LAS VEGAS – Bob Arum barely survived what took place inside the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night. So, too, did Manny Pacquiao. That both did was a reflection on the security staff at the MGM and the presence of three ringside judges who will never be nominated for the Supreme Court.
After Glenn Trowbridge and Dave Moretti concluded Pacquiao had defeated his arch nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Robert Hoyle saw it as no better than a second draw in three meetings between them, the sold out crowd of 16,383 began to boo lustily, reaching a crescendo that drowned out Pacquiao’s post-fight words until he finally left the ring with a sad look of embarrassment on on his face.
By then the nearly 80-year-old Arum had scurried away to the post-fight press conference but not without the crowd taking out their mounting frustration on the man who controls Pacquiao’s career and had already begun talking about making a fourth fight between the two next May.
“That’s the first time something like that ever happened to me,’’ Arum said after the majority decision was announced. “All the Mexican fans were booing me. They were yelling, ‘You stole the fight! You stole the fight!’ as if I had something to do with it. You can laugh but they wanted to lynch me. I have to go back to Mexico to promote fights.’’
If he wants to make a fourth fight between them, Arum may have to take it to Mexico to convince the frustrated Marquez to go through another eight to 10 weeks of the arduous training he endures to prepare himself for Pacquiao after now having lost a disputed split decision, a disputed draw and now a highly disputed majority decision.
“If the fighters are willing, the promoter is willing,’’ Arum said. “Not only was this fight not definite, very few rounds were definitive.’’
That depends on who you asked. For the majority of the packed house at the MGM they were quite definitive and many ringside observers felt the same way, the majority leaning toward Marquez by anywhere from a slight margin to the same 8-4 split Trowbridge had it but in the opposite direction.
Even Pacquiao’s most loyal liege, trainer Freddie Roach, admitted he had no idea who won the fight when it ended and though he would be just as happy never to see his fighter in the ring with Marquez again, he feels he has little choice in the matter now.
“It was a competitive fight,’’ Roach said. “It could have gone either way. It’s the kind of fight I don’t want to do again but we have to. This one might have been the closest (of the three). If we didn’t win the last round it might have been a draw or gone the other way.
“S–t. He’s given us problems three times. I do think he deserves a rematch. Yes, I do.’’
Whether Marquez wants it might be the larger issue. Though speaking more from competitive disappointment than rational business sense shortly after his defeat, Marquez said he would go home and talk seriously with his family about retirement for the first time.
“Honestly, it is the result of this fight that make me think of retiring,’’ Marquez (52-6-1, 39 KO) said. “I prepared so hard. I just wanted the judges to score the fight the way it is happening.
“I really believe I have to drop him to win but if I do they will pick him back up and give him the fight. I’m frustrated right now. Very frustrated.’’
Arum was dismissive of Marquez’s talk of retirement, insisting probably quite rightly that those were more the words of immediate disappointment than a rational discourse on his future. What did not seem rational was Pacquiao’s later claim that “It was close but it was very clear I won. It’s part of the game.’’
Certainly disputed decisions have long been a part of boxing but three of them against the same guy seems more than a bit unlikely, just as unlikely as Marquez sticking to his retirement plan after his expected $9 million in guarantees and pay-per-view upside roll in.
While he may have three reasons to consider stepping away from boxing, Juan Manuel Marquez will end up with millions of reasons to press on if an immediate rematch for the WBO welterweight title is ordered at the same catch weight of 144 pounds that applied in this fight.
If that happens, it will assure that the fight boxing fans most want to see – a showdown between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., a younger, faster and more defensively skilled version of the 38-year-old Marquez – will be delayed to at best next November. Although Marquez’s performance Saturday night certainly earned him the right to another shot at Pacquiao, the fact of that seems to make it more unlikely the 34-year-old Mayweather and soon to be 33-year-old Pacquiao will ever give boxing what it wants most.
If they don’t, blame it on Juan Manuel Marquez’s skills and three pencil-wielding judges’ failing eyesight.
PS: Then comes word that Team Mayweather seemingly really and truly wants Pacquiao on May 5. But Arum is not inclined to pursue that fight next for Manny. If true, I would say this is the typical business of boxing. Certainly Juan Manuel Marquez has earned the right at another shot at Manny Pacquiao but how does it benefit the SPORT to make such an announcement? It does not. So what’s the point? It would be to inflame the situation and make it even more difficult to make THE fight because what was apparent Saturday night and each time Manny fights Marquez is that Mayweather will pose a very difficult challenge for him. A challenge Bob Arum may not be up to.