As we count down the days and, at this point, the hours before the third fight between Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao and Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez, let's take a look back at their first two fights.
The first battle between Marquez and Pacquiao took place on May 8, 2004, from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, which will also host Saturday's bout. Pacquiao was still years from breaking out as a superstar, and Marquez was still in the shadow of Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. But Marquez held the WBA and IBF featherweight titles, while Pacquiao was The RING Magazine and lineal champion of the division, having in November 2003 shockingly dominated Barrera in San Antonio.
The style matchup was a lot different in this fight than it will be on Saturday. Pacquiao, then 25 years old, was still a one-handed brawler. His thunderous left hand was a dangerous weapon, and as Jim Lampley noted near the bell of the opening round, his legend was growing from the Wild Card Gym, as tales of injured and bloodied sparring partners poured from Freddie Roach's soon-to-be world famous Hollywood base of operations.
Marquez, at the time three months shy of his 31st birthday, was known as a top counter-puncher. It figured that Marquez could give Pacquiao a very hard time, despite the fact that Manny had looked so ferocious seven months prior in his last bout.
(Quick note: You might also notice on the poster to your right the advertisement of Rising Star Miguel Cotto on the undercard. Cotto defeated Lovemore N'dou over 12 rounds that evening.)
Pacquiao comes out fast, firing his left from range, rushing at Marquez. Marquez keeps his calm and looks to start aggressively himself, while trying to counter Pacquiao's charges. Left hook to the body and a right upstairs from Marquez. Emanuel Steward notes Pacquiao's upper body movement, but lack of rhythm, saying he's wide open. Marquez counters him hard with a right, but Pacquiao bounces off the ropes and fires a straight left, flooring Marquez!
Marquez not hurt, really, and right back up. And the fight is on! Pacquiao ripping the left hands, and Marquez is down again! Steward: "He's not moving his head at all. He's just standing in one position." Back up, fighting on. Pacquiao charging. Marquez with a left, Pacquiao keeps charging and puts Marquez down again. Pacquiao hits him a bit late, but not controversially. Lampley unsure if Marquez can survive this, but he's back up.
Pacquiao laying on the pressure and the left hands, but Marquez is still mostly toe-to-toe with Manny, and fighting OK. Marquez, bloodied, survives the round. Pacquiao 10-6
Jim Lampley: "Manny Pacquiao is a storm!"
Larry Merchant: "Manny Pacquiao coming at Marquez like a typhoon across the Pacific."
Worth noting: Merchant says, correctly, that Marquez is "the bigger-looking fighter in the ring." Steward really harping on Marquez not moving his head. Marquez willing to be stalked now, slowing down the pace a bit. Pacquiao still hunting with the straight left, and landing it. Marquez's nose bleeding heavily. Marquez, about halfway into the round, stars countering back, landing a left hook and a stiff right hand. Pacquiao still firing the left almost exclusively, but pawing that jab to set it up. But the pace is slowing down, a good thing for Marquez. Marquez with a good left, and then another. Though Manny takes the round, a great bounce-back overall for Marquez. Pacquiao 10-9, Pacquiao 20-15
Now Marquez looking more in control to start the round, both leading and counter. Body shot with a left hook, moments later with a right hand, that one a bit low. Another shot strays a bit low from Marquez, and Manny complains for a second. Marquez starting to counter beautifully, rocking Manny back with a right hand that comes up from under, and slowing down Pacquiao's typhoon. Right hand lead from Marquez. Left hook counter from Marquez. He's finding the rhythm, but there's a left from Pacquiao. After a stronger second round, this is a masterful third round from Marquez, who starts to cerebrally pick his spots and take it to Manny. Marquez 10-9, Pacquiao 29-25
Between rounds, Nacho Beristain tells Marquez that he won the second and third rounds.
Pacquiao more cautious coming forward now, knowing that Marquez will be waiting with the counter shots from both hands. Marquez also starting to pick off Pacquiao's shots, moving backwards effectively, and making Manny miss. Crowd starts to boo a bit as the fight becomes more Marquez's style, but that doesn't last long. It's becoming a chess match, and in 2004, Juan Manuel Marquez was a much better chess player than Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao with left hands getting in, and Marquez shakes him with a right. Marquez 10-9, Pacquiao 38-35
Between rounds, Freddie Roach urges Manny to use his right hook more, with an uppercut behind it.
Pacquiao trying to work in a long right to the body. Marquez just outboxing Pacquiao badly. Marquez shoots low again on a body shot -- that's at least three. Crowd reacts before Joe Cortez thinks to say anything. But yes, he's Mr. Hall of Fame. Marquez starts tearing into Pacquiao with right hands, hurting him a bit, and then lands low blow number four before Pacquiao strikes back with a left hand. They trade for a moment, and then Marquez resets the pace. Marquez again leads the action and lands some good shots. Small cut over Manny's right eye. A third straight round to Juan Manuel Marquez, with the crowd excited, and he lands a right to end the round. Marquez 10-9, Pacquiao 47-45
Slowly, you feel Manny Pacquiao's confidence plummeting.
Pacquiao and Marquez fighting even for about 1:15, but a MASSIVE looping right from Marquez knocks Pacquiao back to the ropes. Not overdoing it, Marquez maintains control instead of going for an ill-advised kill. He continues to neutralize Pacquiao's left hand, countering and picking it off. There one lands, and gets the blood flowing from Marquez's nose once more. Marquez 10-9, Pacquiao 56-55
Between rounds, Nacho tells Marquez to set up to the body, and Roach gets on Manny to not let Marquez take control of the fight. Too late?
Marquez continues to do the same work he's been doing for the last five rounds, but now looking to loop in more with his right, as Manny has started scouting the straight right hand, as noted by Steward. "Marquez has so many things he can do," Emanuel says. "When you're a seasoned fighter, you should be effectively able to handle a fighter who has one punch." Pacquiao getting recklessly aggressive to land his lefts, but Marquez pops him back with a right. Marquez's lip swelling some. Pacquiao throws the left, Marquez lands a counter right, and then sneaks in a hard right uppercut in close. Marquez to the body, Pacquiao's fans boo but that one seemed plenty high enough. Right hand down the pipe from Marquez, and then he eats a left, but they trade to end the round, with a repeat -- Marquez with a stiff right, Pacquiao with a stiff left. Marquez 10-9, 65-65
Punches thrown per round, Juan Manuel Marquez: 40, 45, 45, 43, 42, 41, 43. Steady as she goes.
Punches thrown per round, Manny Pacquiao: 73, 77, 57, 47, 49, 35, 51. Roach wants Manny to jab more and get control, saying Marquez is getting tired. In the words of Gorilla Monsoon, "Highly. Unlikely."
Pacquiao trying to get himself going again this round, as both try to box now. Pacquiao no longer slugging it out, and the first two minutes are essentially even. Uppercut from Marquez glances, and then a body shot gets in. Manny backing him down, but not close to overwhelming. Marquez with two rights, and Pacquiao is off-balance. Hard right by Marquez, that one to the body. Manny with a left hand, stinging Marquez. Marquez 10-9, Marquez 75-74
Between rounds, Nacho tells Marquez he can't lose any rounds. If he loses rounds, he loses the fight. Roach tells Pacquiao to "finish him."
"When Pacquiao just moves around, he doesn't really box, he just moves around," says Steward. "It looks like he's boxing, but he doesn't really jab too much, he just bounces back and forth, without really boxing."
Lampley adds a moment of supreme insight on a blocked punch: "BLOCKED."
Right to the body by Marquez. Pacquiao just looks totally out of sorts trying to figure out what to do with this guy. Right uppercut from Pacquiao grazes Marquez. Marquez paws, avoids a shot, and throws two rights. Pacquiao with a pair of 1-2 combinations, then another left. He starts turning it up late, and Marquez drives him back with a good shot. Right hand from Marquez, and they trade to close another round. Largely tactical, but Manny got the better shots in, and nicks the round. Pacquiao 10-9, 84-84
At this point, HBO unofficial judge Harold Lederman has it for Pacquiao, 86-82.
More of a tactical approach again this round from Marquez, and Pacquiao trying to find openings for little rushes. Pacquiao with a good left, and Marquez gets back with the right. Another left from Pacquiao, as he looks stronger this round, as Marquez may be starting to tire just that little bit. Left hand again finds Marquez, who has been caught a bit off-guard by the aggression. Almost as if he lulled himself into a false sense of security largely outboxing Pacquiao over the majority of the fight. Another left lands for Pacquiao. A late charge by Marquez isn't enough to take the round. Pacquiao 10-9, Pacquiao 94-93
Pacquiao pushing body shots, but Marquez pops him upstairs with a right hand. Both fighters looking tired, and no knock there: It's been a tough fight, not so much because of amazing action, but because both are constantly on the move, constantly angling for openings. No real periods of inactivity from either. Maybe not the highest punch output, but they're working just to find shots to throw. Marquez misses a right hand around the side, and Lampley freaks out, "Oh what a big right hand by Marquez! Pacquiao took it pretty well!" Manny not firing the left off as much this round, but there's one with 40 seconds to go. Marquez squeaks out the round. Marquez 10-9, 103-103
Marquez boxing again, but not being too careful -- showing enough aggression to not lose the round just on aggression. Right hand thuds off of Pacquiao's glove. In fact, Marquez is just aggressive enough to largely shut down a tired Pacquiao's offense. Manny throws the 1-2, is a bit short, Marquez counters, and Manny gets a shot in. Marquez chopping away at him. Left hand from Manny down the pipe after Marquez controls a little bit more. A minute left and it's a winnable round for both with the right work. Pacquiao lands the 1, misses the 2. Marquez chopping away again. Marquez blocking shots as Lampley declares this the 2004 Fight of the Year. In May. Both throwing to end the fight, and I tip the round, and the fight, to Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez 10-9, Marquez 113-112
The Settled Dust
Offiicial judges' scores were 115-110 for Marquez, 115-110 for Pacquiao, and 113-113 -- a draw. Judge Burt Clements later admitted he should have scored the first round 10-6 and not 10-7, which would have given Pacquiao his card, 113-112, and resulted in a split decision for the Filipino.
I scored this fight for Marquez, but I think it's defensible either way. It's an exceptionally close fight. As has been repeated ad nauseam of late, there is very little to separate these two great fighters over their first two bouts. I happened to like Marquez's work a bit better for enough rounds (8 of the 12) that it tips to him despite Pacquiao's 10-6 opening frame. Scoring even one round differently, and giving it to Pacquiao to make it 7-5 Marquez in rounds, gives the fight to Manny because of that ferocious first three minutes. And you can give more than one of my Marquez rounds to Manny, I believe, but you could also give Pacquiao as few as three rounds, or as one judge gave him, two.
They were evenly matched, to say the very, very least. How do you score this one?