Lee Groves

10: Juan Manuel Marquez’s best fights

9. March 15, 2008 – L 12 Manny Pacquiao II, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

In the four years that elapsed since their epic draw, Pacquiao exploded to the top of the pound-for-pound charts while Marquez re-lit what looked like a flickering star. The most important victories in Pacquiao’s 7-1 (5) record since the first fight came at the expense of Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, the latter of whom inflicted Pacquiao’s only loss but was stopped in two subsequent fights. Meanwhile, Marquez, 6-1 (2) since fight one, endured the Chris John debacle but rebuilt his reputation through a series of exciting wins, the most vital of which also came against Barrera two fights earlier.

Each man had to suspect their efforts would eventually lead to this rematch, which appropriately was dubbed “Unfinished Business.” Pacquiao was installed a strong 2-to-1 favorite but most of the ringside reporters believed Marquez had the savvy to derail the Filipino juggernaut.

After they traded the first two rounds, Pacquiao struck a decisive blow with 21 seconds remaining in the third when a left cross floored Marquez. Up until that point the third appeared to be Marquez’s, but the judges were forced to reassess their votes; would they give Pacquiao a full-blown 10-8 or would they recognize Marquez’s work over the first two-and-a-half minutes and grant a Pacquiao a 10-9 edge?

The tit-for-tat trading continued round after round, making the judges’ task exceedingly difficult. Marquez appeared to capture the fifth and sixth with excellent long-range boxing while Pacquiao took the seventh with a last-minute firefight that produced a butt-induced cut over Marquez’s right eye. Marquez enjoyed his best round in the eighth as a right to the eye worsened an existing cut and his slicing blows ripped through Pacquiao’s defense.

Pacquiao returned the favor in the ninth by opening a second cut over Marquez’s right eye, one that eventually became a horrific spectacle. A thunderbolt left cross staggered Marquez early in the 10th but Marquez’s counters wreaked havoc on Pacquiao’s rapidly swelling right eye. Marquez tightened matters considerably by winning the final two rounds.

For the second consecutive fight Marquez’s late surge resulted in a moral victory, but nothing more. Duane Ford saw Pacquiao a 115-112 victor while Jerry Roth favored Marquez by the same score. Tom Miller’s 114-113 card for Pacquiao reflected the tightness of the contest, but it did not salve the wounds of Marquez’s fans who believed he had done enough to prevail.

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