Marquez finally catches up with Pacquiao
BOXING:It looked like the end, but, this being boxing, it could just be the start of something new: for Manny Pacquiao, even though devastatingly knocked out, for Juan Manuel Marquez, who destroyed him in front of a disbelieving audience at the MGM Grand, and for the man who is never far from the epicentre of the business, Floyd Mayweather jnr.
In the six rounds it lasted (to within a second, anyway), the fourth meeting between Pacquiao and Marquez here on Saturday night – for no title but with worldwide fascination – proved to be the most dramatic and the hardest to fathom.
It was the Filipino who wanted a war and it was the counter-punching Mexican who delivered the concluding howitzer, a short right to his opponent’s oncoming jaw that dumped him a sad bundle, face down, near his own corner.
Having never threatened to do that in their previous three fights, he had dropped him also in the third with a long-range haymaker, and survived his own embarrassment when Pacquiao put him down in the fifth with a crisp, short right.
Indeed, the 39-year-old Mexican admitted later he feared he might be knocked out himself, so ferociously did Pacquiao come back at him after the first knockdown.
Few could remember such intense swapping and sharing of pain, a furious blur of leather drowning out reason and caution. When he walked on to the last punch, Pacquiao floated to the floor as if anaesthetised, much as Ricky Hatton had done here at his feet 3½ years ago.
And then, even as Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, sobbed over his stricken form, the promoter Bob Arum shifted his thoughts a few clicks into the future, declaring within minutes: “A fifth fight? Why not? Have you seen a more exciting fight in years?”
For a moment, the principals ignored the rumbling insinuations by Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, that Marquez might have been “juiced” (he was not alone in his suspicions). This was not the time to quibble – and Marquez had been vehement in his denial of the rumours, although in nearly two decades in the business he’d rarely hit with such stunning power. Nor had Pacquiao been so convincingly cut down, with one telling blow.
There were other calculations to be made besides a fifth fight between them, though. On the face of it, defeat would seem to scupper the showdown everyone has been clamouring for over the past few years: Pacquiao v Mayweather.
Yet perversely, not only is that mega-event now easier to make because Pacquiao’s negotiating clout has been weakened, but a second meeting at catchweight between Marquez and Mayweather is also now in the mix. Instead of a two-fighter conundrum, we now have three players to share the spoils and the grief.