Four Years Too Late: The Pacuiao-Marquez Rematch
By Geoffrey Ciani: When Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez first squared off, both men were largely seeking an identity. For Marquez, he had spent his entire career stuck on the outside looking in, while fellow Mexican pugilists Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera both shared the limelight. For Pacquiao, he was looking to build on his upset victory against the aforementioned Barrera and prove to the world that he was the real deal. Their contest represented a chance for each fighter to make a statement, and at the end of the contest, each fighter succeeded in doing so despite the inconclusive verdict..
Article posted on 14.03.2008
The fight started off with an abundance of fireworks, as Pacquiao proceeded to drop his Mexican foe three times in the opening round. Watching the action unfold, I was actually surprised that referee Joe Cortez did not stop the fight after the third knockdown. After all, Marquez appeared extremely disoriented, and nobody would have blamed Cortez for halting the bout, especially given that Marquez was being beaten from pillar-to-post as he stumbled throughout the ring like a drunken sailor. Thankfully, Cortez allowed Marquez to continue, and what transpired was one of the more unusual bouts in recent memory.
Somehow or another, during the following round, Marquez managed to avoid the thunderous blows which thrice floored him in the first. Although he was not doing much in terms of offense, he afforded himself a chance to regain his legs, and he began to get a better feel for Pacquiao’s timing. This was a key round for Marquez, as he exuded an aura of bravery that, unbeknownst to us at the time, helped him overcome the first round fiasco enabling him to make a fight out of what appeared to be an early knockout in the makings.
By the third round, Marquez was already doing much better, and it appeared as if the first round was long behind him. As Marquez established his distance and stayed out of harm’s way, he was able to start mustering an offense, largely precluded on his impeccable counterpunching capabilities. The deadly left hand of Pacquiao was now being tamed by good movement, defensive instincts, and an ability to maintain a proper distance. What initially looked like an early blowout was suddenly becoming a one-sided exhibition in favor of Marquez.
Before the final decision was announced, I remember thinking to myself that the scorecards were going to be all over the place on this one, and they were. The final tallies read 115-110, 110-115, and 113-113—a most unusual blend! Personally, I had scored the bout 113-112 in favor of Pacquiao, which would have been identical to judge Burt Clements’ scorecard had he scored the opening round 10-6 instead of 10-7. Clements later admitted that he should have scored the bout 10-6, as he was erroneously under the impression that you could not score a 10-6 round under the rules at play. This may well have cost Pacquiao the fight, but that mattered little at the time. A more pressing issue was, When will these two fight again?
If ever there was a fight that warranted an immediate rematch, this was it! Yet, for whatever reason, it never materialized. Instead, Marquez had a series of low-profile fights, including one which he lost against an obscure fighter by the name Chris John. Meanwhile, Pacquiao fought a series of high profile fights, which included a trilogy with the aforementioned Mexican legend, Erik “El Terrible” Morales. The more time passed, the less likely it appeared these two would ever meet again.
Recently, both fighters hold a win over the other Mexican legend, Marco Antonio Barrera. If their respective bouts with Barrera are any indication, this should be a competitive bout between two of the best fighters in the game. Of course, both fighters have aged nearly four years since they last fought, and that probably equates to a slight disadvantage for Marquez, if for no other reason than the fact he is the older of the two. That said, Marquez’s career has not been defined by the types of wars which defined his Mexican counterparts, Barrera and Morales. Additionally, Pacquiao seems a bit complacent these days, leaving many wondering whether or not his mind is fully committed to the task at hand.
That said, Pacquiao had improved considerably since their first encounter, as evidenced by the development of a right hook to compliment the freakish power carried in his left hand. This was best put on display in his rematch with Morales, where Pacquiao began emerging as a multi-dimensional threat. If I had to venture a guess, I would say that Pacquiao’s improvements should give Marquez a little more to think about than the left hand which caused him so many problems in the opening round of their first match.
Even though this fight should have happened three and a half years ago, it should still prove to be an entertaining encounter. In many ways, it may prove more entertaining, for the stakes are even higher this time around. Last time they met, both men were seeking an identity, whereas, this time around, both men have solidified their status as elite talents. Although this rematch is overdue, four years after their first encounter, it has finally come to fruition and fans should be in for a treat. As they say, better late than never.
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