LAS VEGAS — Referee Kenny Bayless recalled Saturday night’s dramatic sixth-round knockout by four-division titlewinner Juan Manuel Marquez over eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in an exclusive interview with RingTV.com.
On Saturday night, Marquez (55-6-1, 40 knockouts) planted Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) on his back with a third round counter-right hand to the temple, rose from a knockdown in the fifth when his right glove touched the canvas as a result of a left cross from Pacquiao, then left his Filipino rival laying face-first and motionless from a straight right that ended the fight at 2:59 of the sixth and final round before 16,348 stunned fans.
Pacquiao appeared to have regained momentum in the fifth, having landed several, ferocious blows over the final 30 seconds. Pacquiao seemed to be winning the sixth when trainer Freddie Roach said “a two-inch punch” caught the onrushing Pacquiao, who “got hit by a punch I didn’t see.”
Marquez, 39, was coming off November’s disputed majority decision loss to Pacquiao, having lost by a draw and a split-decision previously.
Pacquiao, who turns 34 on Dec. 17, had floored Marquez three times in the first round of their initial meeting as featherweights in May of 2004, and dropped him once more in the third round of their second as junior lightweights in March of 2008.
RingTV.com: Did you expect anything like what you were a part of on Saturday night?
Kenny Bayless: Well, I knew, just from all of the pre-fight talk and all of the hype, that both of them were claiming that they were going to try to knock the other guy out.
So my expectations were that there probably wasn’t going to be a chance that the fight would go the distance the way they were going.
When the bell rang for the first round, I could actually really see that it wasn’t going to go the distance because they were throwing hard punches.
RingTV.com: What were your impressions early on?
KB: Well, the first couple of rounds, I was just like the judges. I thought that Pacquiao won them. I thought that he won them.
I won’t say that he won them, easily, but I was just feeling as though Pacquiao had controlled the pace of the first two rounds. But when Pacquiao got knocked down in the third round, things changed.
RingTV.com: Is the third round when you saw things start to heat up?
KB: Well, until the third round, it was Pacquiao, and that kind of started to even things out. Then, I could see Marquez starting to pick up his pace.
But that fifth round, I thought that Pacquiao started to gain the control back. When Pacquiao caught Marquez with that shot, and his glove touched the ground, I had to rule that a knockdown.
But Pacquiao, it was his movement that, to me, was right on. He was throwing punches and avoiding punches up until that sixth round.
RingTV.com: What were your thoughts at the end of the fifth round, when Pacquiao had Marquez cornered and he was hammering him?
KB: I did go over and check with the doctor after the fifth round, because the doctor was over there looking, and it appeared to me that Marquez’s nose was broken.
I believe that that was at the end of the fifth round. But the doctor said that he was okay, so, at that point, I just simply left it alone.
RingTV.com: What can you say about the final shot, and what happened from the time that you saw the punch land to the time that you stood over Pacquiao?
KB: Well, it was interesting, because they were mixing it up pretty good in that round, and I had felt that Pacquiao was very confident in what he was doing.
I mean, at the start of each round, Pacquiao would come out of his corner. I mean, I really had to keep slowing him down and motion him back.
That’s the kind of eagerness he was showing for the round to start. But, in that sixth round, I actually heard the 10-second clapper, so I knew that the round was coming to come to an end.
RingTV.com: What happened next?
KB: Well, what probably threw everybody off was that you could hear the clapper, and you knew that the round was going to end. But then, Pacquiao walked into that right hand.
When Pacquiao went down, I immediately signaled for Marquez to go to the neutral corner. And, when I turned back around, Pacquaio was lying motionless.
RingTV.com: When he took that shot, and you saw his face hit the canvas, what happened from there?
KB: I didn’t count at all. I didn’t even pick the count up. I first looked to check him out and to see what his condition was.
When I saw his face on the canvas, and he was making no effort to try to get up, that’s when I just stopped it. I had seen enough. I could just look at him and see that.
I even kind of leaned through the ropes, so I could get a better view of him, and I could see that he was making no attempt to try to get up.
RingTV.com: Were Pacquiao’s eyes opened or closed?
KB: Pacquiao’s eyes were kind of glassy, if I recall. Kind of glassy. But I could only see one eye, because his face was sideways on the canvas.
Pacquiao really took a hard fall. His corner men got into the ring, but it was time to allow the doctors to do their job.
Once we got the corner guys to stay back, at that point, I left the corner. I guess that he might have been down for about two minutes.
RingTV.com: Where does this fight rank among those that you have officiated during your career?
KB: I would have to tell you that this fight ranks very high. It was a very action packed fight, one that the fans can’t complain about the outcome, because it was an exciting fight.
So, it really does rank very highly among the fights that I have done, I would say, probably within the top five or even the top three.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com