There were worse decisions than Manny Pacquiao’s majority decision victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in 2011, but none were as high-profile as their third bout.
The result of Pacquiao-Marquez III was seen as the “Robbery of the Year” by 43 percent of the fans who voted in this year’s RingTV.com readers’ choice year-end award poll. Other bad decisions of 2011 that received votes included Paul Williams-Erislandy Lara (32.1 percent), Robert Helenius-Dereck Chisora (9.8), Devon Alexander-Lucas Matthysse (8.9) and Felix Sturm-Matthew Macklin (6.3).
However, few (if any) controversial verdicts evoked the outrage that the Marquez’s heart-breaking loss did.
The impassioned outcry was not surprising. Pacquiao and Marquez both have diehard national followings and their rivaly is among the sport’s most heated of the past 20 years.
Marquez clearly outclassed Pacquiao when they first fought as featherweights in 2004, but he had to settle for a split-draw because the explosive Filipino scored three first-round knockdowns.
Had Pacquiao not scored a third-round knockdown in their hotly contested rematch, fought for Marquez’s 130-pound title in 2008, they would have battled to another draw. Instead, Pacquiao won a split decision.
Marquez (53-6-1, 39 knockouts) not only avoided being knocked down in their third match on Nov. 12 in Las Vegas, the 38-year-old veteran fought more effectively than he did in their two previous bouts.
His masterful exhibition of aggressive counter punching shocked and awed most observers, but it wasn’t enough to sway the official judges, who scored the bout 116-112, 115-113 and 114-114 for Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs), obviously crediting the huge favorite’s greater activity.
Press row disagreed with the official verdict. In a poll of 20 ringside boxing writers conducted by Golden Boy Promotions publicist Bill Caplan, 12 thought that Marquez won the bout, seven scored it a draw, while only one had it for Pacquiao (by one point).
Retired veteran judge Chuck Giampa, who scored the bout 116-112 for Marquez, stated that “Marquez controlled the majority of rounds with effective aggression AND ring generalship,” in his You Be the Judge column in the February issue of THE RING.
“I believe (Harold) Lederman (HBO’s unofficial judge commentator who scored the bout 116-112 for Pacquiao) and the three judges did not give Marquez enough credit for his effecive counter punching. As per the rules, a fighter should be given credit for effective aggression whether moving forward, backward, sideways, against the ropes or counter punching.”
That did not happen on Nov. 12 in the eyes of most fans, many of whom counted Marquez out, believing that the reigning RING lightweight champ would not be effective fighting at the 144-pound catchweight for the third bout.
However, although Marquez is officially 0-1-2 against Pacquiao, the Mexican legend scored a couple moral victories over his fellow hall-of-fame bound rival with his unexpected strong showing.
Pacquiao was dropped from the No. 1 spot on the pound-for-pound rankings of both Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com and replaced by Floyd Mayweather, who scored a one-sided decision over Marquez in 2009.
And while Pacquiao retained his WBO welterweight title on Nov. 12, he lost something that night that he carried into every bout that he won since his rematch with Marquez. The moment the decision was announced, Pacquiao was no longer the senitmental favorite among general fans.
That status clearly belonged to Marquez.
Today’s RingTV.com Readers’ Choice Year-End Awards poll category is “Event of the Year.” Go to the poll section on the right side of the homepage to cast your vote now.
Photos/ Naoki Fukuda