|SCOTT'S BAD LEFT HOOK UNOFFICIAL SCORECARD|
|Juan Manuel Marquez||9||10||8||10||10||10||9||10||9||9||10||10||114|
Photo © Isaac Brekken / AP
Both men fought. Both men bled. Both men put it all on the line, and left every ounce of energy they had in the ring.
One man won, and one man lost. Whether or not I agree that Manny Pacquiao beat Juan Manuel Marquez last night (I scored it 114-113 for Marquez), the fact of the matter is that two of three ringside judges saw what was a tight, hotly-contested, and wonderful fight go the way of the Filipino superstar, Pacquiao.
Every time one seemed to have a definitive edge, his foe came storming back into the fight. The ebb and flow was amazing.
Manny is now 46-3-2, and Marquez is 48-4-1. That's the way it is.
Sadly, though, it rarely just ends that way. Yes, the Marquez camp has the right to say they won the fight in their own minds. And if Juan Manuel hadn't tasted canvas in the third round courtesy a monster shot from Pacquiao, they would've maybe won the fight, or at least had another draw.
If Juan Manuel hadn't so frequently eaten the power shots from Pacquiao, maybe they win.
But the fight was what it was -- a sensational series of momentum shifts, with scoring coming down, basically, to what you like in your fighter. Much of the fight saw Marquez dictate pace and counter-punch, and even totally control the offense in spurts. And much of it saw Pacquiao's raw power and speed make him look too damn good for Marquez.
It was such a good, memorable fight that were this a year with no Vazquez-Marquez III, we might be looking at, ultimately, a Fight of the Year, and at the least a very strong contender. It reminded in many ways of their first encounter four years ago, and in some ways of Marquez's win over Marco Antonio Barrera one year ago.
When the dust settled at Mandalay Bay, both men raised their arms, just like the first time around. And like that first time, scoring could've gone either way. There was no robbery. The cards even read similarly: one strongly in favor of Marquez (115-112), one for Pacquiao (115-112), and one very, very close. This time, that close one had a one-point difference rather than making it a draw.
It was a fight so good that you hated to see one guy have to lose. But someone loses, and that's the sport. Either someone wins or, really, no one wins.
Both Pacquiao and Marquez did their jobs to the absolute best of their abilities last night. Pacquiao hasn't looked so good since he creamed Erik Morales in November 2006. Marquez looked every bit as outstanding as he did in his two wins last year.
Neither man should be ashamed. And while Bob Arum, Pacquiao and Top Rank have no intention of making a third fight, that's just business. Sure, I'd love to see them square off again, but Pacquiao's headed to 135. The fact that he ballooned up 16 pounds between the weigh-in and fight time is a sign that he probably does need to.
The fight was great. Afterward? Well...
Photo © Eric Jamison / AP
I really hate to say what I'm about to say, because I so truly respect and enjoy the two fighters, and I have a great amount of respect for the abilities of Nacho Beristain.
There is not a bigger trio of whiners in boxing right now than the Marquez brothers and Beristain.
It's not that I think they don't have a right to say, "You know what? I think I won that fight." It's Beristain and Co.'s eyeroll-worthy claims that there is some vast conspiracy by the WBC against the Marquez brothers and their trainer.
After wanting to protest calls made against Rafael Marquez two weeks ago -- right calls, by the way -- Beristain called the judging of Marquez-Pacquiao "a disgrace", and has gotten so annoying that even Bob Arum, king of the crybabies, has called down the thunder on the situation.
"One judge had it for Marquez. One had it the other way for Pacquiao. And another judge had it close for Pacquiao, one point. The media was all over the place, some for one guy and some for the other. Grow up and be a man and accept the judges' decision. I know now how stupid I looked all those times when I complained about the decision when I listen to you."
Again, I hate to say it. And I don't hold heat of the moment, emotional comments against fighters. And both fights were close, and both guys have the right to think they won. But they didn't. They lost.
It all just comes off so sadly for what should be remembered as two outstandingly great fights and rivalries. In time, the comments will be forgotten, but right now they just leave a bad taste in my mouth. There's no point to it. Like Arum said, accept the losses, and hold your heads high, because all of you did a great job in both fights.
This is a mentality that unfortunately comes from the fact, though, that too much of boxing's recent history for matchmaking has been based less on fights people want to see than promoters and TV networks getting hard-ons for spotless records. Do you think the public now wants to see the Marquez brothers less than before? That's laughable. The losses raised the profiles of both brothers. They are even more well-known for being great fighters now than they were before.
Juan Manuel and Rafael will both have their chances to be in more big fights. If Manny Pacquiao indeed bolts to the lightweight ranks as expected, who do you think the guy to beat at 130 is going to be? It's Marquez. If Vazquez goes to featherweight, Rafael is the man to beat at 122.
Nacho has in the past led both of them astray with shitty business decisions, and it's understandable if either brother feels a bit burned from past happenings in their careers. But the game, lucky for all of us, has changed, and continues to do so. That's why Shane Mosley and Zab Judah are going to fight each other on PPV coming off of high-profile losses to Miguel Cotto. They both fought very well, put on a great show, and people still want to see them fight.
Competitive losses are not the end of the world. Sadly, I think it's fair to say that a lot of fighters are probably still under the impression that every fight is do or die.
Pacquiao-Marquez III ain't gonna happen without some massive offer from HBO or something unexpected. Pacquiao is headed to 135 pounds to smoke David Diaz before, I fear, running into someone that can punch and is simply too big for him, and Marquez will likely move forward against Joan Guzman or somebody else -- Marquez-Guzman, for the record, is a fight I'd love to see.
When it comes right down to it, we saw a great fight that was worth the $50 pricetag on its own, making up for yet another lackluster, dull (if never outright boring) undercard with no happenings of any real significance. These two men went out and put on a tremendous show, and we should all stand up and cheer them for what they gave us and the sport of boxing.
The image I'll want to remember?
Photo © Steve Marcus / Reuters