It’s a two full days later and I, like many boxing fans and writers, am still on cloud 9 after witnessing Juan Manuel Marquez’s long-awaited victory over Manny Pacquaio Saturday night at the MGM Grand. The sold-out crowd had to endure an abysmal undercard but got quite the show in the main event. While the complete aftermath of this KO will play itself out in the coming months, the below points are what I observed from press row and during the post-fight press conference.
We All Wanted the “Old Manny” Back…And So Did the “New” Marquez: We’ve all be harping on the fact Pacquiao has looked uninspired in the ring for years. His trainer Freddie Roach has attributed it to out of ring distractions (infidelity, political career etc.) and his faith in God dulling his killer instinct. But for the last few weeks, all we’ve heard from Roach is that Manny had reverted back to the merciless whirlwind fighter we witnessed at the lower weights. And it wasn’t just Roach — word had gone through the press and was verified on the last 24/7 that Pacquiao was abusing his sparring partners.
Well, the old Manny with his reckless abandon showed up Saturday night, and it was that recklessness that left him out cold on the canvas. In the earlier Marquez fights at lower weights, he was able to get away with it because although Juan repeatedly tagged him, the future Mexican Hall of Famer didn’t have the power to put his lights out. The welterweight tank we saw in the ring last weekend definitely did.
Round Three Changed Everything: That Marquez right landed with a pronounced thud only eclipsed by the sound of Pacquiao’s body hitting the canvas. Pacquiao was obviously buzzed, but Marquez did the right thing by not rushing in for the finish. He bided his time and continued setting traps and remaining composed despite a broken nose. After having a great round five, you could feel Pacquiao’s confidence building (and perhaps mixed with a little desperation) in wanting to finish the fight with a KO. That lead directly to that beautiful counterpunch KO in the sixth.
Bob Arum Feels Redeemed: In the post-fight press conference, Arum took a few shots at internet writers claiming the excitement of the main event showed they were wrong in claiming this fight should not have happened. He lauded the obvious KO of the Year from Marquez, the previous knockdowns, and the drama of the entire six rounds. Once again, Arum misses the point. No one ever questioned whether it would be a good fight — history had already shown that Pacquiao and Marquez are evently matched and put on good fights. The question was is it the best fight that could be made and the answer was and still is a resounding no. There will be more than enough blame to go around, but history will give Arum a considerable amount of blame for his role in Mayweather-Pacquiao never happening.
Speaking of Mayweather-Pacquiao…: You probably stopped caring over a year ago, and the result of Pacquiao-Marquez 4 is even more reason to not give this “past its sell date superfight” a second thought. What could have been a historic fight that should have taken place in early 2010 is now essentially meaningless.
What’s Next for Pacquiao and Marquez?: Brandon Rios was milling about during Fight Week and it’s no secret he next in line for Pacquiao if the Filipino icon had won. I see no reason why Marquez can’t slide into that slot because that’s a guaranteed Fight of Year battle. It would be similar to Marquez’s first fight againt Juan Diaz (the 2009 Fight of the Year) in regards to Rios’s pressure and inside fighting. The difference is Rios hits a lot harder, is much bigger and more durable than Diaz.
If that doesn’t come off, Arum of course did not rule out a fifth fight (!) with Marquez. We’ll see how the pay-per-view numbers hold up for this one, but it’d be a very hard sell considering the fourth fight’s conclusive outcome. And being that Pacquiao had to skip the post-fight press conference and head straight to the hospital for a CAT scan (which was negative), I can’t see his team really pressing to jump back in there with Marquez.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Pacquiao take a soft touch and await the winner of Marquez-Rios, if for no other reason then to not end his career on a devastating knockout defeat.
Keep Gamboa Far Away from Broner: Yuriorkis Gamboa returned to the ring after a 15-month absence to score unanimous decision win over a solid Michael Farenas, who buzzed Gamboa several times with hard right hands and even scored a knockdown in the ninth. Gamboa had the rust you’d expect from a long layoff. His power was there and got him two knockdowns of his own, but Gamboa’s glaring defensive holes (hands down, pulling straight back, wide punches inside) were on full display. His promoter 50 Cent name-checked Adrien Broner as a target opponent but that is just lip service at this point. 50 is not blind and knows Gamboa is not ready for Broner at this point (and he’ll probably never be ready). Get Gamboa a few more tuneups and then see where he stands. Put them in the ring together now and Broner KOs him.
Undercard Nyquil: Not sure how it translated at home, but this was one of the worst pay-par-view undercards I’ve ever attended. Fortuna-Hyland was an extended bad sparring session for most rounds due listlessness on Hyland’s part, and Mercito Gesta was completely exposed as a one-dimensional slugger by Miguel Vazquez. Both fights lacked any sustained action and went 12 rounds. Before the Gamboa fight I was ready to claw my eyes out.
Mexicans Were Hype All Night: The crowd was overwhelmingly Mexican and they produced one final funny moment I’d like to share. There was a couple hundred fans camped out by the press area hoping to get a glimpse of any celebrities or fighters leaving. Well, when I left a got a huge Bob Marley chant. You gotta love it. LOL