“I want him to fight toe-to-toe with me so that we can finish early. Twelve rounds is long, why aren’t we looking to make boxing short, right? Either me or him,” eight-division titlewinner Manny Pacquiao, three days prior to Saturday night’s sixth-round knockout loss in his fourth meeting with Juan Manuel Marquez.
“Everybody wants a knockout, because all of the close fights will go to that person. If [Marquez] comes out and he’s aggressive, and he wins by knockout, then I have to respect him and congratulate him if that happens,” Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, on the same day.
LAS VEGAS — During back-to-back interviews on Thursday in The Taboo Lounge of the MGM Grand, Manny Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach expressed separately their mutual desires for rival Juan Manuel Marquez to eschew his counter-punching style for a toe-to-toe approach, apparently in the hopes of enhancing the power-punching Pacquiao’s chances of landing the knockout blow.
On Saturday night, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, they got what they asked for.
Marquez (55-6-1, 40 knockouts) floored Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) with a third round counter-right hand to the temple, rose from a knockdown in the fifth when his right glove touched the canvas, and finished off his Filipino rival with a straight right that left him motionless and flat on his face at 2:59 of the sixth and final round before 16,348 stunned fans.
Not only had Pacquiao cornered Marquez and landed several, fierce punches over the final 30 seconds of the fifth, but he appeared to be winning the sixth when Roach said that “a two-inch punch” caught the onrushing Pacquiao, who “got hit by a punch I didn’t see.”
“That was our strategy, and it was working very well, I thought. I thought we were in control of the fight. I thought that we almost had him out,” said Roach. “But we got a little careless and we walked into a two-inch punch.”
PACQUIAO CHECKS OUT OKAY AT NEARBY HOSPITAL
Pacquiao lay on the canvas for two minutes, and was later checked out at nearby University Medical Center, where he was treated and released, according to his advisor, Michael Koncz.
“Manny was given a CT scan and the results were negative,” said Koncz. “We were in and out in just over an hour, and Manny was in excellent spirits.”
Pacquiao returned to his penthouse suite in THEhotel, an affiliate of the Mandalay Bay, for a family dinner followed by a viewing of the fight. As the DVD played, Pacquiao announced, “Spoiler alert. I don’t think you are going to like how this ends.”
“First and foremost, I would like to thank God for keeping Juan Manuel Márquez and me safe during our fight on Saturday night. I want to congratulate Juan Manuel. I have no excuses. It was a good fight, and he deserved the victory,” said Pacquiao.
“I think boxing fans who watched us were winners, too. To all my fans, I would like to thank you for your prayers and assure you that I am fine. I am looking forward to a nice rest and then I will be back to fight. On behalf of [his wife,] Jinkee, and our family, we would like to wish everyone a joyous Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.”
MARQUEZ’S STRENGTH GURU: MARQUEZ WAS READY FOR ‘HIGH-IMPACT’
In his third fight with Hernandez, Marquez’s powerfully constructed physique enabled him to endure a bloody and — what is likely broken nose– before delivering the coup de gras.
“As I have been saying for a while, I’ve been training with him for more than a year now. We’ve been training differently this time, looking for the knockout, but at the same time, I had been getting him ready for whatever the situation needed. In other words, if the fight was going to be a high-impact fight, Marquez was ready for that,” said Hernandez.
“I think that you saw that. Pacquiao was strong, and I think you saw that. But Marquez was definitely fast, and he was very explosive, and as you can see, power was the main part of his punches tonight. He was able to have snapping punches, and that’s what really counts, and I’m very, very excited about that.”
A graduate of Texas A&M’s exercise science program, Hernandez’s past involvement in performance-enhancing activities has aroused suspicion concerning Marquez’s physique, even as Hernandez never was convicted of any crimes.
“I don’t care what the press has to say, because we’ve answered every question,” said Hernandez, who once testified in a San Francisco Court that he supplied former track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery with illegal substances.
“These are the answers to all of the questions. I’m going to be working with all of the testing authorities. All of the boxers that I work with will be under the testing guidelines of WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] or USADA [United States Anti-Doping Agency,] I haven’t decided.”
Hernandez insisted, yet again, that everything about Marquez’s conditioning is on the up-and-up.
“All that I can tell you is that it’s hard training, hard dedication, and of course science is always attached,” said Hernandez. “Age is not a factor. Age is only a myth.”
ARUM TOUTS MARQUEZ’S STRENGTH GURU: MARQUEZ WAS READY FOR ‘HIGH-IMPACT’
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum turned 81 on Saturday, and complimented fellow aging warrior, Marquez, who turned 39 in August.
Arum said that the last time he saw a performance such as Marquez’s was by George Foreman, who was 45 when his 10th-round knockout of Michael Moorer made him the oldest man to win a heavyweight title in November of 1994.
“When George Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer, he was 45 years old,” said Arum. “Age doesn’t matter. Look at me.”
CAN YOU SAY MARQUEZ-PACQUIAO V?
Dropped three times by Pacquiao in the first round of their initial meeting as featherweights in May of 2004, and once in the third round of their second as junior lightweights in March of 2008, Marquez gained yet another shot at redemption when Pacquiao chose to face him over a rematch with Tim Bradley, whose disputed split-decision victory dethroned Pacquiao as WBO welterweight beltholder in June.
“I don’t think that there was a person who saw that fight, either on television, or here, that wasn’t blown away,” said Arum. “And if there is a demand for a fifth fight, and the guys want to do it again, what better fight can you make?”
What is likely out of the picture is a potential clash for Pacquiao opposite Floyd Mayweather Jr. (43-0, 26 KOs), who has announced that he will return to fight in Las Vegas on the two traditional Mexican holiday weekends — May 4 (Cinco De Mayo weekend), as well as Sept. 14, which is the day before Mexican Independence Day.
Mayweather, who turns 36 in February, is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over then-WBA junior middleweight beltholder Miguel Cotto in May, even as he still is considered to be the WBC’s reigning welterweight titleholder.
“I don’t think it’s the end of Manny Pacquiao. I was just talking to him before he went to the hospital, and he’s fine,” said Roach. “He knows that he walked into a punch, and he made a mistake, and he got careless, and that happens in boxing.”
Pacquiao was stopped for only the third time in his career.
Pacquiao was 11-0 when he was stopped by Rustico Torrecampo in the third round in February of 1996. Pacquiao was 26-1 before losing to Medgoen Singurat by another third-round knockout in September of 1999.
“It’s not the first time that we’ve been knocked out, and it’s not the first time we’ve come back from a loss,” said Roach. “It would be a lot of hard work, but I’m sure that if everything goes well, that he’ll be fine.”
MARQUEZ IS GLAD HE’S BACK
Marquez was so angry after November’s loss to Pacquiao that he nearly retired, only to rebound with April’s unanimous decision over Sergei Fedchenko for the WBO’s junior welterweight belt.
“I’m very happy that I didn’t retire, but yes, I was going to retire last year,” said Marquez. “Now, I’m very happy that I won it and the referee raised my hand. Now, I feel great that I left no doubt with this fight with Manny, so I’m happy that I didn’t retire last year.”
ROACH: ‘POSSIBLE RETIREMENT, POSSIBLE REMATCH’ FOR PACQUIAO
Later, Roach said, “we have to let things settle down.”
“Possible retirement, possible rematch. I’m not sure which way we’re going to go right now. It really depends on how he feels and what he wants to do,” said Roach.
“If we do come back and fight again, and we get back in the gym, and I see good signs, we’ll go on. If I see bad signs, we won’t. I would love to get a rematch, but is that the best move right away? There’s a lot of different things that you have to think about, and it’s very complicated. It’s not going to be over night.”
MITT ROMNEY ATTENDS FIGHT, VISITS PACQUIAO
Romney visited Pacquiao’s dressing room about two hours before Pacquiao entered the ring against Marquez.
“Hi Manny,” said Romney to Pacquiao, according to publicist Fred Sternburg. “I ran for president and lost.”
Arum said “everybody was stunned” when Pacquiao was knocked out, “including the guy who ran for president.”
“He never saw anything like it. When Manny went down, it was right in front of him,” said Arum. “He really liked the fight, and Ann said that ‘I couldn’t believe it. He went down right in front of us.’”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com