As ring announcer Michael Buffer announced the result of the third instalment of Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez and the Philippine’s hand was raised, three similar outcomes emerged. Firstly, a Pacquiao victory, marking his fifteenth consecutive win and affirming his Ring Magazine pound-for-pound, number one status. Second, came the calls for a potential match-up between Pacquiao and the man directly below him in the rankings, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the controversial manner with which Pacquiao was awarded the win invited inevitable scrutiny from around the world.
The fight on November 12th marked the trilogy of bouts between Philippine superstar, Manny Pacquiao, and Mexican legend, Juan Manuel Marquez. They first came to blows in a featherweight contest in 2004. Despite being knocked down three times in the opening round, Marquez fought back and many observers were startled by the judges’ decision of a draw. Forward-wind four years, and the two met again, this time at super-featherweight. On this occasion, the two were able to be separated, albeit with Pacquiao winning with a contentious split-decision. Since that fight, Pacquiao has gone on to god-like status in his home country of the Philippines, earning his number one rank in the world with dazzling displays and an incredible ability to maintain his unrivalled speed whilst climbing through the weight divisions. On the eve of the fight, Pacquiao was an eight-weight world champion, securing wins over several of the biggest names in the sport, including Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Shane Mosley.
Juan Manuel Marquez, on the other hand, has not enjoyed such success. The Mexican firmly believes that, had he been given the victory in either of the two bouts against Pacquiao, he would have assumed the reputation and privileges that Pacquiao currently enjoys. Despite being rightly-regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world, Marquez has hidden under the radar in recent years and when given the opportunity to mix it up with the best, he fell alarmingly short with a unanimous points decision loss to Mayweather. For Marquez, this third fight with Pacquiao represented a chance to rectify unfinished business and answer the doubters who believed that the 38 year-old had seen his best days in the ring, all at the same scene of his devastating defeat to Mayweather, the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
However, in spite of an apparently even contest which saw Pacquiao dominate the early rounds before being pegged back by Marquez’s crisper, more clinical shots, the three judges at ringside awarded the Philippine a majority-decision points win. Cue a clearly disappointed Marquez, who stormed out the ring before his interview with American broadcaster, HBO. Yet, what was perhaps more remarkable were the scenes that ensued from the watching spectators. Pacquiao’s meteoric rise to stardom has simultaneously seen him gather a large and unrivalled fan base, but even they, along with the 16,500 capacity crowd could not hide their disgust at the result. For more than 15 minutes, the crowd booed and furthermore, threw bottles to visibly show their anger. It is this commotion that has pundits and fans around the world asking one clear question. What has this fight done to harm the chances of a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather match-up?
Firstly, however, one must address the performance of Manny Pacquiao. The 32 year-old went into the fight as a heavy favourite, with some bookmakers giving Marquez long odds of 9-1. It is indeed the case that many believed Pacquiao, despite the closeness of previous fights, would defeat Marquez with ease, just as Mayweather had done. Alex Ariza, Pacquiao’s conditioning coach, even predicted that his fighter would “knock out Marquez within six rounds”. Many will point to Marquez’s approach as being a thorn in Pacquiao’s explosive style but others will look at the Philippine’s commitments elsewhere. In May 2010, Pacquiao was elected to the House of Representatives in his homeland, representing the province of Sarangani. Since then, he has produced questionable performances, especially against another Mexican, Antonio Margarito, and some observers query how long Pacquiao will stay in boxing before turning his full thoughts on the political world.
This therefore leaves a decreasing amount of time for what would be the most expensive fight in history – a clash between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. However, for Pacquiao, that ‘thorn’ of Marquez may not have been removed just yet. The controversy of the result has led many to call for a fourth fight between the two men and in the post-match press conference, Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, admitted that “[Marquez] has given us problems three times now. I do think he deserves a rematch first.”
And so, it looks like the wait between the top two boxers in the world must wait and Pacquiao must dispatch Marquez once and for all, before fans can lick their lips at the prospect of a more mouth-watering clash. That is, of course, assuming the two camps can settle on a contract agreement, the split of the purse and bypass the drug tests that Mayweather is insisting both men take pre- and post-fight.