Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III: Expectations, the swaying power of sentiment and the 10-point must system
By Ace Freeman (13-Nov-2011)
Live on location in Las Vegas, Ace Freeman reflects on Manny Pacquiao’s closely contested victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in their eagerly awaited third fight.
Fight night in Vegas, and not all of the violence happened inside the ring. In fact, tensions reached a boiling point in the crowded aftermath in the halls and walkways of the MGM Grand.
It was a polarizing fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez… much like the first two times they danced.
Both men claimed victory but the most aggressive vigor I saw was among the fans exiting and many of my fellow cohorts in the media room.
While I had Manny Pacquiao ahead 115-113 on my scorecard, there was no doubt that on this night the biggest victory belonged to Juan Manuel Marquez, for it was a moral one.
The proud Mexican warrior took Manny Pacquiao to the brink once again. He pushed him like no man has since the last time they clashed in 2008. While Pacquiao went on to dominate bigger and stronger men, Marquez showed once again on this night that he has a style better suited to fighting Manny Pacquiao than anyone in recent years.
But unfortunately for Marquez, a moral victory doesn’t necessarily equate to a coveted “W” in the win column.
Boxing is scored on a ten point must system. Under the system, the judges must give the winner of a round 10 points, and the loser 9 points or fewer. What we witnessed tonight were twelve individual rounds that needed to be added up when they were completed to find a winner.
In my opinion, that winner was Manny Pacquiao.
I concede that it was a very close fight… much like Pacquiao and Marquez’s first two encounters. Like those battles, I have absolutely no problem with anyone seeing tonight’s fight in Marquez’s favour and it is not my intention to convince anyone otherwise.
But a robbery, this fight was not.
Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield 1 was a robbery. George Foreman vs. Shannon Briggs was a robbery.
Calling what we witnessed tonight a robbery cheapens the term.
I did think Juan Manuel Marquez landed the better quality punches in the fight… but I found them to be few and far between. There simply were not enough of them in succession, or consistently in enough rounds consecutively.
In just about every round it was Manny Pacquiao coming forward, and doing so as the aggressor.
He threw more punches, and (unlike their first two bouts) he landed more as well.
Yes Marquez was brilliant in his counter attack. His science was sweet, but it was by no means the dominant factor in the fight.
There were also several rounds (most notably the first) that were uneventful and could have been scored in either man’s favour if you are looking at them objectively.
That makes for a fight that could have gone either way when all was said and done. Again, much like their first two tilts.
One thing that resonated loudly on this particular night in Sin City was sentiment.
Juan Manuel Marquez was a huge underdog according to the Las Vegas odds-makers.
They weren’t alone. The majority of media outlets and boxing fans had foreseen a telling and resounding Manny Pacquiao victory.
In the immediate aftermath of the fight, I saw and spoke with many (some who were fuming) who seemed to allow that sentiment to resound louder than objectivity.
The act of Marquez being much more competitive than almost everyone thought would be the case seemed to be the dominating story on this night, and it was complimented nicely by the disappointment Manny Pacquiao obviously felt and exuded at not dominating this fight like he (and many) hoped he would.
As Pacquiao has been so dominant in marquee fights in recent years, the expectations placed upon him have mounted. While it was clear on this night he failed to meet the expectations of most fans, pundits and most importantly himself… those same expectations should not be allowed to affect the way a boxing match is scored.
At the end of the day when we look at tonight’s fight as twelve individual rounds, there is only math.
While sentiment and story-lines surrounding these mega-fights often prove more intoxicating than many substances available in these Las Vegas casinos… at the end of this night we saw another competitive bout between two gallant warriors that – when looking at it subjectively – could have been scored for either fighter within the realm of reason.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?