Manny Pacquiao’s recent loss to Timothy Bradley wasn’t especially important to fans. They saw it happen, obviously, but nobody actually put much stock into it because they knew the final judgment was a total farce.
Pacquiao landed more punches at a higher efficiency than his counterpart. He was never really thrown off balance at any point during the bout. He absolutely dominated in the final minute of all but two rounds. By any measure you want to use, statistical or otherwise, he was the rightful winner of that match. So when Bradley ultimately got the nod from two inept judges, again, it wasn’t a game-changer in terms of the way that fans viewed Pacquiao.
Fans don’t decide who wins and who loses matches, though.
Pacquiao’s most recent defeat may prove to be a game-changer in the way judges view him. Last November, when he and Juan Manuel Marquez met for the third time, there was a very reasonable case to be made that the latter fighter was the rightful winner. You could argue it either way, obviously, but if what Bradley did could be considered a win – what Marquez did definitely should have counted as a win.
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The reason Marquez didn’t actually upset Pacquiao is because there is a general underyling theory in boxing that judges usually abide by – you have to beat the champ. You can’t fight just as well as him. It can’t be a tie. If you want his belt, you have to take it from him. Marquez fought reasonably well last November, but he didn’t rip the victory away from Pacquiao. That’s why everyone besides the most diehard of Marquez supporters was okay with the way the bout ended.
Now that someone has actually ruled against Pacquiao, though, everything is different. That little benefit of the doubt that the Filipino champ rode to his last win versus Marquez – that benefit of the doubt is gone now. If Pacquiao wants to avoid a second straight defeat, he has to definitively beat down Marquez. And seeing as he hasn’t recorded a knockout since 2009, that may prove to be sort of difficult.
The most interesting thing to watch for this December will be the sort stamina Pacquiao displays from start to finish. Against Bradley, you couldn’t help but feel as though he wasn’t trying until the final minute of all his rounds because he wasn’t sure he had the energy to go 100 percent throughout. That can’t happen this time around.
Pacquiao can’t leave any room for doubt in this one. To beat Marquez for the third straight time, he needs to account for the Timothy Bradley Effect. He has to go into this one almost expecting the judges to rule against him.
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And if this past June was any indication – maybe that expectation isn’t as farfetched as it sounds.