Manny Pacquiao earned two very controversial decision victories over Juan Manuel Marquez. Either or both of those bouts could have ended with the other fighter’s arm being raised and nobody would have batted an eye.
Juan Manuel Marquez earned his lone victory over Manny Pacquiao with a brutal knockout that will go down in boxing lore as one of the greatest fight finishers of all time. His win was definitive. It left no room for questions.
And yet questions are all I have at this point.
How did Marquez, at age 39, come into this thing boasting unquestionably his most muscular physique ever? What role did Angel Hernandez (a.k.a. Angel Guillermo "Memo" Heredia), a man who previously admitted to providing the likes of Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin with performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), play in helping Marquez attain that physique? Why did an admittedly spectacular right that Marquez had thrown and landed countless times over their four fights against one another knock Pacquiao out cold this time?
There could be legitimate answers to all those questions – but that doesn’t mean those questions shouldn’t be asked. For years suspicion of PED use surrounded Pacquiao when all anyone had to go on was the word of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and a handful of guys who Pacquiao had beaten; yet nobody thinks it’s suspicious that Marquez came into this bout with a completely different body?
The PED question should be asked. It’s not out of bounds.
Was Marquez on something?
Before he got dropped, Pacquiao was winning this fight 47-46 on every judge’s scorecard. He landed more jabs (26-11), power punches (68-41) and total punches (94-52) – and he did it all at a more effective rate (substantially higher percentage in each category). Despite the fact that Marquez delivered a knockdown that was far more impressive than the glove drop that Pacquiao forced in the fifth round, the latter was still winning. He was more aggressive. He was controlling the pace of the bout. Had all things remain unchanged (a stupid thing to say after six rounds, but stay with me here), he would have walked out of MGM with a victory.
It feels terrible to speculate about Marquez. He worked so hard for this win, and it was a very long time coming. There is no denying that he is an absolute legend in boxing. But when you associate with the likes of Angel Hernandez, come in at age 39 with more muscle tone than you ever had in your life, and win a huge match specifically because of your newfound power, questions will be raised.
Here is to hoping that Marquez won this honestly and fairly, and that he proves idiots like me wrong when it’s all said and done. But I don’t think any of us will be too shocked if that’s not how this thing ultimately turns out.