned Rios previously as an opponent for the winner tonight. Rios’s win over Mike Alvarado was the leading candidate for 2012 Fight of the Year until tonight. But now the idea of a fifth fight seems to appeal to Arum. “Why not? Have you seen a more exciting fight in years?” Two Fight of the Year victors facing off against each other sounds like a match made in boxing head heaven.
PROGRAM NOTE: HBO will air a replay of Pacquiao-Marquez IV on Saturday, December 15, at 9:30 p.m. Eastern. We will hold an encore Fight Night Communities chat for this bout as well as the Nonito Donaire bout the same evening.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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