By John F. McKenna (McJack)
WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KO’s) won another controversial decision over his nemesis WBO/WBA lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KO’s) Saturday night at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
From the outset of the fight it was evident that “El Dinamita” as always had come to fight and was not in awe of Pacquiao or all the hype surrounding him. Marquez demonstrated once again that he is a brilliant ring technician by not allowing “Pacman” to get off with his rapid fire combinations that have devastated so many prior opponents. Pacquiao has defeated every opponent put in front of him in convincing fashion since the last time he tangled with Marquez on March 15, 2008.
Since their last encounter Manny stepped up in weight class to defeat 7 opponents winning the lightweight title on June 28, 2008 against David Diaz via 9th round stoppage. After stopping Diaz, Pacquiao destroyed Oscar De La Hoya at welterweight in a non title fight in December 2008. From there “Pacman” KO’d Ricky Hatton taking his light welterweight title belts. Next Manny scored a 12 round TKO over Miguel Cotto on November 14, 2009 taking his welterweight title belts after which he won a unanimous 12 round decision over Joshua Clottey in March 2010 taking his WBO title belt. In November 2010 Manny scored an impressive 12 round victory over Antonio Margarito to take his super welterweight title belt. Last May Pacquiao won a unanimous 12 round decision over Shane Mosley, retaining his WBO welterweight title.
In all of his recent fights Manny has looked to be all but invincible and has come to be judged not on whether he won or not, but on how bad a beating he administered to his opponent. Shane Mosley in fact after tasting Manny’s power when he was floored in the 3rd round begged trainer Nazim Richardson to stop the fight.
Every fighter has an opponent who is a thorn in his side. A fighter whose style he just can’t seem to master. As great a fighter as Muhammad Ali was, he could not cope with Ken Norton. Granted Norton was a good fighter. But in reality the fighter who had been manhandled by George Foreman was not in the same league with Ali. Yet he defeated Ali in their first fight and in all probability would have been given the decision in their next two fights if his opponent had not been the living legend Muhammad Ali. Ali was the cash cow then Manny Pacquiao is today.
Styles make fights. In a rare candid moment Muhammad Ali speaking of styles one said of Joe Frazeir and George Foreman that he would defeat Forman 9 out of 10 times but when he faced Frazier you never knew what was going to happen. The same thing is true of Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel hMarquez.
The supposed advantages Pacquiao was going to enjoy because he had become more mobile, was now the larger fighter and was now a two armed fighter as opposed to when he faced Marquez in 2008 did not come to fruition. Marquez is still as puzzling to “Pacman” as he ever was.
Based on what happened in Las Vegas last night it is still no time to cast Pacquiao to the winds. He is still a great fighter. He still landed more punches 176 to 138 than Marquez did. It was just that we have been so accustomed to “Pacman” totally dominating his opponents it is surprising when it doesn’t happen. Don’t count Manny out just yet. He will undoubtedly come back from his disappointing performance against Marquez to confound and surprise his critics yet again.
Expectedly the fans at the MGM Grand booed the decision. They wanted their guy to win and he did put on a good performance. But as legendary trainer and HBO commentator Manny Stewart said after the fight a challenger has to take the champions title. He can’t back off because his trainer told him that basically the fight was in the bag. Why would trainer Nacho Beristain tell his fighter in such a close fight that he was well ahead and not to worry? Especially when both of the prior fights between Pacquaio and Marquez were close and controversial and both Marquez and Beristain had claimed they had been robbed in those fights. It is mystifying and may have cost Marquez the fight.