Boxing’s best rivalries always leave fans wanting more. Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are this generation’s best example of that. It was understandable when, after fighting to a draw, people called for a second showdown between the two. After that bout, though, when Pacquiao emerged victorious via an admittedly controversial decision, there’s a reason why people still called for a third match. And a fourth one. And a fifth one.
Make no mistake about it: This is a great rivalry. Great for the cast of characters involved, the sport as a whole and the fans tuning in at home.
Last December, after three previous failed attempts, Marquez finally beat Pacquiao in dominating fashion. His sixth round knockout, nine months later, is still the most thrilling thing to occur in boxing over the past year. That being said, regardless of how clearly awesome it was, Marquez is starting to lean on it a little too much. So much so, in fact, that it’s starting to take a bit of a luster off one of the greatest rivalries this writer has ever witnessed.
"Pacquiao has been saying many things and immediately you can see that he wants me to take the bait, but he won't achieve that,” Marquez told Boxing Scene recently. “What he wants is a fifth fight, but it's not going to happen. I wish to leave this sport with the memory of knocking Pacquiao out after they stole three decisions from me. And [in the fourth fight] I showed who was the better fighter.”
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Okay, let’s pause right there. Marquez showed that he could knock Pacquiao out, and that Pacquiao couldn’t knock him out. That’s all he showed. The fact of the matter is: Pacquiao was winning the bout on every judge’s scorecard prior to the punch that changed everything. Moreover, coming up on the not winning side of things in three consecutive matches prior to the one you won isn’t indicative of someone being “the better fighter.”
That’s not to say Marquez’s accomplishment wasn’t an impressive one. It was. You fight to win, and he won. But there’s only so much you can get out of a single victory, and he’s used up too much to throw out lines like this:
"I'd rather stay with the memory of that lucky punch that I connected on Pacquiao [Marquez was being sarcastic there]. It's about pride and honor, not money. That's why in that contest there was no championship at stake, only the WBO's Champion of The Decade belt.”
Pacquiao has beaten Marquez twice, both times by controversial decision. Marquez beat Pacquiao once via an uncontroversial knockout. Let’s say the latter counts as two wins. By my calculations, that still makes this series 2-2.
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The fans want a tiebreaker. Pacquiao is calling for a tiebreaker. The sport needs a tiebreaker. Will Marquez ultimately agree to one? For the sake of his legacy, he better.