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17 DECEMBER 2014

 

Pacquiao’s Win: Justified or Robbery?




Did Marquez get screwed a third time and what about Mayweather?

By Mike Sloan: For a fight as close as they come, one that easily could have gone to either man, the official result of Manny Pacquiao’s majority decision win over rival Juan Manuel Marquez has raised quite an uproar. Some 24 hours after the Filipino superstar’s hand was raised in victory, there remains some incendiary embers underneath the ashes of the immediate fallout from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

More so than their epic first two battles, the outcry and backlash from a sizeable majority of the boxing media (and fans alike) is much louder and more passionate this time around. The funny thing is, though, that the battle from last night was arguably the most evenly-contested of the trilogy.

In their initial duel back in May 2004, Pacquiao had the fight won in the first round when he thrice dropped Marquez. However, once the Mexican legend recovered his equilibrium and figured out the wild onslaught from Pacquiao, he thoroughly flummoxed and largely out-classed him for the duration of the contest. Had that opening frame unraveled differently, Marquez would have coasted to a lopsided unanimous decision. The battle was declared a draw, though a sizeable portion of the media and fans felt Marquez did enough to win yet there wasn’t a full-fledged witch hunt for the judges. Marquez was felled three times in one round, after all, and those lost points were massive.

Fast forward four years and Marquez was dropped only once in their rematch, but even though Pacquiao displayed a better overall game, he was perplexed for the bulk of the twelve rounds and couldn’t avoid the Mexican’s perfect counter right hands. It’s arguable that had Pacquiao been born without a slab of marble for a jaw and skull, Marquez probably would have stopped him on a few occasions in the bout. Be that as it may, Marquez never was able to knock down or drag “Pac Man” into serious peril, but he did more than enough damage in the fight and won the majority of the rounds. Again he had what seemed like a sure victory snatched from his clutches and the fight was declared a split decision for Pacquiao.

The uproar for the official tally was negative and somewhat vocal, but it wasn’t loud enough or full of enough vitriol to warrant an immediate rematch when it should have. And why wasn’t it? The two tiny giants had just staged a second all-time war and the man who should have won for the second time against Pacquiao walked out of the Mandalay Bay Events Center with a giant goose egg in the win column.

Still, shenanigans weren’t accused even though it was Bout #2 that was more one-sided in favor of “Dinamita” and a demand for a quasi rubber match wasn’t priority number one for the vast majority of the boxing world. Besides, Pacquiao was supposed to climb into the ring against Floyd Mayweather within a year or so why would that mega bout (back in 2008) be jeopardized?

The funny thing about all this is that last night’s fight was the closest of all three bouts between the two future Hall of Fame boxers. Pacquiao never knocked Marquez off his feet and there were one, maybe two times where the Mexico City native was buzzed. Marquez confounded Pacquiao for twelve rounds, preventing his trademark carpet bombing of punches from truly exploding. Sure, Pac-Man had his moments where he unfurled vicious flurries with painful intentions, but Marquez’ deft footwork and clever angles kept Pacquiao at bay.

Pacquiao definitely threw more punches than did Marquez (a stat that should be cast aside most of the time) but he hardly landed anything worthwhile on Marquez. In fact, it was Juan Manuel who doled out the bulk of the punishment and it was he who continuously landed the harder, cleaner, more impactful punches. Though it wasn’t every minute of every round, when it came down to who landed the higher number of damaging blows, Marquez blew him out of the water. More so than any other scoring requirement in boxing, it’s the clean punches that do damage that should rack up points, not aggression or the amount of punches thrown.

However, though Marquez pitched a near shutout in the “harder shots landed” department, they came at sporadic times throughout the fight. They were piled up in the fifth and sixth rounds, as well as the eighth and ninth. Those rounds were the ones that were the easiest to score. It were the other eight rounds that caused the controversial scoring debacle.






Rounds one and three, as well as ten, eleven and twelve, were almost all worthy of being declared even because neither man landed much of anything worthwhile. Pacquiao did the majority of the stalking but when he threw his punches, they were usually blocked or missed. He threw more punches no doubt, but the few times that Marquez did get his shots off, he typically made them count and they were clean. Whether a left hook to the body, a slick uppercut through the guard or a tricky counter right cross, they negated the higher punch volume by Pacquiao. At least they should have on the scorecards.

The end result was a fight that could have gone to either man or declared a draw. The majority of the ringside media, as well as those spoken to at the post-fight press conference, felt Marquez got robbed again. In total, 18 members of the media, from writers to photographers to radio/TV hosts felt the Mexican should have won. Three had it a draw and six thought the decision was justified.

What the scoring boiled down was what type of action the particular judge preferred. Some observers prefer the more aggressive, higher volume of punches type of fighter. Others gravitate more towards the one who lands the cleaner, more effective punches regardless of volume. And a select few tend to not even understand the fight game, ignore the action inside the ring and judge solely on who gets a louder crowd reaction or is the more popular of the two.

Was the official score a travesty of epic proportions like so many high profile robberies over the past several decades? No. Not at all. But what is a travesty is that Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum appears to be leaning more towards a fourth showdown between Pacquiao and Marquez, a notion Pac-Man trainer Freddie Roach was more than open to. In fact, there was a surprisingly high number of media personnel who were open to watching them do it again rather than seeing Pacquiao fight Mayweather.

It’s a bit perplexing, to say the least.

The argument to having Pacquiao fight Marquez so soon is why bother to have a third return bout when it took four years between fights one and two and three betwixt two and three? Arum has always been vocal about being against immediate rematches because he believes there needs to be some extra time between bouts to help build momentum and interest. Suddenly, since many felt that Marquez got pick-pocketed by the Nevada judges a third time, much of the talk immediately following the battle about a Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown seems to be quelled.

Why?

Did something instantly change that has altered the opinion of many a boxing writer? Naturally Mayweather-Pacquiao is still the biggest, most desired fight to be made, but many an “expert” seemed to be more inclined to witness a fourth bout between Pacquiao and Marquez (at least that was the moderate consensus at the post-fight presser last night) than watch Pacquiao lock horns with Mayweather.

Is it possible that these so-called “experts” have finally sniffed a rag soaked in ammonia and woke up to what I’ve been saying for four years? Could it be that this small but growing number of boxing insiders have finally been convinced that Mayweather’s style will give Pacquiao all sorts of problems and that their potential showdown will be an absolute dismantling? If Mayweather does eventually step into the ring against the Filipino congressman, it will be a one-sided shellacking of legend; a virtual mismatch.

Mayweather is twice the boxer and counter puncher that Marquez is (and that’s being generous) and he’s much, much quicker. He also cracks much harder than Marquez and he rarely ever gets tagged by clean punches. Roach’s body language at the post-fight presser said it all and his answer to the question about comparing Marquez and Mayweather spoke volumes. When he said that they need to really figure out the problem of fighting the counter puncher and that he’d rather fight Marquez in May over Mayweather, it was troubling.

Roach said that felt Manny pulled out the victory, but he not once called out Mayweather. For the first time in ages, Roach wasn’t overly confident about his prize pupil’s chances against “Money” and spoke more about fighting the Mexican again. If he felt that his guy won the fight, shouldn’t he be orally moving on to bigger and better things?

What it all boils down to is this: If Marquez gave Pacquiao all sorts of hell on three separate occasions and many people, myself included, feel he should be 3-0 against him, just what in the world would Mayweather do to him if and when they fight? It will be a slaughter for the ages, though it’s a fight that simply has to be made next.

Maybe that’s why a surprisingly high number of people now want to see Pacquiao v Marquez IV next instead of Mayweather-Pacquiao. Maybe they are starting to realize that Pacquiao isn’t the guy to take out boxing’s biggest villain…

You can also contact Mike Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19


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