It’s been about five years and two weeks since the day Manny Pacquiao got knocked out by archrival Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas, in what was their pivotal fourth showdown.
After Pacquiao took a wicked right from Marquez who looked like he was losing, the Filipino boxing great lay motionless and the whole nation was in shock. I walked out of the theater where I watched the fight before the crowd made its way for the exits; I was shocked but not surprised, because I knew very well the risk Pacquiao faced when he decided to face Marquez for a fourth time.
Entering the fourth fight, Marquez already had “measured” Pacquiao or knew the Filipino’s weak points. The Mexican also trained like a mad man for their fourth fight, incorporating strong man training into his regular boxing drills. The formula of Marquez was simple—his vaunted right cross found Pacquiao several times in their third fight on November 12, 2011, and putting more power into his punches could spell the difference if they met for a fourth time. Well, that’s how things turned out on December 8, 2012.
On the part of Pacquiao, he continued to count on his furious work rate and punching power to hopefully shut up Marquez for good; well, that was what I was hoping for on December 8, 2012—that Pacquiao shut up Marquez for good, by depositing the Mexican to the canvas or beating him to a pulp.
And it looked like Pacquiao was on the way to shutting up Marquez for good in the sixth round, as the Mexican, having suffered a knockdown in the fifth round, was holding on to dear life in the sixth round as Pacquiao continued to pummel him mercilessly. As the clap for the final 10 seconds of the sixth round sounded, I was telling myself “the end of Marquez is near….” And pow! It was Pacquiao who ended up in the canvas cold.
I watched the final 30 seconds of Pacquiao-Marquez 4 more than 20 times and I must say the skeptical view the Mexican won by landing a lucky punch is unfounded. Here was what happened: Pacquiao, sensing his opponent was badly hurt looked eager to land his vaunted left cross on Marquez; but as Marquez retreated, he was obviously waiting for the Filipino to make a move the Mexican had studied very well, which was for Pacquiao to feign with a right jab and lunge forward simultaneously, and uncork his left cross; and Pacquiao made the mistake of telegraphing his finishing move, which Marquez read very clearly; and Marquez simply uncorked his vaunted right cross on Pacquiao’s left chin that was obviously not protected by his left hand. Marquez must have also loaded a lot of anger into his finishing punch, perhaps with the thought that he was robbed in their first three matches by the judges. And down went Pacquiao cold.
There are many lessons to be learned from Pacquiao-Marquez 4:
1. Don’t have rematches with counter punchers—counter punchers are very good in determining an opponent’s weaknesses, and once they get good enough information on that, expect the counter punchers to intelligently capitalize on that in rematches. We have seen that in rematches between Andre Ward and Sergei Kovalev, and Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana. And Pacquiao-Marquez 4.
2. Losing a great fight won’t denigrate one’s legacy—despite losing to Marquez in their fourth fight, nobody can take away Pacquiao’s standing as the greatest Filipino fighter and one of the greatest in the sport in this era.
3. A knockout loss can weaken a fighter—some top fighters who lose by knockout in the latter part of their careers lose much of their sting in the ring. And Pacquiao never looked like his old self after losing to Marquez.
4. Boxing is dangerous business—Pacquiao still looked invincible prior to his fourth showdown with Marquez, and he could have just ignored the calls from both fans and the Mexican to fight his archrival anew. But he accepted the challenge and we all saw what happened. Boxers giving in to calls to take on dangerous fights can have fatal results.
Marquez will always boast that he knocked out Pacquiao. But for many Filipino fight fans, the loss of Pacquiao to Marquez more than four years ago will remain a bitter pill to swallow.