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 to take on Ortiz; Pacquiao tune-up?

June 8, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

Just when I thought we’d never see him in the boxing ring again, Floyd Mayweather Jr has suddenly announced that he will take on WBC Welterweight title holder Victor Ortiz on 17 September 2011.

Bogged down by various legal dramas, the last thing I expected was for Mayweather to declare that he was ready to step back in the ring.  He hasn’t fought since defeating Shane Mosley in May 2010, meaning it will be a 16 month lay off for him.

Two ways to look at this.  The first is that Mayweather is needs money but doesn’t want to take on the man everyone wants to see him fight: Manny Pacquiao.

(I won’t go into the history of it all, but essentially negotiations between the two fighters have broken down twice already over additional drug testing procedures, and may or may not have broken down a third or fourth time according to Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum when Mayweather allegedly tried to price himself out by asking for $100 million.  Mayweather’s camp denied further negotiations ever took place, though third parties contradict this denial.  There is also the additional issue of Pacquiao suing Mayweather and his family for defamation for suggesting that Pacquiao is on performance enhancing drugs.)

Mayweather’s decision to take on Ortiz is a curious one because Arum has stated all along that if Mayweather comes to the table, he will be Pacquiao’s number one choice.  No one else matters.  This means that if Mayweather really wanted to fight Pacquiao all he had to do was pick up the phone after Pacquiao’s win over Mosley last month, and the fight would have been made already.

Instead, Mayweather waited until Pacquiao signed to fight Juan Manuel Marquez for a third time on 12 November 2011 before announcing a fight of his own.

More interestingly, Mayweather has refused to fight Pacquiao allegedly because of completely unsubstantiated PED accusations, and yet the man he has chosen to fight, Victor Ortiz, was recently implicated in PEDs by the man he had just beaten, Andre Berto.  Of course, Berto’s assertions were also completely unsubstantiated, but if his suspicions of Pacquiao were sufficient to destroy the megafight, then why not Ortiz too?

The second and more optimistic view is that Mayweather is taking on Ortiz as a tune up for Manny Pacquiao in 2012.  Mayweather undoubtedly will want to shake off some rust after the long lay off, and Ortiz just happens to be a young, strong stud AND a southpaw, something which Pacquiao is also.

I sure hope the second view is the right one and the potentially biggest fight of all time will happen next year!

The Matchup

Apart from Pacquiao, everyone just assumes that Mayweather will win no matter who he fights.  But Ortiz is a dangerous opponent, coming off a solid but close decision win against previously undefeated Andre Berto in April.  He has a strong 29-2-2 (22KOs) record and as mentioned above, is a southpaw, and Mayweather has tended to struggle more against southpaws.

Furthermore, Mayweather is now 34 years old and might be slowing down.  We won’t really know for sure until we see him in the ring, given how long it’s been, but it is possible.  On the other hand, Ortiz is just 24 and appears to have hit his prime after the brutal battle against Berto.

I’d still say the risks are low because of the experience and skill factors, but just like Marquez has a chance of unseating Pacquiao, Ortiz could also shock the world against Mayweather.  For the sake of Mayweather-Pacquiao happening next year, I hope both men can win.

PS: I mentioned in an earlier post the Marquez was to take on David Diaz as a tune up before Pacquiao, but this fight has fallen through because of financial considerations.

Pacquiao-Marquez III Locked In For November!

May 19, 2011 in Boxing, Sport

Promo pic taken for Pacquiao-Marquez II back in 2008

That was a surprise.  Just a couple of weeks after Manny Pacquiao thoroughly dismantled a pathetically timid Shane Mosley, Pacquiao’s promoter, Top Rank’s Bob Arum has announced that a deal has been reached with Mexican warrior Juan Manuel Marquez to take on Pacquiao on 12 November 2011, most likely at the MGM in Las Vegas.  All Pacquiao has to do is sign, and it assumed that he will.

With Floyd Mayweather Jr now looking more and more unlikely to never fight again, the Marquez fight was the one that most wanted Pacquiao to take instead of Mosley (Andre Berto, who has since lost, was the third alternative).  It made sense, considering Marquez was the last guy to give Pacquiao any real trouble in the ring.  In their two previous wars (May 2004 and March 2008), Marquez came away with a draw and a split decision loss despite being knocked down four times in the two bouts, though many ringsiders and boxing analysts believe Marquez won both fights.

However, Arum coaxed Pacquiao into accepting the easier and probably more lucrative option in the ageing legend Mosley, and Marquez was left to wait on the sidelines.  That said, even before the Mosley fight, there were rumours that Arum had made an offer to Marquez for Pacquiao’s next fight — rumours that turned out to be true.

Terms of the fight

The bout, scheduled for 12 November 2011 (probably at the MGM), will be for Pacquiao’s welterweight title, but it will be a catch weight bout at 144 pounds.

Marquez, idle since a November 2010 KO of Michael Katsidis, will take an interim fight on 2 July 2011 against David Diaz, the man Pacquiao beat the crap out of just before the De la Hoya fight.  Of course, if Marquez loses, the Pacquiao fight will be off.

Marquez gave Pacquiao all he could handle in their first two fights

Under the terms, Marquez will get a guaranteed $5 million for the bout, a percentage of PPV earnings over a certain amount, and a $10 guarantee for a rematch in the event Marquez wins.

Marquez’s own production company will promote the bout.  His promotional contract with De la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions expired earlier this year, even though Golden Boy had the right to match any offer given to Marquez.  Golden Boy declined to match Arum’s offer.

Seems to me Arum has planned all of this pretty well in sticking it to Golden Boy.  Arum and Golden Boy have had a horrible history, most of it stemming from the rights to promote Pacquiao, which Arum won and now controls.

Arum has been quite ruthless in keeping Pacquiao money away from Golden Boy since the Ricky Hatton fight.  Cotto and Margarito are both from Top Rank’s stable, and Clottey was not a Golden Boy fighter.  Shane Mosley used to be a part owner of Golden Boy, but gave it up to take on Pacquiao.  Now Marquez, a former Golden Boy man, will also go into the fight with nothing to do with them.

Early pre-fight analysis

Very interesting match up, at least on paper.  There are those out there who think Marquez will win this time because he appears to have ‘figured out’ Pacquiao’s style.

Pacquiao advisor Michael Koncz said: ‘It’s the same old story — styles make fights, and, for some reason, I believe if we fight Marquez 10 times, we will have controversy 10 times because he’s figured something out about Manny that no other fighter can do.  We’ve had him down three times [sic -- it was four], but he’s able to adapt and adjust. I think it will be a very close fight again if we decide to pick that fight.’

Pacquiao’s long-time trainer Freddie Roach said: ‘I’m a little bit scared of that fight.  I think Marquez might have our number.  He can do well with certain styles and he seems to do well with our style.  I think we’re bigger and better now, but that’s my good solution, that we’re bigger and better now.’

Having said all of that, Roach finished with: ‘I actually want this fight.  I love this fight.  I would love to shut them up.’

Pacquiao is 1-0-1 against Marquez

To be frank, notwithstanding all the supposed success Marquez has had with Pacquiao in the past (albeit being 0-1-1 on paper), I think this third time around will be a mismatch.  You can’t discount Marquez’s skills and heart, but my early instinct tells me Pacquiao could be the first to knock him out.

For me, the two biggest factors for this fight are: (1) it will be at 144 pounds; and (2) Pacquiao is a different fighter now to the one from 2005 and 2008.

The 144 pound catch weight is significant.  Pacquiao’s weight for his last few bouts have been: 145 (Mosley), 144.6 (Margarito), 145.75 (Clottey), 144 (Cotto).  In each of these fights Pacquiao apparently had to take extra meals to boost up his weight.  The last time Pacquiao fought below 140 was when he came in at 138 against Hatton for a junior welterweight fight.

On the other hand, Marquez’s weight for his last few fights: 134 (Katsidis), 133.5 (Diaz II), 142 (Mayweather), 134.25 (Diaz I), 135 (Casamayor).

What is telling about these weights is that Pacquiao has looked absolutely sensational at around 144, and if the extra meal before weigh-in reports are true, then 144 would be a perfect weight for Pacquiao to fight at.

On the other hand, with the exception of the Mayweather bout, Marquez came in at 135 or below for each of his last five bouts.  In the Mayweather fight, which Marquez lost in convincing fashion, he looked slow and flabby around the middle at just 142 pounds. (Marquez apparently had to drink his own urine just to get up to 142!)

The 144 catch weight is optimal for Pacquiao, and from the only instance we’ve seen, not very good for Marquez.  This is not necessarily fair, but Pacquiao is the big name here and should hold all the cards and the advantages.  That’s just the way it is.

This brings me to my second point: Pacquiao is a different fighter to the one that struggled against Marquez in 2005 and 2008.  Manny Pacquiao didn’t really become the Manny Pacquiao he is known as today until he made the jump to 140+ pounds.

Not only has he maintained his trademark speed from the lower weight classes (and arguably he has been even faster), Pacquiao now punches harder than he has ever punched, including enough power to KO Hatton with one punch, seriously hurt Cotto with another, and break Margarito’s orbital bone with a third.  Pacquiao has also become a more disciplined and more versatile than before, with an apparently steadier chin and a fortified defense.  Whereas before he was more of a reckless brawler (see video below), he is now technically sounder and knows how to follow Freddie Roach’s game plans to perfection.  Whereas before he was more of a one-handed fighter (with the left), he has now developed into a two-fisted punching machine.  Whereas before he was more of a predictable one-two puncher, he is now an unpredictable combo throwing machine that launches power shots from unorthodox angles.

The two fights against Marquez were 3 and 6 years ago, and were at 126 pounds (featherweight) and 130 pounds (super featherweight or junior lightweight).  Pacquiao will be a month shy of his 33rd birthday by the time the fight rolls around, whereas Marquez would have passed his 38th birthday.  Don’t forget Shane Mosley, who clearly slowed down a heap against Pacquiao, was 39 when he stepped into the ring a couple of weeks ago.

Besides, the two fights with Marquez were close fights, not outright robberies as some claim.  They were fights either fighter could have won, which is why they were controversial decisions.  And remember, one judge erroneously scored the first round 10-7 for Pacquiao instead of 10-6 (which is what should have been the score for a triple knockdown round), meaning that on paper, Pacquiao really should be 2-0 instead of 1-0-1 against Marquez.

If the two fights were close at 125 and 130 and when both fighters were 3 and 6 years younger, will they still be close now, at 144 pounds, and at the ages of 33 and 38?

Stylistically, Marquez could still pose problems for Pacquiao, but everything else points to a brutal beating.  If Pacquiao could take heavy blows from the likes of Cotto and Margarito on the chin, will Marquez’s punches still hurt him like they did before?  If Pacquiao’s punches could cause so much damage to De la Hoya, Hatton, Cotto and Margarito, would Marquez be able to take them like he did before?

Time will tell.

 
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