Pacquiao stunned as Marquez delivers knockout blow with stunning sixth-round shot in brutal 'Fight of the Year'
13:34 GMT, 9 December 2012
Manny Pacquiao gives straight answers even after he’s been knocked cold in the upset of the new century, as he was by his perennial rival Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday night.
‘I’m open to a fifth fight between us,’ said the PacMan once he had regained consciousness. ‘Why not fight again’
Why not, indeed, when the early returns from the fourth edition of this saga suggest gross takings of $85 million. Why not, now that this knock-out with one second remaining in the sixth round has almost certainly put paid to the even richer prospect of a dream fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
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Knockout blow: Marquez celebrates after stopping Pacquiao in the sixth round
The question which remains unanswered, however, is exactly how Senor Marquez, at the grand sporting age of 39, has developed a physique like the Incredible Hulk and nuclear power in his right fist.
If the world were as simple as when we were starry-eyed kids, we would have awoken with an almighty hangover on Sunday morning after joining thousands of Mexicans in their tequila-soaked celebrations here.
Instead we are walking gingerly on egg shells.
Stunning shot: Marquez lands the bout-winning right hand in the sixth
Knockout blow: Marquez lands the bout-winning right hand in the sixth
The world is not so simple when the victor of what might well be voted the Fight of the Year has to keep denying that his body-building transformation has been achieved with the help of performance enhancing drugs.
Marquez puts it down to incredibly hard work. We hear him but we also know that his physical conditioner is the man who confessed to supplying steroids to shamed US Olympic athletes Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery.
It feels horribly churlish to withhold unqualified praise for Marquez’s achievement in flattening, at the fourth attempt, the Filipino idol who went into this tumultuous weekend as one of the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. But if you hire as your dietician Angel Heredia – or whatever he calls himself at the moment – you must know that you will invite suspicion.
The PacMan: Pacquiao makes his way out to the ring
Everyone was dancing around the issue once Pacquiao was back on his feet and en route to hospital for precautionary tests.
His master trainer Freddie Roach has raised questions previously, but, more diplomatically, said: ‘His body has developed as he gets older and he’s punching harder. His power has improved and he hurt Manny a lot more with his right hand than in the past fights.’
That much was obvious for all to see as Pacquiao was decked in the second round before being knocked head-first into oblivion at the end of the sixth. His wife Jinkee was in weeping distress at the sight of her husband lying prostrate under a rope but once her husband had been revived he consoled her on his way to congratulating Marquez.
He remains a gentleman in defeat – and arguably still the greater boxer than Marquez even though the clear and decisive outcome which both sought in this re-re-re-match went to his nemesis, not himself.
Sighter: Pacquiao lands a left in the first round
Smiles better: Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (right) was in the crowd
Pacquiao, with his crisp right jabs, in-and-out attacks and whiplash lefts controlled this fight with the exception of taking those two huge blows. He recovered from his first knock down to dump Marquez on the seat of his pants in the fifth.
For the most part Pacquiao dominated from his quick-fire response to the first bell until that single second before it would have rung to end the sixth.
Marquez, his nose broken and his face lacerated, was on the brink of defeat when Pacquiao sensed a KO of his own, became over-excited and walked onto his opponent’s desperation punch.
‘We made one mistake and got knocked out just as we were about to win,’ said Roach. ‘It happens in boxing. But I didn’t see any signs of deterioration in Manny. When we get back in the gym I will advise him to retire if I see bad things. But I don’t expect that.’
On the charge: Marquez takes the attack to Pacquiao
Floored: Pacquiao hits the canvas after Marquez connects with a right in the third
Marquez was also showing signs of concussion when he returned to the dressing room and he, too, had to go to hospital.
With both men determined to bring their dispute to an abrupt and finite conclusion, promoter Bob Arum compared this with the historic battle between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns which is regarded as the greatest three rounds in ring history.
Arum is probably right in arguing that Mayweather-Pacquiao could still be a $200 milllion pay-TV bonanza. As he says: ‘Losing a fight, even by knock-out, is not death.’ The problem is that Mayweather now has the perfect excuse for declining to put at risk the unbeaten record he cherishes. He did, after all, defeat the pre-muscular Marquez quite comfortably a couple of years ago.
Toe-to-toe: Both fighters were intent on attacking
Old acquaintances: The pair were meeting for the fourth time in their careers
Pacquiao-Marquez Five is another matter. The series continues to court the kind of controversy which, along with the intensity of the fighting, makes for good box office.
Marquez bitterly protested the results of their first three contests, a draw and two narrow decisions in favour of Pacquiao. Now he finds his night of redemption clouded by insinuations of drug abuse.
That will bring a sense of unfairness crowding in on him which will seem as over-powering as the roaring support he had in the Grand Garden Arena.
False dawn: Marquez had a wobble in the fifth after a left jab from Pacquiao
This was the night which was supposed to resolve their personal dispute once and for all.
Rather, it begs the question of a fifth encounter.
One for which the preparations need to be monitored, by wicked irony, by the Olympic standard blood testing which a certain Mr Mayweather is campaigning to make mandatory in boxing.
So when will it all end The PacMan may have to answer that, too. Whenever he decides to retire into politics full-time.
Floored: Pacquiao was face down on the canvas for some time
Job done: Marquez celebrates his victory
VIDEO: Reactions after Marquez knocks out Pacquiao in sixth round
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