Two weeks ago I wrote a fanpost on how bland and monotonous seeing a fourth Pacquiao-Marquez was. I was convinced my argument made a point that would be hard to disprove, I thought the fight would once again be close, cautious and misjudged. Then last night 4 bombs were landed. Once by Pacquiao, twice by Marquez (one definitely earning him knockout of the year) and one that hit my pride as a decently knowledgable boxing fan right on the button.
I can honestly say that if you watched last nights fight legally, you definitely got every penny you paid for, a statement that is not often able to be said for fights that get a lot of hype. After a terrible series of 24/7 episodes, including one that showed two birthday parties and the "same old song and dance" press conferences and weigh ins, we got the decisive ending to a 4 fight series in which perhaps the most beloved fighter of our time finally showed he was truly losing the fight with father time. I won't even try to defend my comparison of this fight being the series "Phantom Menace", I was simply wrong, but hat in hand I've been left with a few questions/observations I still feel are worth talking about.
1) The obvious question: Where does Pacquiao go from here?
I read Scott Christ's piece on whether Pac man should hang the gloves up, it was a great article that got quite a lot of feedback. Some people think Pac man should fight once more, end it on W and then call it a career, which I don't quite know if I agree with. It's not that I don't think that Pacquiao dosen't have it in him to win again, in fact I think he could win a belt at 147 easily, but I think that the obvious question is this. What happens if he wins? So many guys lose their ability to be elite and then lose a big time fight and say their gonna come back and get a W before they end their careers, and so many guys make the mistake of seeing that W for something it isn't. If there's one thing I've seen growing up watching every fight, its that guys are rarely able to distinguish a "closure" fight over a legitimate W. The last thing I want to see is Manny come back and get a win and think "hey, I won again maybe I can still do this. Maybe that last fight really was just a fluke." If that happens then he'll get another big fight and take another beating and hurt his career, and very possibly himself. When a guy is "elite" every time he steps into the squared circle is special, we always bitch and moan when we feel like a matchup is too easy for an elite guy, but the fact is we all still go out of our way to see the guy fight despite complaining and doing whatever we can to say we want to see better fights, and theres a reason for that. Elite guys contain something special, something you don't see everyday. In a sport where just to make it to the prize fight level you have to be able to punch someone in the face and get punched in the face by guys who commit every moment of their lives training and hoping to one day be a success, a special guy is something rare. Special guys don't just win, there's a difference between a winner and a star, a star goes out and makes people see that he is so far beyond the other guy that it almost looks effortless, it looks like the guy is toying with someone who can't do a thing to win. Manny Pacquiao's career will always be regarded as special, but he should look around at other guys who were special and learn from their mistakes. The one guy that sticks out in my mind is Roy Jones Jr. He is my favorite all time fighter, partially because I grew up watching him fight, he was really the guy that drew me to the sport, but he did things that no one else does. The way he fought would get just about anyone else knocked out, the things he said, the way he would antagonize, etc were truly things that made him a step above anyone else. You can say that it was because of limited quality competition or whatever else you want, but my point is that once that was gone, he was just a decent fighter. Yet he still continues to fight and tarnish his legacy. Both him and Pacquiao had points in their career where the thought of anyone connecting a damaging blow was absurd, and like Jones, Pacquiao finally got to the point where it is no longer absurd to think he can be hurt. I don't want to see Pacquiao fight and be touchable, I think that it'd be an injustice to the everything he's done up to this point, and ultimately I'd love to be able to see him for what he was until 12/7/2012 not what he might be after.
2) Marquez's win most impressive of the series?
There have been a lot of great fights in the Pacquiao-Marquez series, they've been some of the closest, most exciting fights of a decade, so is Marquez's 6th round KO victory the most impressive fight? I think its going to go down as the most decisive, the clearest obviously, but to me the most impressive fight was the first. I take nothing away from Marquez, he did the unthinkable last night, and he's going to win knockout of the year. This win allows Marquez to never have to talk about Manny Pacquiao again if he dosen't want to, and it made all of the other fights worth having for him. Either way he'll probably be most remembered for this fight, and even with impressive wins against other guys, I think he'll be most proud of this fight when he decides to hang them up, but still I have to say I felt like the true nature of both guys is best displayed in their first bout. That fight was a true war, Marquez got up from three knockdowns in the first round when at the time everyone thought the fight wouldn't last till the 4th round, and came back to arguably win nearly every round after that. It was incredible, it was something you never see, and it was something I don't think people expected. I think this fight was too, but the heart present in that fight for me makes it the one I'll regard as my favorite.
3) Something Fishy?
Everyone went into this fight knowing the comments that Freddie Roach had made would have some kind of impact on what people would think if Marquez got the win, even with Roach backing down on his comments the damage is done when that kind of accusation gets thrown around. The remarks will be near impossible to prove or disprove, but I think that its a shame if Roach's words were unfounded. I didn't honestly think that Marquez looked unnatural or that his body changed completely from the last time the two went at it, look at the weigh-ins for both of the fights and you'll see he pretty much looks exactly the same, he's had that same "armor" looking body type so to me I don't see how it became a big thing. So to me its just a shame that anything was made of it. Look at the pics of previous weigh ins to this one and you'll see there really isn't a shocking change at all, it was just an easy shot because of his new strength and conditioning coach.
4) How big of a factor was strategy?
Going into this fight, everyone knew both guys were looking to stop the other guy. Freddie Roach even went as far as paying Pacquiao if he knocked down sparring partners. Its true many people including myself have been critical of Pacquiao not putting his foot on the gas, especially after the Bradley fight, so I'm wondering if Pac Man wanted the knockout so bad he allowed himself to be exposed to shots he wouldn't have taken in the past. I think it probably played some factor in the two knockdowns last night, but I'm still unwilling to put all the blame on his strategy. Ive said for a while that Pacquiao has gone back to really being a one handed fighter, all of his effective punches have been coming from his left as of late, something that Roach tried to teach him not to do early in his career. I can't seem to find the Compubox stats for this fight (amazing that the one time I'm interested in what they say they aren't readily available) but they might just tell a story that people should see. Marquez knows Pacquiao better than anybody, maybe he knew if manny only went for powershots with his left that he could wait and throw some effective, powerful shots not having to fear his right.
Okay thats it.