By Joseph Herron – In an epic fourth meeting between two future Hall of Famers and current pound for pound fighters, Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Paquiao in the sixth round of their scheduled twelve round fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In one of the most exciting and memorable fights of 2012, JMM silenced his critics and cemented his legacy as an all-time great fighter by handing the Pac-Man and the general fight public a leading candidate for KO of the year.
The perfectly timed and short, compact right hook landed flush on the chin of Manny Pacquiao at the closing bell of the sixth round, when the soon to be 34 year old southpaw walked right into a punch that he never saw coming.
Until the “Coup de Grace” was delivered by JMM, Manny was winning the fight on every judges’ scorecard; with tallies of 47-46 x 3.
Pacquiao came into the fight with a masterful gameplan that was yielding success for the majority of the contest. Manny was getting the master counter puncher to fire his right hand first and then countering with the straight left by using feints and effective upper body movement.
Throughout the first two stanzas, Pacquiao implemented trainer Freddie Roach’s fight strategy of using sporadic right hooks and straight left hands while using short lateral movements to disrupt the timing and rhythm of Marquez.
But in round number three, Marquez finally floored the Filipino icon for the first time by launching a brutal overhand right that caught Pacquiao on the side of the head just above the final minute of the period. Although Manny was hurt by the punch, he made it out of the round and seemed to have his legs underneath him at the closing bell.
In the fourth, both men went back to their original form with Manny posing as the cautious aggressor and JMM as the patient counter puncher. The two warriors landed several hard shots as they used their great technical ability to dazzle the crowd in attendance.
In the first minute of the fifth stanza, Pacquaio landed a hard left hand that buckled Marquez which caused the Mexican great to touch the canvas with his left glove. Referee Kenny Bayless correctly called the wobble a knock-down and Marquez was back in action after the mandatory eight count.
Although JMM wasn’t seriously hurt with the flash knock-down, Manny was gaining confidence and began to connect with hard left hands regularly. In the final minute of the round, Pacquiao cracked Marquez with a hard right hand on the inside that hurt the 39 year old fighter and sent the Mexican fight veteran retreating into the ropes. Although Marquez made it to the fifth round bell, Pacquiao had enjoyed his most successful effort in the fight and was gaining momentum midway through the contest.
Little did anyone watching the fight realize that Pacquiao’s big two point round would ultimately prove to be his demise.
By flooring the proud Mexican fighter and staggering him late in the fifth, Pacquiao would gain a false sense of security and begin to get more comfortable lunging in with the straight left hand. Instead of continuing to bust up JMM with quick and sporadic single punches, Manny decided to resort back to firing recklessly in a straight line to finish the sixth round; just as he did in his previous three meetings with Marquez.
Unfortunately for Pacquiao, he wasn’t dealing with the same fighter who battled him to a controversial decision a little over a year ago. A much bigger and stronger version of Juan Manuel Marquez was slowly baiting him into a fire fight and patiently waiting for Manny to open up.
At the closing seconds of round number six, that’s exactly what transpired.
After landing several hard left hands to the bloody nose of JMM and winning 2 minutes and 58 seconds of the sixth round, Manny Pacquiao marched right into his worst nightmare in boxing: a devastating one-punch KO inflicted by the right hand of his nemesis.
It would be a massive understatement to describe seeing one of the best pound for pound fighters on the planet lying motionless with his face buried in the blood stained canvas as shocking.
Inconceivable would be more appropriate.
The third man in the ring, Kenny Bayless, didn’t even bother counting. As soon as he saw Manny crash to the canvas face first, the veteran referee waived off the bout, giving JMM his long awaited victory over eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
The sensational knock-out raises many new questions surrounding both fighters.
Will Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez choose to fight again…ever? Will both men decide to retire?
Top Rank was looking to pit Manny Pacquiao against Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios sometime in 2013. Does Bob Arum and company still follow through with the fight plan or does JMM suitably take Manny’s spot in that enticing, fan friendly match-up, assuming both men continue to fight?
Before this singular event, the fight public was also clamoring for an historic bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao…does the boxing world still want this fight after last night?
They should…now more than ever.
Most casual fight fans will ultimately come to the conclusion that if Mayweather dominated Marquez, and Marquez just brutally knocked out Pacquiao, then that logically would mean Mayweather would surely dominate the Pac-Man if the two ever met in the ring…right?
Wrong…Most long time “sweet science” aficianados know “Modus Tollens” unfortunately doesn’t apply in the world of boxing.
Styles make fights, and so do several other mitigating factors like size, speed, power, inactivity, confidence, mental and physical durability, et cetera…anything can and usually does happen in the theater of the unexpected.
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao would still be a very intriguing fight and the biggest attraction in boxing. But when has public opinion or conventional wisdom ever factored into a boxing promoter’s decision making?
If Golden Boy has their druthers, the fight won’t happen next year. Floyd is rumored to have his 2013 calendar filled with Robert Guerrero in May and Canelo Alvarez in September.
But as exciting as last night’s bout was, I wouldn’t mind seeing a fifth installment of Pacquiao versus Marquez. The ongoing score reads Pacquiao-2, Marquez-1, with 1 even.
The boxing world was honored to witness an incredible fourth battle between two all-time great fighters last night. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. Both men are a credit to the fight game and deserve heaps of praise for taking calculated risks in the ring last night.
Pacquiao and Marquez weren’t satisfied with merely showing up and making a huge payday. The two ring legends wanted to be great yesterday evening…and that’s exactly what they were.