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After suffering three extremely close setbacks to Manny Pacquiao, who many consider the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, the talk coming from Juan Manuel Marquez’s training camp leading up to their recent non-title welterweight match was that he wanted to knock out the Filipino strong man.

In other words, leave no doubt about who the better man is, and certainly don’t let the judges decide who won.

Few thought it could actually happen, but it did, and when Marquez landed that short right hand to the Pac-Man’s face with one second remaining in the sixth round, it sent the eight-division and 10-time world champion face forward as Referee Kenny Bayless counted him out.

And just like that it was over as the stunned capacity throng of more than 16,000 fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena couldn’t believe what it had witnessed because Pacquiao was ahead by one point on all three judges’ cards, and seemed to be in control.

“I wanted to knock him out,’’ said Marquez, whose three previous battles with Pacquiao were a majority decision loss in November of 2011, a spilt decison defeat in March of 2008, and a draw in May of 2004. “I threw the perfect punch. I was a little desperate because I knew that he could knock me out.”

Pacquiao admitted he may have taken matters for granted. “I was careless,’’ he said. “I didn’t see the punch. That’s boxing. I did my best.”

The way in which Pacquiao went down and didn’t move for more than a minute, it’s a good bet he didn’t see the punch because he walked right into it.

Pacquiao (54-5-2 with 38 knockouts) has now lost two straight fights. After losing to Erik Morales in March of 2005, Pacquiao had reeled off 15 consecutive victories before dropping a controversial split decision to undefeated Timothy Bradley Jr. in June.

The bout began with Pacquiao, who landed 37 percent of his total punches compared to Marquez, who found the mark 21 percent, taking the first minute or so, but the Mexican, a four-division and five-time king rallied and had his moments late.

After a slow start in the second round, Pacquiao, who located the target on 46 percent of his power shots, dominated the middle portion of the round as he landed multiple lefts.

Marquez, who connected on 27 percent of his power blows, rallied and countered with left hooks toward the end of the round.

In the third round, Marquez decked Pacquiao with a powerful right hand and about 1:12 left.

Pacquiao found his touch halfway through and banged away at Marquez’s head and body.

Marquez is the ultimate counter-puncher and came on late with two wicked rights.

It became a chess match in the fourth round as both scored, but Marquez connected with two right hands just before the bell.

The fifth round will be talked about for decades to come as it was one of the most action-packed three minutes in recent memory.

Each side took no prisoners and both warriors landed heavy bombs, but the round was Pacquiao’s because he floored Marquez (55-6-1 with 40 KO’s) with a compact left and may have also broken his nose which was bloodied.

Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at richsports5@sbcglobal.net.

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