Pacquiao Defeats Marquez in Controversial Classic
WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) won a narrow, unpopular majority decision over lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KOs) last night in Las Vegas.
Unlike their first two encounters, both men were more cautious and tactical in their third meeting but the fight was a classic nonetheless.
Juan Manuel Marquez, the 9-1 underdog, looked anything but the small, slow, over-the-hill fighter some experts thought we'd see. From the onset, Marquez appeared focused and ready and, after Round 5, it became increasingly clear he'd had done his homework and was well-prepared for this assignment.
The two legends traded exchanges and went-toe-to-toe in spurts. And while Pacquiao was the aggressor and the busier fighter, Marquez countered extremely effectively to the Filipino's head and body.
Pacquiao, who wasn't with out moments of brilliance himself, used his superior hand-speed to land punches in bunches early on and appeared to win two of the first three rounds. The Filipino also finished strong, arguably winning at least two of the last three rounds, as Marquez appeared to be protecting his perceived lead. While Pacquiao started and finished well, the middle rounds rounds (4-9) proved problematic for the champion as Marquez worked off a good, hard jab and rocked the Filipino with dazzling uppercuts and straight right hands.
Action in the middle rounds swayed back and forth as Marquez didn't tire as many had predicted. The Mexican matched Pacquiao step-for-step and punch-for-punch and had the shorter Pacquiao reaching and missing wildly.
While the aggressive Pacquiao never appeared in danger of getting knocked out or floored, Marquez' stunned him a few times and repeatedly snapped Pacquiao's head back with crisp blows.
In the end, scores were 114-114, 115-113, 116-112.
Official fight statistics from CompuBox, a program that counts and categorizes punches in boxing matches, showed Manny Pacquiao threw and landed more punches and connected on more powershots. According to CompuBox, Pacquiao threw more shots (578) than Marquez (435) and connected with 176 punches (30%), while Marquez landed 138 (32%). Pacquiao edged Marquez in power punches, connecting on 117 of 274 attempts or 43%, while Marquez connected on 100 of 254 power punches thrown or 39%. Per round, Pacquiao threw 49 punches and landed 14, while Marquez threw 36 punches and landed 11.
Despite CompuBox scoring, the decision was met with resounding boos from ring spectators and widespread criticism from fans who watched on television. Although Pacquiao out-landed Marquez, Marquez's punches rattled his foe and appeared more flush and authoritative. Marquez's punches were also more eye-catching, drawing more "ooohs" from those in attendance.
In addition to the excellent counter-punching, Marquez wasn't flailing like Pacquiao and gave the impression of the stronger, more comfortable fighter - especially in the middle rounds.
Nacho Beristain, Marquez's manager, called it "a robbery of the utmost."
"I was robbed," Marquez said. "It happened again. I don't think there is much more I can do in the ring."
Bob Arum, Pacquiao's promoter, said he asked Pacquiao if he won, and Pacquiao said, "Yes, it was clear. I blocked a lot of his punches.. If he wants a rematch, he'll get it."
"I'm bound and determined to find a definitive winner from these two," said Arum. "If we can get both fighters to agree, we'll put it on May 5."
Lost in the scoring controversy is something, unlike the result, most viewers can agree on - Pacquiao and Marquez gave us another classic.
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