11.05.04 - By Matthew Hurley - Two minutes into the featherweight championship bout between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao it looked to be all over for the IBF and WBA champion Marquez. The buzz saw from the Philippines looked to overwhelm his more tactical opponent and was doing just that. After a first surprise knockdown the ferocious Pacquiao swarmed all over Marquez knocking him down twice more and breaking his nose with a snapping straight left hand. Then something happened. Marquez, a long under appreciated fighter who has toiled in the looming shadows of his countrymen, Eric Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera, seized his first real moment in the sun and turned an apparent blowout into an early candidate for fight of the year.
Article posted on 11.05.2004
What became noticeable as this pitched battle wore on was that Pacquiao, despite his tenacity and amazing endurance, is something of a one trick pony in regards to his arsenal. In spite of all his upper body movement and punching power Marquez revealed that once Pacquiao is forced back on his heels he becomes vulnerable. He squares himself up and is open for a straight right hand, which is exactly the weapon Marquez used to escape from the nightmare of the first round. Once Marquez was able to time Pacquiao’s best weapon, his straight left, the match became the “pick ‘em” that many boxing insiders believed it would be.
Marquez’s biggest mistake was one he made early and one he paid for dearly. Instead of establishing his jab and counter punching as is his style he attempted to prove that he was the bigger, stronger fighter. It nearly got him knocked out of the ring. In spite of his one dimensional style Pacquiao is without a doubt one of the hardest punchers in boxing and because he throws punches in bunches any fighter attempting to trade with him is going to eventually taste his power. Marquez made that mistake and it dropped him into a deep hole on the judges scorecards.
As the fight wore on Marquez battled his way back against the Filipino spitfire and slowly climbed back into the fight. Going into this bout Pacquiao was coming off his total destruction of Marco Antonio Barrera and hoped to march right through Marquez into a mega battle with Eric Morales. As commentator Larry Merchant said before the fight, “Call this the second leg of boxing’s triple crown.” But Manny’s trainer, the quietly astute Freddie Roach, remarked in regards to Marquez, “Style wise, he is definitely the most trouble because of his counter punching style.” Round after round Roach tried to impress upon Pacquiao to only move forward. Many of the rounds he lost were when he either backed up or simply bounced on his toes without throwing any punches. Emanuael Steward commented on that during the broadcast. “It may look as though he’s boxing, but he’s not really boxing.” In plain speak, he wasn’t doing anything. Those lulls pulled the fight even.
Still, a triple knockdown in one round had put Pacquiao so far ahead out of the gate that he seemed to be a close victor at the final bell. But the judges scorecards came back a draw (155-110 for Pacquaio, 155-110 for Marquez and 113-113). In light of Marquez’s dramatic comeback a draw seemed justified. It also begged for a rematch.
In the aftermath of the descion neither fighter seemed too willing to do it again. Both believed they had won and were disappointed with the result, but look for them to enter the ring against one another again. The fight was just too good to lack a proper conclusion. Much like the first Morales vs. Barrera showdown we may have a terrific rivalry on our hands.
Whatever happens Manny Pacquiao, a national hero in his homeland, is now a bonafide star. His exciting style and endearing smile and personality have put him over the top. He has the potential to become that rarest of boxing commodities – a crossover star. As for Juan Manuel Marquez, he has finally emerged from the shadows and joined the elite of the little big men. He can no longer be ignored. If a rematch doesn’t happen right away look for either one of these two terrific fighters to step into the ring with Eric Morales. And it says here that when that happens the thrilling Marquez – Pacquiao battle will have competitor for fight of the year.
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