Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 39 KOs) knocked Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) out cold on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. A right hand counter by Marquez with one second remaining in the sixth round dropped Pacquiao face first to the canvass where he laid motionless for several minutes. It was a perfectly timed and aimed punch by one of the best counter punchers in boxing. The result brought the first definitive winner of a bout in the four fight series.
This was an extremely interesting bout. From the outset, a few things were apparent to me. Marquez’s added muscle had slowed him down. He also looked a bit older overall. Pacquiao’s offense was flowing and he was firing well in combination. It appeared to me as though he could have boxed to a decision win simply by outworking the aging, muscle bound Marquez.
While Marquez was hindered by the increased muscle mass and advancing age, his boxing IQ was as high as ever. His game plan was very smart. He worked the body from the opening bell. His continued attack to the body caused Pacquiao to drop his hands. That led directly to the third round knockdown. Marquez appeared to be throwing his right hand to the body, but looped it to the head. Pacquiao moved his left arm down to guard the body, leaving his head exposed for a direct right hand that sent him to the canvas.
Pacquiao rose from the knockdown and turned up the intensity. His activity increased and he found a home for his jab and straight left on the heavier, more stationary Marquez. Pacquiao scored a knockdown via a straight left in round five. He also appeared to be distancing himself in the fight. His punches were more fluid and his legs were younger. Marquez was beginning to take more and more punishment.
Despite taking a number of flush shots, Marquez stuck to the game plan. He continued to work the body and look for countering opportunities. Then, with one second left in the sixth came the shot heard around the world. Pacquiao followed Marquez to the ropes as round six was closing. Pacquiao dropped his left hand to his waist while jabbing with his right. Marquez fired a counter right straight down the middle that crushed Pacquiao right on the chin. Pacquiao was out before he hit the canvas and the rest was history.
Marquez’s decision to trade with Pacquiao in hopes of scoring the huge counter was a big, but necessary risk. Marquez knew this strategy was the way to go when Pacquiao started busting him up in the fifth round. Pacquiao got over aggressive and Marquez took advantage in a huge way. It was a beautiful, textbook counter that will be replayed for years to come.
So, now talks will turn to a fifth fight. Count me out as wanting to see these guys mix it up again. Despite the win, Marquez’s age is starting to show. He should ride off into the sunset coming off this bout. As for Pacquiao, we need to see how he recovers from this knockout. He needs to get back to the gym and see how his chin and body responds. Then he needs to take an easy fight to see how his chin and body recover. That was a scary knockout and it may be in Pacquiao’s best interests to hang the gloves up while he still has all his faculties about him.
Instead of looking to the future, we should appreciate what we just saw - a fight of the year candidate between two bitter rivals that left us with the knockout of the year and a definitive winner for the first time in four meetings. Marquez showed guts, heart and determination in finally securing his long sought after victory over one of the best boxers of this generation. It’s been an amazing series of fights that was punctuated with a thrilling, dramatic ending in what hopefully will be the final chapter. From all boxing fans, thank you.