MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Filipino ring icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao suffered a shocking sixth-round knockout at the hands of his Mexican rival, Juan Manuel Marquez, in their fourth encounter at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
It was the first time that Marquez had beaten Pacquiao in four tries, and the victory came in the most satisfying way possible for the Mexican warrior.
After staggering the crafty Mexican in the sixth round, Pacquiao got reckless and walked straight into Marquez’s right hand with just a second remaining.
It was a “perfect punch,” as Pacquiao was knocked out cold and remained motionless on the canvas for several moments while Marquez celebrated.
“I started to get over-confident,” Pacquiao said. “I never expected that punch. He got me with a good shot.”
It was Pacquiao’s first stoppage defeat since 1999. It was also his second straight defeat after dropping a controversial decision to unbeaten American Timothy Bradley last June. Pacquiao now has a record of 54 wins, with five losses, and two draws, with 38 wins coming by knockout.
Meanwhile, it was sweet vindication for Marquez, who entered the bout convinced that he won all three of their previous encounters. The two rivals battled to a draw in 2004 before Pacquiao won rematches in 2008 and 2011, with both wins coming via controversial decisions.
Although he was hurt by Pacquiao’s onslaught in the sixth round, Marquez kept his composure and was able to launch a perfect counter-punch.
“I saw that he was going to throw the one-two (combination), so I stepped to the right and I hit him flush (to the chin),” said Marquez, a counter-punching specialist.
“We knew it was going to be a very difficult fight, but we knew it was possible to win... I knew Manny could knock me out any time. I threw a perfect punch,” added Marquez, who improved his record to 55-6-1 with 40 knockouts.
Entering the fight, both boxers promised an exciting battle, and Pacquiao immediately kept his word as he started aggressively, landing his punches with regularity in the first two rounds.
But it was Marquez who produced the first highlight of the night when he knocked down Pacquiao with a huge overhand right in the third round.
The Mexican said he needed to stay composed after that first knockdown.
|Manny Pacquiao (R) of the Philippines lands a punch to Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico during their welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada December 8, 2012. Photo by R. Marsh Starks, Reuters
“I know that I have to be calm about it, after I knocked him down the first time. I know I have to be patient. With one punch, I know Manny Pacquiao could knock me out,” he said.
In the fifth round, Pacquiao cancelled Marquez’s knockdown when he rattled the Mexican with a blistering series of punches, including a left hook that prompted Marquez to take a knee.
Marquez beat referee Kenny Bayless’ standing eight-count, but Pacquiao was able to corner him and bloodied his nose.
Pacquiao was controlling the sixth round and was seemingly loading up for a knockout punch when he was stunned by Marquez’s perfect counter.
He was leading on all of the judges’ scorecards, 47-46, at the time of the stoppage. Pacquiao also outlanded Marquez, 94-52, in total punches, and 68-41 in power punches, according to ESPN.
Top Rank chief executive Bob Arum believes a fifth fight between the two rivals is possible.
“Why not? Why not? People love this action,” said Arum. “Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta fought six times.”
Asked if he’s open for a fifth bout, Pacquiao replied: “No problem. It’s up to my promoter. That’s part of the game, that’s part of the fight.”
In the post-fight press conference, Arum blasted the critics who called for a boycott of the fight, pointing out that Pacquiao-Marquez IV was a “complete sell out,” with a crowd of over 16,000.
The fight did over $10.8 million at the gate, and celebrities who watched the fight included former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and basketball great Magic Johnson. Losing presidential candidate Mitt Romney was also in attendance and even gave Pacquiao a pep talk before the fight.
Saturday's all-action contest, which featured three knockdowns in just under six rounds before the sensational conclusion, was unquestionably the most exciting of the four between the fighters.
The two boxers battled to a draw in May 2004 before Marquez lost his WBC super-featherweight crown to Pacquiao in a controversial one-point split decision in March 2008.
When they met for a third time, in November 2011, Pacquiao narrowly retained his WBO welterweight title with a controversial majority decision that was greeted by loud booing from disgruntled Marquez fans. – With a report from Reuters.