The fourth bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez was met with mixed reaction when it was announced.
The future hall of famers’ three previous fights were all hotly contested, but each 12-round bout also resulted in a hotly disputed decision that did not favor Marquez, who was 0-2-1 against his arch rival despite winning at least two of the three on the un-official scorecards of the fans and many members of the boxing media.
Why would a fourth bout be any different? And who was going to pay to watch the two aging veterans basically cancel each other out to yet another controversial verdict?
The legions of diehard fans that have ardently supported the masterful Mexican counterpuncher and the dynamic Filipino icon since their first epic fight eight years ago; that’s who.
More than 16,000 faithful followers of both fighters packed the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to witness Marquez finally beat Pacquiao via shocking one-punch knockout in the sixth round of what had been a surprisingly fierce fight on Dec. 8.
Those fans generated a live gate of more than $10.5 million and strong (though not spectacular) pay-per-view numbers (an estimated 1.15 million).
Those same fans voted Pacquiao-Marquez IV to be the Event of the Year for 2012 on RingTV.com’s “Readers’ Choice” poll. The fourth fight garnered 74 percent of 1,000 votes, beating out the dueling Las Vegas shows on Sept. 15 (12.4), Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto (11) and Ricky Hatton’s return to the ring (2.6).
Although the numbers (live gate revenues and TV ratings) connected the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sergio Martinez HBO Pay Per View show, Showtime’s “Knockout Kings” quadrupleheader topped by Saul Alvarez, Mayweather-Cotto and Hatton vs. Vyacheslav Senchenko were impressive, there was no doubt as to which major fight would produce the Event of the Year.
The post-fight buzz from Pacquiao-Marquez IV overshadowed every sporting/entertainment event on Dec. 8, including the UFC on FOX 5: Henderson vs. Diaz broadcast. The dialogue and discourse continued, not only among fight fans through the internet and social media but within the mainstream media, for two weeks following the fight.
Pacquiao-Marquez III was RingTV.com’s Event of the Year for 2011 and if a fifth fight between the two legends happens next year it will likely produce a strong candidate for Event of the Year for 2013.
Next year-end poll: Trainer of the Year
Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank