The shocking and abrupt ending to this past weekend's Pacquiao-Marquez IV welterweight bout seems to have fans all over the place as to what happened. Before getting into that, let it be said up front that I'm not dignifying any of the possible PED use on Marquez' behalf because it's ridiculous. Nobody mentioned those things about Pacquiao except Floyd Mayweather, who has no creditability at all, when Manny was knocking Marquez, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto all over the ring. So I'm not going to tarnish Marquez' moment in the sun.
Back to the fight. Let's cut through the BS, Pacquiao was fighting beautifully from the onset other than getting caught with a nicely placed right hand high to his face in the third round by Marquez. Manny won the first two rounds and was fighting well in the third before he was nailed. In the fourth and fifth rounds he was taking it to Marquez (having put him down in the fifth) and looked as if he found his rhythm. His head feints and upper body movement had Marquez bewildered and waiting on him, thus it was Manny who was setting the tempo and pace and was making Marquez react to what he was doing, huge advantage Pacquiao. In essence Pacquiao got what he wanted, and that was Marquez to fight him. Only Marquez realized he couldn't, at least not in a sustained fashion the way Pacquiao was forcing him to.
By the mid point of the sixth round Marquez was bleeding and his face was pretty busted up. And if time stopped a minute into the sixth round one would've said that Marquez was in peril of not making it through to the final bell this time. However, Juan Manuel Marquez is one extremely tough fighter both mentally and physically. One incredible thing about him is that, whatever is happening to him in the ring, he never gets discouraged.
He saw that Pacquiao was starting to get careless and was looking to escalate his attack and go after him, felt that he needed to make a statement in this fight. And Marquez used that to his advantage.
When all was said and done there were two things that enabled Marquez to land the biggest and most memorable punch of his career at the end of the sixth round. For starters, being that he put Pacquiao down and hurt him with one good clean right hand in the third round, I believe Marquez felt that he could really turn the fight around with one punch if he could get another one in on the pressing Pacquiao. The right hand that Marquez dropped Pacquiao with, because it was so explosive and visibly had Manny shaken, enabled Marquez, despite how much Pacquiao was taking it to him in the subsequent rounds, to never bail on the fight.
The other thing Marquez did was accept that in order to plant another big right on Pacquiao again, he was going to need to let Manny think it was safe to bring it and that he himself was going to have to eat a lot of leather in the process to sell Pacquiao on the idea that he could take his chances. Marquez accepted that it was going to hurt and there might not be the payoff that he was looking for, but it was his only chance to win. As he said after the fight, and I believe him, Pacquiao was gonna knock him out if he didn't do something.
Fast forward to the end of round six -- Pacquiao had Marquez on the run because he was forcing the issue and because Marquez wanted Pacquiao to think this fight wasn't as hard as he thought it would be and therefore, he hoped Manny would get a little complacent. And then boom, just as Pacquiao is bearing down on him and looks as if he's anticipating the bell to end the round, he's in front of Marquez with his lead right hand and back left hand around his chest, and Marquez cuts loose with a massive right hand over Manny's low guard as he's inching in and turned out the lights. Anyone watching could see that the moment the right hand connected, based on how Pacquiao was falling forward, the fight was over.
So what happened? Manny Pacquiao got caught with a big shot he didn't see, and one that he didn't believe Marquez was capable of delivering based on the previous three rounds. Prior to the knockout, Manny looked better prepared and more purposeful than he had in his previous three fights with Marquez. He just made a mistake in following a fighter who is the best counter-puncher in the sport, someone who has his number, at a time when his defensive urgency was declining because of what had unfolded over the previous eight or so minutes.
So let's not say that Pacquiao was a spent fighter entering the ring that night. Marquez had to go through hell in a virtual gasoline suit before his strategic desperation and internal character enabled him to land his lottery punch. And don't let that lottery punch designation take away from what Marquez realized during the fight and how he went about setting it up. Marquez is a great fighter and took advantage of Pacquiao's assertiveness and belief that Marquez was on the verge of just fighting to survive.
Pacquiao looked terrific until he got caught. He can still be a terror physically if he can find the urgency to prepare with a purpose if he fights again. However, no one knows what suffering such a devastating knockout will do to him psychologically, but it's a mistake to assume it's a given that he won't be affected by it. Then again if there is a fighter who could overcome such a setback, it's Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao-Marquez IV was a great fight. We saw the old Pacquiao head movement and aggression and his power was there because he was clearly hurting Marquez. He just got caught because he was a little too in control in his mind, and had a momentary lapse defensively against a fighter who's the wrong guy to have it against. And that caused him to walk into one he didn't see at a time when Marquez believed he not only needed a knockout to survive the fight, but was confident he could deliver it if Pacquiao cooperated just a little...and he did!
Juan Manuel Marquez caught Manny Pacquiao with a finishing right hand that he didn't see and knocked him out. That's boxing!
Both Manny and Juan are a credit to the sport of professional boxing and both showed extreme class after the fight. Pacquiao didn't make a single excuse for losing and Marquez was a very gracious winner.
Thank you Manny and Juan!
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmai.com