THE BREAKDOWN How Marquez Beat Pacquiao

Marquez Pacquiao 121208 005aSaturday night at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Juan Manuel Marquez finally got the elusive win that he’s craved for so long over his long-time rival, Manny Pacquiao. He did it by first dropping Pacquiao in the third and then finally for good in the dying moments of the sixth. It was an astonishing performance by Marquez, who had tasted the canvas himself mid-way through the fifth. Here, I’d like to touch on what both men did from a stylistic and tactical perspective only. {There are other issues surrounding the nature of the fight’s outcome that I’m in no position to reflect upon}.

Even though Pacquiao was able to land more visibly clean punches on Marquez during six rounds of this fight than he probably did during the entire third fight, he still never really managed to dominate the ring generalship, as once again, Pacquiao failed to cut the ring off on Marquez. Predictably, it was Marquez who seemed to be controlling the tempo. It was Marquez who was positioning Pacquiao where he wanted him to be. And it was Pacquiao who was reduced to following Marquez around the ring once more.

marquez beat pacquiao

Here, as was often the case in all three of their fights, Pacquiao is reduced to following Marquez around the ring. Notice as Pacquiao is looking to land his double jab/straight left hand combination, Marquez is simply turning with Pacquiao, staying on Pacquiao’s right shoulder and away from his trailing left hand. Moving in this direction keeps Pacquiao punching across himself in order to land his straight left.

The above sequence shows Manny Pacquiao at his most aggressive. For me, attacking in this way against Marquez plays directly into his counter-punching hands. Even though Marquez doesn’t land anything in return this time, notice how off-balance Pacquiao is after his failed attack. This is what eventually cost him the fight in the end.

If we think back to Pacquiao’s fight with Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao had a lot of success landing his straight left hand by punching with Cotto, sitting back more and almost playing the part of counter-puncher himself. Using feints to draw a reaction out from the counter-puncher and then countering them is a far more productive way of attacking them than simply rushing in blindly hoping to overwhelm them with volume. Counter-punching technicians like Marquez thrive on aggression.

marquez beat pacquiao 2

Here’s Pacquiao landing his trailing left hand inside of Cotto’s Jab. Notice how Pacquiao is dipping low and his head is taken away from the center line and to the outside of Cotto’s jab.

During the aftermath, many have claimed that Pacquiao was far too aggressive and this is how he was later knocked out by Marquez. This may be true in part, but in the early going of the fight, Pacquiao actually used more intelligence and relied more on his timing on offense, as opposed to all out aggression. Because Pacquiao was landing more frequently on Marquez than we’ve become accustomed to seeing him do lately, many were quick to put this down to Pacquiao being more aggressive, when in fact, he was actually displaying more patience. Pacquiao was still coming forward as usual, but unlike last time, he was punching less and feinting more. But because of the added head and shoulder feints, when he did decide to punch, he connected more often. Pacquiao’s feints in the early going worked extremely well for him. Juan Manuel Marquez is one of the greatest counter-punchers in boxing history. The staple of his game is to read and react to anything that his opponent does. Whenever Pacquiao was throwing head and shoulder feints, he was successful in drawing out an attack or a physical reaction from Marquez.

marquez beat pacquiao 3

Here, as Marquez responds to Pacquiao’s bending at the waist by throwing a jab, Pacquiao counters him by taking his head to the outside and landing  a straight left hand inside of the Marquez jab. This was a far cry from Pacquiao’s usual “feet off the ground” attack. In this instance, Pacquiao’s feet are planted. Instead, it’s his upper body that’s creating the punching angle.

marquez beat pacquiao 4

Here, as Marquez throws a jab, Pacquiao performs an outisde parry with his trailing hand and counters the counter-puncher with a right hook. Again, Pacquiao was landing more visibly clean shots than we were used to seeing him land against Marquez, but it wasn’t really aggression that allowed him to do it. Pacquiao was countering the counter-puncher.

By attacking in this way, Pacquiao is not directly in line to be hit with anything in return.

marquez beat pacquiao 5  

Here, Pacquiao is punching with Marquez. As Marquez is throwing his jab, Pacquiao is throwing his straight left hand. Because Pacquiao is dipping low and his head is off to the side, his straight left hand lands while Marquez’s jab misses the target.

Pacquiao continued to have success against Marquez by being less aggressive with his movement and more cerebral with his punching. So much so, that Marquez touched down in the fifth as a result.

marquez beat pacquiao 6

As Marquez is throwing the jab, Pacquiao is bending at the waist and off to his right, landing his straight left hand down the pipe, sending Marquez to the canvas.

For me, it was obvious that Marquez was looking for the knockout. But like Pacquiao, he did this by actually being less aggressive and more cerebral. By throwing less and feinting more, Marquez opened up his attacking options. It must be said, Marquez was simply brilliant in disguising his attack towards Pacquiao’s two main targets. If you think about the human body, the lower right side of the stomach and the left side of the face are about as far away a target as you can legally hit inside a boxing ring. Marquez attacked both of these targets by positioning himself in such a way that Pacquiao couldn’t tell what target Marquez was aiming at. Needless to say, because both targets are so far away from each other, the natural defenses for both shots aimed at these targets –the left hook to the body and the right hook to the head- are vastly different.

marquez beat pacquiao 7

Here, Marquez dips and feints low, which causes Pacquiao to react.

marquez beat pacquiao 8


Both fighters are in the same position. As Marquez dips low, he continues forward and this time connects with a left hook to the lower right side of Pacquiao’s body.

marquez beat pacquiao 9  

Both fighters are in the same position. This time, Marquez occupies Pacquiao with a jab before feinting low and coming back up top with a right cross. Pacquiao is trapped in two minds –is it a body shot? Is it a hook? Pacquiao’s so busy thinking what to do with his hands, that he’s neglected his feet. Marquez’s lead foot is on the outside of Pacquiao’s, who is leaning back and on his heels.

Despite many in the media suggesting that this was a new offensive wrinkle from Marquez -a cross with a different arc attatched to it- Marquez has used the exact same shot before on Pacquiao. This was nothing new.

marquez beat pacquiao 10

Here’s Marquez stepping in with the exact same looping right cross in the third fight. Again, Pacquiao is leaning back and his feet are planted as Marquez manages to get his lead foot on the outside of Pacquiaio’s lead foot.

After Pacquiao had equaled things up by knocking Marquez down with a straight left hand in the fifth, we saw Pacquiao resort back to his usual ultra-aggressiveness against Marquez again. This is where the fight turned on its head. With Marquez probably in the most trouble he’d been in against his Filipino rival since the first round of the first fight, Pacquiao became overly aggressive in his eagerness to close the show. Up until then, even though Pacquiao still hadn’t really managed to avoid being directed onto Marquez’s right hand, it was Pacquiao who was on top and it was mainly because of how he used head and shoulder feints before throwing his straight left hand to open Marquez up. Now, all of a sudden, we saw Pacquiao’s signature foot feint/right jab/straight left hand attack come into play. All of a sudden, Pacquiao became predictable again.

marquez beat pacquiao 11

Here’s Pacquiao’s signature foot feint attack. Out of range, Pacquiao bounces in and throws a jab/straight left hand combination. Marquez easily blunted Pacquiao’s advance by taking a step back and using his left glove, almost performing an old technique called the stop hit.

The warning signs were there for Pacquiao. With Marquez now able to hurt and drop Pacquiao, the last thing Pacquiao should have done was throw caution to the wind in his quest for the knockout. During the final moments of the sixth round, with the crowd now in a frenzy as Pacquiao was looking to close the show behind wave after wave of attacks, one of the smartest technicians in boxing was also sensing closing time.

marquez beat pacquiao 12

Here’s Pacquiao coming in with another one of his signature feint attacks. As he feints and then steps in, Marquez takes his head off the the side and away from the center, and connects with a short right hand as Pacquiao is leaping in.

Disregarding any controversial rumours that may or not be true, Juan Manuel Marquez is one of the most cerebral technicians in boxing. During 36 rounds with Manny Pacquiao, you can guarantee that he will have soaked up every little Pacquiao nuance and embedded it into his boxing database. Earlier, I mentioned that  a feint against the counter-puncher is one of the best tools a fighter can use in an attempt to unlock them. However, if that feint is no longer seen as an intended punch or an offensive maneuvre, and is actually recognized for what it is, then you are providing the counter puncher with familiarity and something to key off on. Something to counter.

marquez beat pacquiao 13

No disrespect to Shane Mosley, but he doesn’t possess the timing or ring IQ of Juan Manuel Marquez. Here, Mosley easily succumbs to Pacquiao’s foot feint attack. Frozen by the feint, Mosley can’t avoid the right hand follwed by a straight left.

Here’s another look at that stunning finish by Marquez.

marquez beat pacquiao 14

Contrast how Marquez countered Pacquiao’s attack compared to how Mosley did. Unlike Mosley, Marquez isn’t frozen by Pacquiao’s feint, instead treating it like an amber light on a set of traffic lights. Marquez has seen this attack time and time again from Pacquiao. In the past, Marquez has defensed it by redirecting it past his left shoulder or by ducking under it. Here, Marquez keys off Pacquiao’s stutter before the leap and connects with a right cross just as Pacquiao’s throwing his right hand. Marquez knows that Pacquiao’s right hand is nothing but a decoy before the straight left hand. Once Pacquiao feints, Marquez knew there was another move before Pacquiao launched his real attack.

Up until the point of the knockout, although Pacquiao seemed to be coming on strong, the fight was pretty much in hanging in the balance. I was really impressed with Pacquiao’s more controlled attacks and his improved upper body and head movement, as was I with Marquez’s continued ability to force Pacquiao into moving onto his right hand -this time by using a left hook to the body to go with his already excellent positional foot work- and also his timing.

Although many will argue that Pacquiao’s best moments came just after he knocked Marquez down, when he seemed to be on the verge of taking over the fight, this was the moment when he actually became most vulnerable to Marquez’s hard right hand counters.

The warning signs were there all along for Manny Pacquiao.


Comment on this article


-tlig :


-Robert Curtis :

All right. This article is brilliant too. Love the photos and comparisons. But maybe we don't need any more? Although I have not seen any TSS scribes riff on my theory that Juan was just more serious and less Hollywood than Manny Saturday night.

-Radam G :

YUP! The "warning signs" were there. Not only did Marquez throw that sneak right, he stepped on Da Manny's toe. Give it up to Marquez. He is an artmaster of the tricks or the trade. And, again, I will spit that that punch was not roids-and-PEDs made. Holla!

-deepwater :

the sweet science is beating a dead horse. ready? here we go. marquez hung in tough and clipped pacman when he went for the knockout. nothing more nothing less.


Another good article by Mr.Lee Wylie. to be honest i feel the same way as the the comments already posted BUT at the end of the day no one makes you read these articles,these writers must put a lot of time and effort in to give us good reading, If i find i have read enough of a particular story i dont click on it again.

-Robert Curtis :

Another good article by Mr.Lee Wylie. to be honest i feel the same way as the the comments already posted BUT at the end of the day no one makes you read these articles,these writers must put a lot of time and effort in to give us good reading, If i find i have read enough of a particular story i dont click on it again.
Yes. Reading new TSS articles is entirely up to the individual based on his free time and interest. These are the very finest boxing writers alive contributing here, but take them or leave them at will. I feel the same about any new TSS articles as I do about gay marriage. I'm 100% in favor, as long as they don't make it compulsory.

-brownsugar :

Yes. Reading new TSS articles is entirely up to the individual based on his free time and interest. These are the very finest boxing writers alive contributing here, but take them or leave them at will. I feel the same about any new TSS articles as I do about gay marriage. I'm 100% in favor, as long as they don't make it compulsory.
I think it's fun and interesting to see these graphics along with the scripting... but an article like this can be painful to the reader who was rooting for the loser... and knowing that can make it more enjoyable for the rest. sometimes the article is not about something most of us don't already know,.. but to see it in "slide" form erases any doubt that these pro's are operating on a strategic level that rivals football, fencing, and chess.... and at times it can be facinating to see their thought processes in print.

-deepwater :

Yes. Reading new TSS articles is entirely up to the individual based on his free time and interest. These are the very finest boxing writers alive contributing here, but take them or leave them at will. I feel the same about any new TSS articles as I do about gay marriage. I'm 100% in favor, as long as they don't make it compulsory.
Spoken like a true libertarian! Live and let live.the individual is the smallest minority .

-MisterLee :

Great article. In round 3 of part 4 it seemed according to the photo that Marquez committed more to the attack by following through with more shoulder and weight to get more power vs. Fight 3 he was not as committed to the attack. Also, a prime Mosley mighta been too much for Pacquiao to handle ... if they were both prime lightweights... not a fair comparison imo... but I see Wylie's point about reactions.

-mortcola :

Gotta agree with both the ravers and Deepwater. What is good and unique about this series of analytical articles is that it really does illustrate the techniques behind hit and not get hit - it is boxing schematics. But, per Deepwater, there was nothing unusual or destined about Marquez' ko. He executed a perfect counterpunch. He tried the same thing a hundred times in four fights, and usually didn't do more than land a decent blow. They could fight four more times and odds are he won't clock Pac that perfectly again, because absolutely perfect fight-ending counterpunches are rare. What we have here is, simply, a good illustration of how it gets done. Use a new tool, get excited over believing you discovered something new with it, when all you're doing is seeing what's always been there, but with new perspective. Pac will always struggle with Marquez shifts of position, leaving him off balance (which he often is anyway, but he usually compensates for it by making it work against the opponent), and Marquez will always be vulnerable to Pac's speed, aggression, and unusual punch angles. next time, let's see the schematics of how Pac boxes in the Marquez dosey-do and strafes him with a fight-ending cross-hook combination. With these two guys, you get all possible configurations.

-gensan pride :

Mr Wylie, You think if Jmm didnt step on Manny's right foot, Manny would have avoided the punch? Can somebody reenact round 6? show us a situation where one scene Jmm didnt step on Manny, and what could have been?.......

-dino da vinci :

Are you a pirate?