With Manny Pacquiao third meeting against Juan Manuel Marquez coming up next weekend, Anthony Wilson takes a look at the Filipino southpaw's history of November conquests.
On November 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao will engage rival Juan Manuel Marquez for a third time. Their first two fights were classics that could have gone either way: the first ended in a draw (though, if one of the judges had correctly given Pacquiao a 10-6 round for a three knockdown first stanza, he would have been declared the winner); the second was a split decision win for Pacquiao (the difference being a single Pacquiao knockdown in the third round) that many observers felt Marquez edged.
Their ensuing clash, however, is expected to feature no such ambiguity. As he did when he was thoroughly outclassed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September of 2009, Marquez, the genuine lightweight champion of the world, will have to move up two divisions to welterweight for the Pacquiao fight. He won’t be outsized, as he was against Mayweather, but the weight will likely be an issue again. Michael Nelson of The Cruelest Sport is right when he says that "Mayweather, of course, has made many an accomplished opponent look silly, so nobody knows exactly how much the added weight factored in Marquez’ lopsided loss." But it only stands to reason that a true lightweight - and natural featherweight - would struggle against a special welterweight like Mayweather, and Pacquiao, of course, is a special welterwight as well.
Another reason for Marquez supporters to be discouraged? Well, ten years ago today, Derek Jeter hit the game-winning homerun in the tenth inning of Game 4 of the 2001 World Series. The homer came just moments after the clock had struck midnight in New York and signaled the first time a Major League Baseball game that counted had been played in November. It earned Jeter the nickname "Mr. November" – but considering his overall resume, I’d say Pacquiao is more deserving of the title. He owns the month. He owns a few months, of course, but he’s had more memorable performances in this one than any other. A look back at his last four fights in November show four of his most dominating, and devastating, outings.
11-15-2003 Manny Pacquiao TKO 11 Marco Antonio Barrera – Pacquiao’s breakthrough performance came against the great "Babyfaced Assassin." Considered at the time to be one of the very best fighters in the sport pound-for-pound, four of Barrera’s previous five trips to the ring had seen him defeat Kevin Kelley, Johnny Tapia, archnemesis Erik Morales (in the second part of their classic trilogy), and Prince Naseem Hamed. Which is why it came as a complete shock when Pacquiao, then a relatively unknown fighter from the Philippines, ambushed and battered the legendary Mexican over ten-plus brutal and one-sided rounds. Pacquiao became an overnight star.
11-18-2006 Manny Pacquiao KO 3 Erik Morales – The final part of Pacquiao’s great trilogy with Morales saw him tear through another storied Mexican badass. After losing a competitive but clear unanimous decision in their first encounter, Pacquiao evened the score in their second meeting with a late stoppage victory. The rubber match saw him prove his superiority in convincing fashion, as he knocked the grand Morales down three times – once in the second and twice in the decisive third – and continued his rise up the boxing stratosphere.
11-14-2008 Manny Pacquiao TKO 12 Miguel Cotto – At the expense of a proud Puerto Rican champion, Pacquiao made history by becoming the first fighter in history to win world titles in seven weight classes. It was only three fights earlier that Pacquiao had moved up from 130-lbs, bloodying the face a courageous David Diaz in a drive-thru at lightweight. Pacquiao then made a two-division jump up to welterweight, where he shockingly beat into retirement an Oscar De La Hoya who would’ve needed no less than a time machine to have stood a legitimate chance. A step down to 140-lbs to author a frightening second round knockout of Ricky Hatton preceeded the biggest test of Pacquiao’s career: a meeting with a genuine welterweight, one of the best 147-lb fighters of the era, Miguel Cotto. The De La Hoya fight having been dismissed as evidence, the jury was still out on Pacquiao the welterweight. Eleven-plus rounds of virtually one-sided savagery later, the verdict was in: Manny Pacquiao was a devastating welter.
11-13-2009 Manny Pacquiao W 12 Antonio Margarito – Pacquiao moved up in weight once again to extend his own record by winning a world title in an eighth division. In doing so, he gave Margarito – only 17 lbs heavier on that night - the worst beating he’s administered yet: Cotto’s face was bloody and swollen by end of the fight; Margarito’s was disfigured.
Now, certainly, all four of these wins carried with them mitigating factors: Barrera and Morales, participants in many a wars (none more violent than they ones they waged with each other), were both shopworn versions of their former selves. Cotto was post-Margarito (and whatever he did or didn’t have in his gloves) and forced to drain an extra two lbs below the welterweight limit; Margarito got destroyed by Mosley, suspended a year for attempting to illegally load his handwraps before that fight, looked bad in his first fight back/tune-up, and then had to drain four lbs beneath the junior middleweight. In other words, neither of them were at their best, either.
Nevertheless, it would be unfair to say they weren’t impressive, in particular because of the utter destruction that marked them.
Of course, none of this actually has anything to do with whatever takes place in the ring in less than two weeks. But you should still recognize: November is Manny Pacquiao’s month. Let us celebrate him.
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