LAS VEGAS, NV – Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao officially added the title “WBC Champion” to his long list of boxing accomplishments by out-pointing Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino last March 15.
Pacquiao captured the World Boxing Council (WBC) and Ring Magazine Super Featherweight title by a narrow split-decision. Judge Jerry Roth gave Marquez a 115-112 decision while Duane Ford scored Pacquiao the winner by the same margin. Judge Tom Miller scored the bout 114-113 for Pacquiao.
It was a hard title earned, probably the most difficult bout in Pacquiao’s distinguished career. The last time the two fought, it ended in a controversial draw.
Similar to the match in 2004, this bloody and brutal battle went the distance in 12-intense-action-packed-filled-rounds. In front of a crowd of 11,000 that was comprised mostly of Mexican and Filipino fans, Pacquiao and Marquez showed those that had the stomach to watch what will and glory is all about.
The bout featured guts and glory, cuts and crosses, heart, redemption and determination. Every Pacquiao lunge was answered by a Marquez right counter punch. Every Marquez shot was answered right away by a Pacquiao punch and back and forth it went.
This was boxing in its truest form. A savage display that had the blood curdling and people waving their fists and dodging imaginary punches in the air as if they were in the ring with the two fighters.
The first round did not display the same type of excitement as their previous match up when Pacquiao floored Marquez three times but the rounds following it certainly did.
In the latter part of the third round, Pacquiao knocked down the Mexican fighter with a wicked left hook to the chin. Marquez immediately got back up on his feet. A few seconds later, Pacquiao threw a right-left combination to Marquez’s head causing him to stumble against the corner rope. He clutched the top rope with his right hand to prevent hitting the ground again. But the bell rang finishing the round before Pacquiao’s barrage could continue. A dazed Marquez began to walk towards Pacquiao’s corner before referee Kenny Bayless pulled him to the other direction.
“I thought it was over after the third round,” admits Pacquiao.
But the fight was only beginning. Marquez would battle back.
In the middle of the rounds, the fight was just about even. The action went back and forth with both boxers trading power punches and combinations. Pacquiao was the quicker boxer using great footwork to set up his punches. Meanwhile, Marquez fought with a slower pace utilizing his right hand to counter Pacquiao’s speed.
An accidental head-butt in the seventh round opened a cut above Marquez’s right eye and later a Pacquiao right cross to the eye opened the gash further.
However, momentum began to change in Marquez’s favor. Like a wounded animal, Marquez did what he was trained to do. He fought back. He changed his strategy. He adjusted to Pacquiao’s quicksilver style.
In the eighth round, Marquez hurt the Filipino with a perfectly timed right cross to the head. The punch opened a cut above Pacquiao’s right eye that would later require 10 stitches. Pacquiao winced a few times as blood dripped from the eye disrupting his vision. Marquez continued to attack. This time Pacquiao was against the ropes and Marquez peppered the Filipino with lethal body shots to the rib cage.
Pacquiao thought to himself, “Knock me out and you win.”
“He hit me a lot but I was still standing and fighting,” Pacquiao said afterwards about the round.
“That’s when I told him to suck it up,” said Roach recalling their conversation in between the eighth and ninth round.
Pacquiao opened the ninth round more cautious. He kept his elbow down guarding his right midsection. Pacquiao landed a few clean combinations jarring Marquez’s head back.
In the tenth, Pacquiao with his senses back brought it to Marquez. He threw another left hook hitting Marquez’s head causing his knee to buckle. He fell against the ropes as Pacquaio overwhelmed him with punches. But he did not fall.
In the 11th and 12th rounds, both men stood their ground. The pro-Marquez crowd fully aware of what is at stake began chanting “Si Se Puede” trying to will their Mexican Champion to give it one more time. The Filipinos responded with “Manny! Manny!” chants.
Bloodied and bruised, the two boxers fought and exchanged blows to the last second. As the bell rang, both men raised their arms in victory.
Ring announcer Michael Buffer revealed the judge’s decision for Pacquiao.
Afterwards, a disappointed Marquez and his team questioned the judge’s decision.
“I thought I won,” said Marquez. “The decision wasn’t correct. The people know who really won the fight. Decisions like this are disturbing. I believe I won the fight.”
Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said that the close decision could have gone either way.
“I think the knockdown [in the second round] was the difference,” said Roach.
During the post-fight press conference, Pacquiao wore black shades trying to cover the brutal cut above his right eye.
He said he expected Marquez to be tough for this re-match.
“He moved fast,” said Pacquiao. “He had head movement and more counter-punches.”
Final Compubox numbers revealed that Marquez out punched the Filipino. Marquez connected 172 punches while Pacquiao only landed 157.
The win brings Pacquiao’s record to (46-3-2 34 KO’s) and sets up a possible bout against WBC Lightweight Champion David Diaz, who had won earlier in the night.