By Marc Livitz: Rest assured and let there be no confusion in regards to the highly anticipated yet not totally appreciated mega fight which is set to take place this Saturday evening at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. There will be a Pacquiao versus Marquez V. And VI, VII, VIII and so on. While this idea is likely to be nothing more than figurative, the bickering amongst the dedicated faithful of the respective sides are likely to verbally squabble for many years to come. Manny Pacquiao believes he won and Juan Manuel Marquez knows that he won.
Of course, there’s been three superbly contested matches between the two combatants since 2004, yet the razor thin margins which have separated the incendiary results have less to do with the actual outcome than they do with the acknowledgement that popular culture found its way into the pugilistic mindset.
Consider this: The Nevada Athletic Commission easily makes available the totals and figures tallied at boxing events staged within its borders. Without looking, most boxing fans are well aware that the May 2007 bout between Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr was the most lucrative night for the fighting sport. Of the three contests staged between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, only the third one, which took place in November of last year even cracks the top 30. However, marketing strategists and eager promotional posses often make the most serendipitous of bedfellows.
When the initial bout between the two legends is referenced, whether on the Pay-Per-View informercial, HBO’s “24/7” (which is actually a well laid out informercial in and of itself) or even on either side of Monday’s water cooler, lost is the possibility that that many fans did not actually have the fight broadcast live across their television screens on the evening of May 8, 2004.
For many, it flew under the radar because much of the talk was geared more toward the event which transpired one week later, across the street and down the Las Vegas strip from the MGM. That was the second fight between Roy Jones, Jr. and Antonio Tarver, which had basically every meaningful title in the light heavyweight division on the line. Much like long since departed musicians have notched their way into immortality thanks to popular culture, the same may be suggested for Pacquiao/Marquez I.
The Filipino Congressman we know today was a skinny, heavy one handed whirlwind at one hundred twenty five pounds. He was fighting for just the sixth time in the United States. Marquez, by contrast was no stranger to the west, yet he was fighting so very hard to be rightfully distinguished from his Mexican counterparts of the day, a certain Marco Antonio Barrera and a particular Erik Morales.
As for the fight itself, at least on paper the commendable decision making by referee Joe Cortez saved “Dinamita” Marquez from a three knockdown “Coup de Grâce”. Additionally, the slight error in ringside judging by Mr. Burt Clements allowed the fight to end in a draw and for us to still be sitting here today and chatting over who really won. Marquez went on a bit of a tear afterwards and was seemingly robbed yet again when he faced Chris John in Indonesia.
It’s the second fight that really got people talking. Some feel that Pacquiao’s subsequent meteoric rise to boxing stardom was in part thanks to poor judging with Marquez as the party thrown under the bus. Resentment continues to run rampant to this very day. One silly point made the difference once again, much as it did in 2004. Only this time, Marquez really had a gripe and bone to pick.
Still, as was the case in their first meeting, a knockdown or multiple knockdowns perhaps made the difference. Most boxing journalistas agree that the bout was another draw or the narrowest of wins for either man. Their third fight, which was just about a year ago had many in the MGM crowd testing properties of flight as they hurled their snacks and beer bottles towards the arena floor when Pacquiao was awarded (or many say gifted) a majority decision victory. Another close one.
Saturday night may be no different and there still is likely to be disgruntled parties. Rightfully so, many feel the rivalry is 3-0, 2-1, 1-1-1, 0-2-1 or whatever the case might be. Hopefully, popular culture, generosity or the like will not influence the eyes of the judges.
The fact that Marquez had had it rough in his bouts with the “Pac Man” should weigh no more on their minds than the disgusting and brazen robbery committed against Pacquiao last summer in his one sided thumping of Timothy Bradley.
It is what it is and we are where we are.
Watch fights one, two and three. Once with the sound on and another with the TV on mute. Maybe the result will be different and this in itself has made the trilogy the classic that it is. Kick the nostalgia out of it and judge for yourself…again…and again. Chances are someone will be upset on Saturday night and it’s likely to be the gentleman who hails from a country previously ruled by Spain.
We’re being treated to some incredible boxing lore and it’s best not to dissect it any more than we already have. Everyone won’t be pleased, but boxing won’t suffer for it. No need to experience death by a thousand cuts.