LAS VEGAS – Thieves sometimes carry pencils, especially in Las Vegas.
Juan Manuel Marquez knows this better than most, having thrice now been victimized by boxing’s form of Standard and Poors, the disgraced financial rating agency. After 12 rounds of what appeared to many at ringside and nearly all of the crowd of 16,368 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to be a solid win for Marquez, two ringside judges saw a fight only a businessman or a blind man could have seen.
Somehow Judge Glenn Trowbridge scored the bout 116-112 for Pacquiao and Dave Moretti had it 115-113 for the WBO welterweight titleholder. The third, Robert Hoyle, had it a draw 114-114. Meanwhile, a number of ringside observers saw Marquez winning 116-112 and as much as 117-112. But the final arbiter is often the crowd and it hollered wildly for Marquez, booing the decision and then drowning out Pacquiao’s post-fight comments each time he tried to answer the questions of HBO’s Max Kellerman in the ring.
“I’m frustrated right now,’’ Marquez admitted. “Very frustrated. Honestly, I don’t know what I have to do to change the mind of the judges. I think I won this fight more clearly than the other two (which ended in a draw and a split decision victory for Pacquiao that Marquez and many others hotly disputed).
“I don’t know what happened. What do I need to do? The best judge, for me, is the audience and they responded sensationally for me.’’
The stunned and angry crowd hollered and hooted loudly after it was announced that Pacquiao had been handed this improbable majority decision, beating Marquez for the second time under a cloud of suspicion. Marquez refused to speak to HBO’s broadcasters after the fight, storming out of the ring as the fans cheered his exit. When Pacquiao tried to answer HBO’s questions boos thundered down on him like an angry rain until he finally lowered his head, a sad look on his face.
The more HBO’s Max Kellerman persisted in trying to speak with him the louder the boos grew until the crowd began to chant “Marquez! Marquez! Marquez!’’ Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, claimed he was verbally abused as he left the arena to head to the post-fight press conference, many of them blaming him for what they perceived to be the latest boxing heist job.
“All the Mexicans are booing me, yelling at me, ‘You stole the fight! You stole the fight!’’’ Arum said. “As if I had something to do with it. They wanted to lynch me. You can laugh but I got to go back to Mexico and promote fights.
“Look, not only was this fight not definitive, very few rounds were definitive. If the fighters are willing we’ll do it again.’’
An hour after it was over, Marquez stood at a podium inside the arena and said he would consider retiring rather than fight again despite the fact talk had already begun about a fourth fight being held next May. Arum estimated Marquez may have made as much as $9 million once all the pay per view numbers are in but Marquez seemed little interested in any of that, disappointment having overwhelmed even business considerations, at least for the moment.
The reason why was not any sense that at 38 he could no longer compete but rather a sad sense that no matter what he does against Pacquiao the judges will fill out their scorecards as they want.
“It is the result of this fight that makes me think of retirement,’’ Marquez (52-6-1, 39 knockdowns) said. “I want the judge to score the fight the way it is happening. Everybody knows what happened. I think I won this fight more clearly. I really believe I need to drop him and they’d put him back up and give him the fight.”
In the ring, Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) insisted meekly that while the fight was close he’d won. After that he was absent for a long time as a plastic surgeon worked to close several cuts above his eyes. While the winner was being stitched up, the man the judges called the loser stood at the podium wearing a sad smile.
When Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, was asked in the ring if he agreed his fighter had beaten Marquez again he waited for a moment before answering.
“The fight was close,’’ Roach said. “It was very close.’’
Not really. Not unless you brought a pencil to ringside with you.
Later he would say he felt his man pulled it out in the last two rounds while also conceding “it could have gone either way.’’ As endorsements go, it wasn’t exactly a ringing one.
What was more telling was an hour later when he said, “It’s the kind of fight I don’t want to do again but we have to. S__t. He’s given us problems three times. I do think he deserves another rematch. Yes I do.’’
Whether he wants it or not only Juan Manuel Marquez can decide but the larger question might be where does he want it?
Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank