Pacquiao knocked out cold by Marquez!

December 9, 2012 in Boxing, Sport

Photo: Julie Jacobson/AP

What a fight, what a stunning KO! This was an outcome few people saw coming, but boy was it a glorious finale to a rivalry between two ultimate warriors. In their fourth and best fight, Juan Manuel Marquez KO’d Manny Pacquiao with a crushing right hand counter at full force that connected flush on the Filipino’s chin with a second left in the sixth round, sending Pacquiao crumpling to the canvas like a sack of potatoes. It was every bit as devastating as the Pacquiao punch that KO’d Ricky Hatton or the Sergio Martinez punch that KO’d Paul Williams. I’m not sure if there was a count but it didn’t matter because Pacquiao was out cold for several minutes afterwards, though fortunately he was eventually able to get up and congratulate his conqueror.

It was a remarkable action fight full of twists and turns. Pacquiao (who weighed in yesterday at the welter limit of 147 pounds) started out the aggressor and most probably took the first two rounds by landing more punches and more effective punches than Marquez (143 pounds). The lead left hand proved effective for Pacquiao while Marquez appeared willing to spend more time to figure things out, using body blows to try and slow his opponent down and set up power shots up top.

It turned out to be the right strategy for Marquez, as just when it appeared Pacquiao might start cruising to a points victory, Marquez turned the tables in the third round with a huge overhand right after a body feint than floored Pacquiao for the first time in their four fights. It was a demonstration of the kind of power that the “new” Marquez possessed at welterweight, and it showed that his muscles were not just for show.

Pacquiao got up and survived the round, and it seemed like Marquez might begin to overpower the Pac-man. But instead, Pacquiao was able to find his legs and gutted out a fourth round that could have gone either way.

In the fifth, Pacquiao grew even more aggressive and evened the tables with a straight left hand that struck Marquez on the chin, forcing the Mexican to land his glove on the floor. The knockdown was not a devastating one but it showed that Pacquiao still carried some sting in his punches. As expected, Marquez came back valiantly with some big blows of his own, until Pacquiao unleashed a punishing right hook that clearly hurt him. This time, it was Marquez that had to hang on until the end of the round, and to his credit he did so fighting out of the corners.

Things looked great for Pacquiao for most of the sixth round as he busted up Marquez’s face with more sharp punches, widening the gap on the Compubox scores (which Pacquiao dominated 94 at 37% to 52 to 21%). He appeared to be hurting his opponent and even prompted suggestions that he might finish Marquez off soon.

But I don’t think it was a lucky punch that turned out the lights for Pacquiao because Marquez had clearly been timing that right hand counter all night, and he just happened to land it perfectly. Pacquiao was getting confident and perhaps a little careless, and it was obvious he was trying to finish off the sixth round on a strong note. And so when Pacquiao lunged forward with a right hand with a second left in the round it played right into Marquez’s hands. The Mexican warrior craftily evaded the blow and launched a beautiful right hand that connected right on the button – from behind you could see the crushing force jolt Pacquiao’s cranium. He collapsed face first to the canvas and seconds later Marquez was celebrating on the corner post.

What a sensational, action packed fight. No matter who you were going for, you have to admire the skills and hearts of the two fighters.  It certainly lends credibility to the argument that Marquez is the better fighter and has been all along, or at least the suggestion that Marquez is Pacquiao’s kryptonite.

I’d prefer to see the two of them fight someone else now or retire. In the aftermath of the KO there were immediate rumblings about a fifth fight, but I think Marquez has nothing left to prove against Pacquiao. Yes, Pacquiao was winning the fight up to that point (leading 47-46 on all three scorecards and probably would have gotten the sixth round too had the fight not ended there) and had hurt Marquez, but that KO was a perfect ending to their rivalry — there could not have been a more definitive conclusion after so many close fights. If they keep fighting, when will it ever end?

This whole time boxing fans were thinking Floyd Mayweather Jr was Pacquiao’s fated rival but as it turned out Marquez held that role all along. I guess now we will never see Mayweather-Pacquiao, but at the same time I don’t think too many people care anymore after being jerked around for so many years. Pacquiao said immediately after the fight that he is not going to retire and is going to come back, but I think it’s a good time for him to hang up the gloves. No shame in going out on a punch like that from an opponent like Marquez. But on the other hand, if they fight again, I’m pretty sure I’ll be watching.

As for me, I was wrong again in my prediction. From now on I’m going to live like this guy.

Mayweather KOs Ortiz in shocking fashion!

September 18, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

Al Bello/Getty Images

[Update: Analysis updated below]

I haven’t had a chance to watch the fight again, but what just happened was crazy.  Floyd Mayweather Jr just KOed Victor Ortiz in the fourth round of their WBC Welterweight title fight with a left-right combo many perceived to be cheap or even sucker punches.

Mayweather had won the first three rounds against Victor Ortiz  (at least two of the three, anyway), and towards the end of the fourth Ortiz finally put together a decent string of punches and pinned Mayweather in the corner.  Perhaps frustrated that he couldn’t do any serious damage, Ortiz launched an obvious and clearly illegal head butt at Mayweather, which led to a point deduction from referee Joe Cortez.

Ortiz apologised to Mayweather several times (including a hug and a kiss on the cheek) and the two ended up in the centre of the ring.  While Cortez was still talking to the ringside officials, Ortiz again went to Mayweather to touch gloves, and then went in and gave him a another little hug near the centre of the ring.  When Ortiz pulled back, Mayweather immediately assaulted him with a hard left, then added a punishing right hand that landed flush on Ortiz’s jaw.  Ortiz never saw the punch coming (he appeared to be looking at Cortez, or at the very least he was still trying to apologise), and neither did Cortez, who was still communicating with the ringside officials when both punches connected.  Nevertheless, Ortiz was struggled to get up and was counted out.

Boos showered the ring and in the post fight interview Mayweather refused to answer HBO interviewer Larry Merchant’s questions about the perceived cheap shot.  When pressed, Mayweather exploded into a tirade and said that HBO ought to fire Merchant.  He also said “you don’t know shit about boxing”, “you ain’t shit” and “you’re not shit” in Merchant’s face, before trying to turn away.  Merchant said he wished he were 50 years younger so he could kick Mayweather’s ass.

Perhaps even stranger than the KO itself and Mayweather’s reaction was Ortiz’s — he seemed kind of content about the whole thing, smiling, saying that one could look at it in two ways (ie, dirty or not dirty) and that it was a learning experience for him.

I will post more detailed thoughts on this after rewatching the fight, but my initial reaction is that Ortiz has no one to blame but himself.  He threw the head butt that landed put him in the predicament in the first place.  He was the one that tried to apologise too much AND dish out a hug, which was not necessary.  Cortez had re-engaged the boxers when the punches landed (even though he was still talking to ringside officials).  And they always say, “Protect yourself at all times.”  Was it a cheap shot?  Probably.  But it was legal.  However, from a publicity perspective, it can’t be good for Floyd’s already crumbling image.

More to come.  In the meantime, check out this YouTube replay of the KO while it still lasts.

[Update: as expected, the video has been taken down from YouTube]

Updated Analysis

Okay, I’ve now had time to watch a replay of the fight.

Ortiz was clearly the bigger guy (he was at the 147 limit at weigh-in but came into ring at 164, while Mayweather weighed 146.5 and came in at 150 — so a massive 14 pound difference!) but he didn’t really fight like one.  From the outset, Mayweather seemed like the sharper, more focused fighter, while Ortiz was more plodding and looking to land wild punches.

I wouldn’t say Mayweather ‘dominated’ the first two rounds but he did enough to win them in my book.  The straight right hand was his best punch and he connected them several times against Ortiz’s head.  The third round was a clear Mayweather round as he tagged Ortiz numerous times and evaded most of Ortiz’s big swings.  Ortiz never looked hurt or anything but he just didn’t appear to be on par with Mayweather either in terms of technical ability, speed or defense.

I was particularly amazed that Mayweather did not back away from Ortiz at all, and at times was even backing Ortiz up.  On the other hand, Ortiz didn’t try and impose his size on Mayweather like I thought he would, and he very rarely went to the body.

The fourth round was all Mayweather from the start, but Ortiz kept throwing and eventually landed a few of his own.  Mayweather shook his head as if to inform Ortiz that they didn’t hurt him.  Then, with about 20 seconds left in the round, Ortiz caught Mayweather with a good shot, which sent Mayweather retreating along the ropes.  Ortiz followed and pinned Mayweather in the corner but most of his power blows were either dodged or deflected.  Frustrated, Ortiz threw a silly (because it was so obvious) intentional head butt that cut Mayweather’s bottom lip.

Referee Joe Cortez stepped in and called time immediately.  While he tried to make a ruling Ortiz went up to Mayweather to apologise, hugging him and even pecking him on the cheek (not sure if the kiss connected though).  Cortez pulled Ortiz away and signalled a point deduction and said to him, “Don’t be doing that!”  Cortez could then be heard to say, “Let’s go,” and signalled time on, but he continued to look towards ringside as Ortiz and Mayweather made their way to the centre of the ring and Ortiz initiated a glove touch and another hug.

As Ortiz stepped back from the semi-embrace (Mayweather appeared to be pushing him a little), and while Cortez was still communicating with ringside, Mayweather threw a left hook that landed clean.  Ortiz may have been looking at Cortez when that hook landed, but he was definitely looking Cortez’s way when Mayweather followed up with a vicious right straight hand that knocked Ortiz off his feet and into the corner.

Cortez didn’t seem to process what had happened until Ortiz was already on the ground, but he proceeded to count anyway.  Ortiz never really looked like he was going to make it, and sure enough, the count reached 10 and the fight was officially over at 2:59 in the fourth round!

The crowd went nuts and there was confusion all round, including from the commentators.  Ortiz got up and sat down in the corner, and Floyd went over and the two exchanged words.  Ortiz smiled at whatever Mayweather said, completely unlike someone who just got KOed by two cheap shots.

Mayweather was announced the winner (now 42-0 with 26 KOs) and Larry Merchant entered to interview him.  The largely pro-Ortiz crowd (despite the fight being in Mayweather’s home town of Las Vegas), having seen the replay a couple of times by now, was booing loudly as Merchant asked Mayweather about the controversial ending.

Instead of answering the questions, Mayweather (who made $25+ million) said whatever he wanted, thanking God, thanking the audience and PPV customers.  They then watched the replay together and Mayweather said that fighters are supposed to protect themselves at all times, that it was not about what Ortiz did dirty or what he did dirty, and that if Ortiz wants a rematch he can have one.

The 80-year-old Merchant continued to press on, at which time an agitated Mayweather got into his face and said, “You never give me a fair shake…HBO needs to fire you!  You know shit about boxing!  You ain’t shit!  You’re not shit!”

Merchant responded with, “I wish I was 50 years younger and I’d kick your ass!”

(This really happened — I’m not making any of this up.  The funniest thing was watching Leonard Ellerbe, one of Floyd’s “yes men” who is clearly deeply in love with him, sticking his fat head in and adding comments like, “You heard him!”)

Floyd and his entourage left the interview, and a smiling Merchant turned to a smiling Ortiz (now 29-3-2), whose face was swelling up under the eyes.  Seriously, if I had just tuned in, I would have thought Ortiz had won the fight judging from the smile on his face.  He did not look like a man disappointed after a somewhat dodgy KO.

When questioned, Ortiz said it wasn’t his fault, the ref called a break and he did exactly as he was told, but when he looked up, “Boom!” and he was out.

Regarding the head butt, Ortiz made up some lame excuse about it not being intentional.  When they watched the KO again, Ortiz said, “It’s okay,” and when Merchant asked him what he thought of the controversial ending he said, “You could look at it two ways.  At the end of the day, you know what?  I came out here to show the fans a good time and as far as I’m concerned I think they did have a good time, except for that little miscommunication there by the ref.  But hey, it happens.  I’m not perfect, no one is, and neither is the ref.  So I have no one to blame for it.  It’s a learning experience.”

The public reaction has been mixed.  The anti-Mayweather fans labelled the KO punches cheap shots and sucker punchers and used it to back up their assertion that Mayweather is classless.  Everyone else agrees that it was a legal blow and it was Ortiz’s fault for not protecting himself at all times.

I’m far from a Floyd fan (I appreciate his ability though) but I have to agree with the sentiment of the latter.  Ortiz definitely did a stupid thing there with the intentional head butt, which clearly angered Floyd, who looked like he was ready to take his game up another notch.  You could see it in his eyes as soon as Cortez called time on.  Ortiz, perhaps still embarrassed by what he did (how else could you explain the excessive apologising?), left himself wide open, and Floyd took advantage.  It wasn’t classy but it was within the rules, and besides, Ortiz was the one that resorted to cheap tactics first.

Perhaps this later quote from Ortiz summed up how he felt.  ”I apologised to [Mayweather] after the fight as well.  It was in the heat of the moment.  In a sense, it was a payback.”

I have to say I’m disappointed in Ortiz (who came away with a cool $2+ million for 12 minutes of action)– not for the head butt, but for the way he reacted after the loss.  It was as though he had secretly expected it all along and it didn’t even sting to be KOed in that fashion.  Perhaps he knew he was being outclassed and thought that going out in this controversial manner was better than being pummelled for the rest of the fight.

Now, all we have to do is wait for Pacquiao vs Marquez III in November, and hopefully if Pacquiao wins we can start looking forward to Mayweather-Pacquiao in 2012.   According to Pacquiao in recent interviews, random blood testing is no longer an issue, so barring any unforeseen circumstances this fight will finally happen!

Anthony Mundine KO’ed by Contender Winner Garth Wood!

December 8, 2010 in Boxing

Garth Wood makes love to the corner post after KOing Anthony Mundine in the fifth round (Source: The Australian)

For the five or six people out there that care about Australian boxing, local loudmouth Anthony “The Man” Mundine was knocked out in the fifth round against Contender Australia winner Garth Wood in a massive middleweight upset.

The 35 year-old Mundine (now 40-4, 24 KOs) talked a lot of trash before the bout against the 32 year-old Wood (now 10-1-1, 6KOs), saying that nobody could beat him when he is focused and on his game and that there was too much of a disparity in ability and experience between him and his rival (who also once played professional rugby league).

However, in an ugly fight marred by lots of grabbing and holding, Mundine was unable to utilise his superior hand and foot speed, allowing Wood to pin him against the ropes too often.  In the fifth round, with Mundine wedged in the corner, Wood unleashed a flurry of wild punches, one of which tagged Mundine to the side of the head and dropped him to the canvas.  Mundine looked dazed and confused as he gingerly made his way to his feet, but the fight was waved off as an ecstatic Wood celebrated in the ring.

The devastating loss has thrown Mundine’s plans for “greatness” into chaos.  Before the bout, Mundine declared to the world that he was soon heading over to the United States (on advice from his buddy Russell Crowe) to fulfil his destiny (or fantasy) of becoming one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and the first boxer to win world titles in three weight classes in descending order.  Of course, he also talked about taking on the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr in big money fights — ideas that were difficult to fathom even before he was KO’ed by a virtual no-name with just 10 fights under his belt.

In Australia, where Mundine is generally hated, the public sentiment is mainly one of jubilation.  Some say Wood has exposed Mundine as an overrated fighter who has built a career out of handpicking worthless opponents.  Others are calling for Wood to be made Australian of the Year for shutting Mundine’s mouth and possibly ending “The Man’s” boxing career.

(For those who don’t know who Mundine is, he is a former rugby league star and Australia’s most famous boxer, probably best known outside the country for his controversial comments about 9/11 (about how America kind of brought it on themselves).  Boxing fans might also know him as the guy who beat the guy who KO’ed an old Roy Jones Jr in one round (ie Danny Green), or as the dude that got knocked out cold by feather fisted Sven Ottke (6KOs from 34 career victories) with also a single blow to the temple.  Mundine’s loss to Wood will only solidify his reputation as a fighter with a “glass head”.)

Pacquiao demolishes Hatton in 2 Rounds, eyes Mayweather Jr!

May 3, 2009 in Boxing

Pacquiao flattens Hatton in just 2 rounds

Pacquiao flattens Hatton in just 2 rounds

I still can’t believe it.

Just hours after I posted a prediction that Manny Pacquiao would beat Ricky Hatton by an unanimous decision, the Filipino national hero proved once again why he’s the number 1 pound-four-pound fighter in the world by absolutely annihilating Ricky Hatton in 2 rounds in Las Vegas.  As at the time of this post, an almost-full video of the fight could be found on YouTube, but rest assured it will be taken down, though I’m sure there will be other resources available online if you know where to look.

The easy victory sets up a salivating bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr (son of Hatton’s trainer), who unsurprisingly announced his return to boxing on the same day (after prematurely retiring following his 10th round KO of Hatton in December 2007) to “reclaim what’s mine”.  Mayweather Jr will fight lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez, the man who gave Pacquiao all he could handle, on 18 July 2009, with a view to squaring off with Pacquiao before the end of the year.

Fight action

The Pacquiao/Hatton fight is well worth seeing because it was brutal and spectacular, though probably not worth buying through PPV because it only lasted 2 rounds (and the undercards were apparently crap).

The bout started off with Hatton trying his usual rough tactics, trying to force Pacquiao into the ropes and clinching whenever he got a chance.  He was actually quite successful in the first minute or so of the fight in that regard, but it didn’t have any material effect on Pacquiao, who was sticking to his game plan, throwing lightning quick combos and getting out of the way whenever he sensed danger.  The most effective punch in the first 90 seconds of the round was Pacquiao’s right hook, which had landed flush several times already.

In the second half of the first round, Pacquiao started unloading some big hooks on Hatton and had him on the ropes.  And then, with just under a minute left in the round, Pacquiao lands a big right hook just as Hatton was about to swing, and Hatton drops to his knees.  Hatton manages to get up at the count of 8, but then continues to get thumped by lightning quick combinations for the rest of the round until with less than 10 seconds to go, when Pacquiao landed a stunning straight left that drops Hatton again, flat on his back in the corner.  He manages to get up and survive the round, but the stunned expression on Hatton’s face said it all.

Pacquiao landed against Hatton almost at will

Pacquiao landed against Hatton almost at will

Hatton begins the second round trying to be aggressive, throwing big punches that mostly missed the mark, then tying up Pacquiao and throwing punches during the clinch.  On the other hand, Pacquiao remained calm, throwing quick, precise punches and spinning and turning out of the way whenever Hatton tried to unload.  Then about 30 seconds in, Pacquiao starts to throw some big punches of his own, and actually gets caught by a left hook from Hatton, who continues to clinch and punch.  With about 40 seconds to go in the round, Pacquiao starts throwing some wild punches to try and KO Hatton but without success.  However, he eventually goes back to the precision-style boxing that had worked so well for him, and with 8 seconds left in Round 2, Pacquiao unleashes a devastating left counter hook that lands square on Hatton’s jaw.  Hatton drops like a puppet with its strings cut, and one quick look from the referee was all it took for him to wave off the fight without a count.

Hatton is carried out on a stretcher while Pacquiao celebrates.

Analysis

I’m usually pretty terrible when it comes to predictions (of any kind) so I’m not surprised that I got it wrong.  At least I got the winner right!  Most people who predicted a Pacquiao victory thought it would happen in the later rounds, not in Round 2.  I don’t think anyone predicted it to be this easy for Pacquiao.  Even ESPN’s Fight Night Round 4 simulation had Pacquiao climbing off the canvas to win by KO in round 11.  As it turns out, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach was probably closest when he predicted a KO victory in the third round (but he later admitted he was just trying to get under Floyd Mayweather Sr’s skin).

For those that thought Pacquiao was devastating against Oscar De La Hoya, they need to see this fight.  Against Hatton, Pacquiao had a slightly different game plan, but it was equally effective.  He maintained his precision boxing with rapid hand speed and footwork, but also mixed in some power hooks.  Hatton had no idea what was coming.  Many people thought perhaps Manny would underestimate Ricky, but it turned out to be the other way around.  Hatton simply had no answer for Pacquiao’s speed and precision.  There was also little of that head movement and improved defence that Floyd Mayweather Sr was talking about before the fight.  Or maybe it was because Pacquiao was just too fast for him.  Further, even though Hatton was perhaps physically stronger, Pacquiao’s punches seemed to be much heavier.

“I’m surprised the fight was so easy,” Pacquiao said after the fight. “He was wide open for the right hook. I knew he would be looking for my left.”

Freddie Roach, on the other hand, made it seem like he knew the outcome from the start.  “The fight was no surprise to me.  We know he always pumps his hands before he throws a punch. He’s a sucker for the right hook.”

For the bout, Pacquiao landed 73 of 127 punches (57.4%), whereas Hatton only managed to connect on 18 of 78 punches (23.1%).

Aftermath

Fortunately, Hatton was not badly hurt.  He was taken to the hospital as a precaution but didn’t appear to suffer any serious injuries. “It was a hard loss but I’m okay,” he said. “I really didn’t see the punch coming but it was a great shot. I know I’ll be okay.”  He should be, after earning $8 million for the fight.

So it seems Hatton, as humiliating as the loss was, will not be seeking retirement.  On the other hand, what does the future hold for his new trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr?  They had one decent showing together in Hatton’s fight against Malignaggi, but this performance against Pacquiao demonstrated very little, if any, noticeable improvement.  If the rumors of a rift between the two before the fight had any truth to them, chances are you won’t see Mayweather Sr in Hatton’s corner again.

Floyd Jr's back, but will he reget it when he faces Pacquiao?

Floyd Jr's back, but will he reget it when he faces Pacquiao?

As for Manny Pacquiao, who earned $12 million for the bout, the sky is the limit.  The only logical fight for him now is Floyd Mayweather Jr, and if it comes to fruition, will be the biggest fight in boxing in years.  The current pound-for-pound champion against the undefeated guy who handed him that mythical title by retiring prematurely.  However, one must not overlook Mayweather Jr’s July 18 bout against Juan Manuel Marquez, who is about as dangerous of an opponent as you can get for a return/tune-up fight.  If Mayweather Jr shows any rust or loses the form he once had, there is a chance JMM might shock him back into retirement.

Then again, this is Floyd Mayweather Jr we’re talking about (and JMM is moving up in 2 weight classes), so in all likelihood we’ll get to see the Pacquiao/Mayweather fight in December 2009.  I hope so.  At this point in time, it’s hard to predict a winner.  Do you go with the in-form, two-fisted fighting machine that is Manny Pacquiao, or the undefeated technican and defensive genius in Floyd Mayweather Jr?  It’s a difficult fight to pick, but at least with Manny Pacquiao you can be sure that it’ll be an exciting fight.

And make no mistake, the crowd will be on Pacquiao’s side when they get into the ring.  In the press conference announcing his return, the Pretty Boy showed the same cockiness and arrogance that I’m sure will make many boxing fans root for the humble Pacquiao. “I guess I just missed boxing,” Mayweather said. “Somebody’s got to keep the sport up and running. Why not me?”  Mmm, it seemed to me that Manny Pacquiao had been keeping the sport up and running pretty well without him.  Mayweather also proclaimed: “I’m still the biggest draw in boxing.  Everybody wants to fight me because they know I’m the cash cow.”  Does Mayweather honestly believe that he, and not Pacquiao, is the biggest draw in boxing right now?

If there is a God, please let this fight happen!

 
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