Manny Pacquiao: Is Pacquiao no longer Pacquiao? Some will argue that the Filipino star did enough to eke out a victory over rival Juan Manual Marquez on Saturday night in Las Vegas. No one can argue that this was the Pacquiao who has captivated the boxing world the past several years. He looked lost much of the fight, struggling to land clean punches against an opponent deemed too old and too slow for him. He fought aggressively but didn’t seem to have the fire for which he is known. He didn’t look like the best fighter in the world. Of course, much of this can be attributed to Marquez. The Mexican obviously has a style (and the guile) that confounds Pacquiao regardless of any deficiencies he might have. And there’s no shame in losing to a truly great fighter. Still, it was strange – even disappointing – to witness a less-than-spectacular performance from Pacquiao. Turns out he’s human after all.
MOST UNFORTUNA TE
Juan Manuel Marquez: Put yourself in Marquez’s shoes. You and countless others are certain you beat your rival three times – the third time when he’s the No. 1 fighter in the world – and you emerge 0-2-1 against him. Not even boxing is supposed to be so cruel. Marquez gave a splendid performance even if you’re OK with the judges’ decision. He moved better at 142 pounds than he did against Floyd Mayweather Jr., evidence of smarter preparation. And he fought his fight, that of a counterpuncher. He waited for Pacquiao to come to him and the winner obliged, which is why the fight was so competitive. Marquez didn’t win on the cards but proved again that he’s one of the best fighters of his time. He did three times what fighters like Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto couldn’t do once, look Pacquiao in the eyes and give as good as he took.
The fans: Not even one third of fans who took part in the current RingTV Poll believe Pacquiao deserved to win the fight Saturday. Almost half (48 percent as of late Sunday night) the fans scored the fight for Marquez; 31.8 had Pacquiao winning; and 17.4 scored it a draw. Another 2.8 percent scored it “other.” The 48-percent figure is striking because of many fans’ loyalty to Pacquiao, who almost certainly is the most-popular fighter in the world. The fans must’ve felt strongly about the decision to lean so heavily in Marquez’s favor. The fact that Marquez didn’t win over a majority of voters also is telling: Slightly more than half of the voters don’t believe Marquez won the fight, clear evidence that the result of this fight is in the eye of the beholder.
MOST OVER THE TOP
Cries of robbery: Those who believe that Marquez beat Pacquiao have a good case. The Mexican, who clearly has Pacquiao’s number, landed the more eye-catching punches throughout the fight. And his supporters can justifiably bemoan the fact that he probably has won as many as 20 of their 36 rounds yet is 0-2-1 in their meetings. However, to call Pacquiao’s majority-decision victory on Saturday a robbery is over the top. I don’t put too much stock in CompuBox statistics but they’re not meaningless. The number favored Pacquiao, 178 to 136 in punches landed. Pacquiao also was the busier fight, outpunching Marquez 578 to 436. Judges often reward aggression. And I would say at least six of the 12 rounds were so close that they were difficult to score, with the remaining six evenly divided between them. In my opinion, this was a close fight that could’ve gone either way.
Pacquiao-Mayweather vs. Pacquiao-Marquez IV: Who should Pacquiao fight next? Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, suggested immediately after the fight that he would begin work on a fourth fight between them in May. That fight makes sense for Arum. Pacquiao-Marquez IV would generate a lot of interest because of the controversy surrounding the fight Saturday, which would guarantee a hefty payday for both fighters. And Arum wouldn’t have to deal with Floyd Mayweather Jr. or rival Golden Boy, which represents Mayweather. Pacquiao-Mayweather makes sense because the gargantuan amount of money it will generate. It remains the fight everyone wants to see, even after Pacquiao’s so-so performance. And Mayweather might be more eager to face a Pacquiao many will perceive as vulnerable, which could help in negotiations.
Timothy Bradley: The WBO junior welterweight titleholder was in position to make a fortune against Manny Pacquiao in his next fight. The first step was signing with Arum, who now promotes both Bradley and Pacquiao. The next step was to look sharp against faded Joel Casamayor on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard. Bradley certainly looked good enough, stopping the Cuban in eight rounds. The third and final step was a one-sided victory by Pacquiao over Marquez. Doh! The controversial nature of the decision makes a fourth fight between Pacquiao and Marquez more marketable than Pacquiao-Bradley. And, of course, there’s always Pacquiao and Mayweather. Bradley might yet get his big fight but the odds of it happening became at least somewhat longer on Saturday night.
Alvarado-Prescott: Lost amid the hoopla and then controversy surrounding Pacquiao-Marquez was the best fight of the night in Las Vegas. Breidis Prescott, the conqueror of Amir Khan, fought well and with impressive ferocity to build a lead and batter the face of oh-so-tough but seemingly overmatched Mike Alvarado of Denver. However, Alvarado slowly slugged his way back into the fight with inspiring grit and determination. Then, in the 10th and final round, he punctuated an entertaining come-from-behind effort by stopping the Colombian. The victory makes Alvarado a player in a deep division. Prescott? He’s 4-4 since he stopped Khan in 2008, a run of mediocrity that leaves his future in doubt. The fact he gave Alvarado hell – and the fans a great fight — might’ve earned him at least one more big bout, though.
The passing of Joe Frazier: I always think of two things when I think of Joe Frazier, who died of liver cancer on Monday. One, he broke my heart. Muhammad Ali was bigger than life to me when I was a child; he was superhero in the flesh. I idolized him. And Joe took him down in the first of their three meetings. I was crushed but remember thinking, “Frazier must be something if he could do that.” In fact, he was. And, two, I had the chance to sit down with him much later in life. He surprised me when he bluntly claimed responsibility for the apparent damage to Ali’s brain. I understood what seemed to be his bitterness toward Ali, who ridiculed him publicly before their fights. In retrospect, I think he also was pointing out evidence of the carnage his mighty fists could once produce. It was unnecessary. We all know how great Joe Frazier was. So long, Joe.
Juan Manuel Marquez, on the prospect of a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight: “I think that commercially speaking, that would be a huge fight. It would be a really big fight. But I think that if they fought, boxing is about styles, and I think that the style of Floyd Mayweather would get very complicated for Manny Pacquiao.”