The only thing that makes Juan Manuel Marquez’s loss to Manny Pacquiao more egregious one day later than it had been on fight night, is evidence of just how poorly scored the match was.
Taking the pre- and post-fight chatter out of the equation for a moment, though, Saturday night’s showdown between Pacquiao and Marquez was epic.
A 38-year-old challenger who absolutely everyone figured would get knocked out early, found it deep within himself to not only hang with, but in many people’s eyes defeat the No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world. With a simple counter-attack formula that worked even better in 2011 than it had in 2004, Marquez miffed his Filipino counterpart, completely throwing him off his planned line of attack.
Mind you, after the match, Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach admitted that his guy failed to attack Marquez’s body – a strategy that they had outlined together prior to the fight. Why did Pacquiao stray from the gameplan? Because his wily opponent forced him backwards with a lot of counterpunches, traps and defensive -- yet still somehow aggressive -- ingenuity,
But it didn’t end there – that was only half of the equation. Pacquiao too found a way to make the bout interesting, despite his admittedly underwhelming performance in the grand scheme. Despite the fact that he was quite clearly outclassed for most of the fight, the Filipino champion showed his true resolve when he fought back in furious fashion to close out the match. It was his aggressiveness against the more defensive Marquez and his late flurry that tipped the scales (albeit incorrectly) in the eyes of two out of the three judges. (Check out the scores below)
It was classic, exhilarating boxing. A much-needed win, really, for a sport going through a bit of a dry streak in terms of fight night excitement.
The only thing that could sully such a masterful display of heart from Marquez and the unquestionable clutchness displayed by Pacquiao as be battled back in the last two rounds, was another flub by the judges. (This happened in 2004 when Pacquiao was robbed of a victory by a particularly embarrassing error).
And yet, that’s precisely what ended up happening.
By this point we all know the basics -- Glenn Trowbridge had it 116-112. Dave Moretti had it 115-113 and Robert Hoyle had it 114-114.
What only popped up recently, though, are the actual scorecards marked by the judges and the statistics related to the match. Here they are, via the good folks at FightFan.com:
By the numbers, Marquez was more efficient when it came to total punches, jabs and on a per round basis. Pacquiao, on the flip side, landed more punches of every sort, and he landed a higher percentage of his power punches. The results are essentially in line with what everyone watching the bout would expect. Pacquiao was more aggressive and Marquez stayed true to the counter-punching style that earned him a draw in 2004, the style he should’ve stuck with in his 2008 loss, and the style that has given Pacquiao more trouble than any other throughout his career.
Now while aggressiveness has no doubt always been an indispensable part of every fight, it does not compensate or make up for a lack of effectiveness. Pacquiao’s aggressiveness, until the 10th round, never actually translated into anything meaningful. You could easily make the case that the Filipino champion didn’t land his first significant blow of the match until the 10th round.
The biggest surprise from the judges’ scorecards is that the two who deemed the match a Pacquiao win, Trowbridge and Moretti, both gave Pacquiao all but one round beginning from the eighth and ending with the 12th. Most who observed the match had Marquez claiming rounds right up until the 10th, at which point Pacquiao mustered his resurgence.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember the real victim of this mess – Marquez. For the latest in a long line of times, he was robbed because his fighting style doesn’t mesh with what others want it to be. Somehow, being a defensive specialist is okay when Floyd Mayweather Jr. makes a living doing it, but it’s not good enough, for whatever reason, for Marquez.
It’s also important to note that this ridiculous vilification of Pacquiao that has occurred over the last day is absolutely nonsensical. In what way is it his fault that the judges dropped the ball in this one? He has already agreed to a rematch – all that you can ask of any fighter who unjustly got a win nobody thinks he deserved.
And, of course, the biggest loser after Saturday night’s debacle is Floyd Mayweather Jr. Despite the fact that he now no doubt sees that he matches up quite well against his Filipino rival, nobody much cares about him at this point. Marquez has become the guy everyone wants to see square off against Pacquiao, and Mayweather’s big money bout has now officially -- in the eyes of the public, at least -- been placed on the backburner.