Boxing Pay-Per-Views so often turn out to be massive disappointments—none more obvious than the recent Mayweather-Ortiz debacle that ended with controversial cheap shots. I knew, absolutely KNEW, that Pacquiao-Marquez III stood no chance of disappointing, and I was right.
The risk was that what a lot of professionals were saying about Marquez would be true—that he’d be past his prime, and that he couldn’t handle the extra weight it would take to get up to welterweight, and that Manny would walk over him. That all turned out to be complete nonsense.
I never thought the size would be an issue, and in fact, Marquez took much better care to put on real muscle this time than he did when he fought Mayweather at welter a couple years back. It was almost as if he had returning to lightweight on his mind back then, rather than becoming a true welter. Pacquiao has always been basically a lightweight choosing to fight up in size anyway. Marquez, to me, looked much, much bigger than Manny in the upper body, and in fact, outweighed Pacquiao by 2 pounds on the unofficial fight night scale (most of Manny’s weight gain over the years has been in added muscle his massive, tree trunk legs).
It was simply a case of two men whose styles all but cancel each other out. Manny is the consummate aggressor, and Marquez is the expert counterpuncher. People have talked about Manny looking more confused than usual in this fight. I don’t think it was confusion at all—it’s just that he’s eaten a ton of Marquez leather over the past seven years, and he knows exactly what’s NOT going to work. So he took more time and more caution in deciding when to attack.
At the end of the day, judges (rightly, in my view) favor the aggressor in close rounds. When in doubt, I think you should ALWAYS give the nod to the guy forcing the action. When the counterpuncher has clearly landed the more clean, effective blows, give him the round. But the benefit of the doubt SHOULD go to the guy who makes the fight. Manny out-threw and out-landed Marquez, and short of knock downs, that’s going to give him most of the close rounds.
I love Marquez—I’m a fan, I’ll always be a fan. But I think if he goes back and watches it again, he’ll stop whining about getting robbed. I thought he might have won four rounds, MAYBE five. I won’t argue long with someone who gave him six and the draw. You would be very hard-pressed to find seven Marquez rounds. He has no right to complain.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE FUTURE….Actually, I think this couldn’t have worked out any better, in terms of the possibilities of FINALLY putting together the fight that EVERYONE wants to see—Mayweather-Pacquiao. Manny’s relatively pedestrian performance has to at least ease some of Floyd’s fears of fighting him. Floyd is more interested in protecting his unbeaten record than anything else, which is the only reason he’s ducked Pacquiao this long.
A lot of the experts took Manny’s performance on Saturday as proof that he is not in Mayweather’s class—after all, Floyd had absolutely no trouble in dispensing with Marquez, and Manny has struggled toe-to-toe with him three times now. On the one hand, I understand that argument, and you’d have to make Floyd the slight favorite because he’s an even better defensive fighter and counterpuncher than Marquez.
ON THE OTHER HAND…by the same logic, Pacquiao has actually looked BETTER than Floyd against their other three recent common opponents. Floyd won a competitive split decision against Oscar De La Hoya, while Manny nearly killed him. Floyd scored a late knockout win over Ricky Hatton—Manny put him to sleep in 2 rounds. And Manny didn’t lose a second (except for a bogus fake knockdown called late in the fight) against Shane Mosley, while Floyd nearly got knocked out by Shane in the 2nd round before recovering to win a blowout decision.
STYLES MAKE FIGHTS. Plain and simple. There’s something about Manny and Marquez that make them a tough match for each other. It would be that way if they fought 10 times. It takes nothing away from the fact that Floyd and Manny would STILL be an extremely compelling match-up in their own right.
Manny would force Floyd to fight more than he ever has before. He may well knock Manny senseless, but it would be a FIGHT—an absolute war. Floyd’s never had a war. It would be fun to see how he reacts to getting into one.