Juan Manuel Marquez won his fight with Manny Pacquiao last weekend, and it wasn’t close.
The fight itself was close. But the big winner was Marquez, and it might have been better for Manny if he had lost rather than won.
Do you follow?
The short of it, the Bottom Line style takeaway, was this: Manny Pacquiao defeated Juan Manuel Marquez on a majority decision, with scores of 116-112, 115-113, 114-114; CompuBox had Pacquiao landing 117 power punches to 100 for Marquez.
Those numbers don’t mean jack in the overall picture, which is a source of frustration for the casual fan and provides plenty of conversational fodder for the initiated. They aren’t points scored or goals allowed. The judges’ decision is legally binding and goes on a boxer’s record, but doesn’t determine the next fight he takes. Despite the futuristic name, CompuBox “statistics” are nothing more than the judgment calls of a ringside punch tracker.
Someday electrodes implanted under fighters’ skin will register punches and declare winners on cell damage differential. For now, boxing is one of the few sports left where your opinion counts.
It’s my humbleish opinion, after three viewings, that Marquez won a close decision. I scored it twice for him and once for Pacquiao, while admittedly trying to give Manny rounds. This opinion puts me in a majority among the fans who felt that the Mexican won a close decision, and that the judge giving Pacman eight rounds (116) to Marquez’s four (112) was way off base.
Why did I see it this way? I’m looking for clean, hard punches. Marquez landed a few more; a number of those scored by CompuBox for Pacquiao were from his sometimes slappy right hand. I’m also looking for not getting hit (ie “defense”), and Marquez did plenty of that too. Finally, if it’s close on those factors (and it was), I do consider what is broadly termed “ring generalship,” or who controlled the action. Although Pacquiao moved forward a lot more, it wasn’t moving with purpose; Marquez kept stepping out and to his left just enough to keep Manny off-balance and uncertain about when he should attack.
Why are people screaming robbery? Besides the fact that Marquez was guaranteed $10 million in a rematch clause should he have won, I think it’s mostly because Marquez made it his fight, scoring with counterpunches all night. He never let Manny come forward in the rushing demonry that made the Filipino a star, making him look frustrated and confused. In addition, Juan Manuel was such a massive underdog going in that he vastly exceeded expectations, so even a fight that could arguably be scored a draw seems like a big win. All the talk leading up to the fight from the Pacquiao camp was “we’re going to put this guy out for good.” He didn’t.
Also, it’s fun to yell. We can argue over the merits of quarterbacks or point guards, but eventually someone will go to “Scoreboard!” or “Count the Rings!” Percentages and counting stats are endlessly cited. In an age of high-definition instant replay, the results of individual games in the team sports are open to little interpretation. Outrage has been mostly eliminated at the rules and officiating; venom for poor outcomes must be turned on players and coaches. Boxing fandom allows one to access that fount of scorn for misguided authority that otherwise must be directed into the political sphere, and who wants to talk about that.
If you only know these three fights from the record books Marquez has lost twice and drawn once, in a fight he was knocked down thrice in the first round. That these two might very well go at it a fourth time might seem strange, but it means that Juan Manuel Marquez has again shown himself to be one of the best in the world. At 38. That’s winning.
Not only did Marquez win in the Court of Public Opinion, but promoter Bob Arum announced within 24 hours that he was planning on making Marquez-Pacquiao IV, rather than aiming for a Mayweather fight. Not only did this confirm the bias of many after Saturday’s fight that Manny would get picked apart by Floyd Jr. (like Marquez, a counterpuncher, except bigger), it gave Juan Manuel all sorts of leverage in negotiations. Not that he needed more: 37 million households tuned in from Mexico. Percentage-wise, those are Super Bowl-type numbers. Say boxing struggles in the States, even call it dead, but it has plenty of homelands worldwide where it’s doing just fine.
It might not be fair to Pacquiao, but his close win, perceived to be a bit of Vegas favoritism by many, and the fact that he didn’t explicitly admit defeat in post-fight interviews turned him into something of a villain, in the course of an hour. Redemption cycles happen quickly in the fight game, though, and a vintage performance in his next outing can put him right back in the public’s good graces.
Marquez put a cherry on his his good night early Sunday morning, when he left the ring immediately and only deigned to give the HBO interview in his locker room, naked, with a sombrero covering his nether regions. Super cool.
This week’s celebrity sightings
Brad Pitt took a break from his adoptive menagerie to knock out Victor Oganov in Australia, in a cruiserweight bout.
I’ve never actually heard of Tony Conquest, but it’s a pretty great name for a boxer, as well as a Roman emperor or a porn star. He needs a writer, though: his given nickname is “Conqueror.”
Quick Hit Destruct-o Fun
Featherweight Luis Zarazua fights as a pro for the second time on the undercard of this weekend’s Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Peter Manfredo fight. Zarazua’s first pro fight didn’t last too long. You don’t need to watch anything past a minute in this video.
Till next week-ish, keep those feet moving.