LAS VEGAS – When the World Boxing Organization welterweight title bout between champion Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez ended last Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, it erupted in noise.
The thinking was Marquez, a 7-to-1 underdog, had pulled off an upset for the ages.
It was not to be as the man regarded by most as the best boxer in the business prevailed by a majority decision.
After ring announcer Michael Buffer told the 16,368 assembled the belt was staying put, there was sustained booing by those pulling for Marquez, which numbered about 75 percent.
In truth, it was that close as Judge Robert Hoyle scored it 114-114, while Dave Moretti had it 115-113 in favor of Pacquiao, and Glenn Trowbridge sided with the Filipino congressman by a score of 116-112.
“It’s very clear I won the fight,’’ said Pacquiao, who improved to 54-3-2 with 38 knockouts, and now owns a 15-fight winning streak. “He’s waiting for me to create action and then counter-punch. He’s looking for a good shot. It’s not easy fighting Marquez because he is such a good counter-puncher.”
For his part, Marquez (142 pounds) was a willing partner, and entered the ring thinking he would get the job done.
“I’m happy about my performance tonight,’’ he said. “I don’t know what I need to do to change the minds of the judges. The people were rooting for me. I won in the ring and with the fans.”
Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach predicted a victory in the sixth round, but admitted the fight was tight.
“Pretty much I was surprised by how it went,’’ he said. “It was a very close fight. I was way off. He has Manny’s number.”
Roach praised the three-division Mexican champ. “Marquez fought a great fight, but we pulled it out in the last two rounds. When Manny moved to his left, that’s when Marquez landed that right hand.”
This is the third meeting between these two future Hall of Famers. In their first encounter in 2004 at 125 pounds, it was ruled a draw, while their next match in 2008 at 130 pounds had Pacquiao earning a split decision.
Afterward there was talk of a fourth clash, perhaps next May, but each camp would have to agree.
Roach said Pacquiao (143 pounds) was never in trouble, and that he carried the action. “Marquez hit him with some shots, but not great shots,’’ he said.
The official statistical punch-sheet backed Roach, a five-time trainer of the year. Pacquiao threw more total punches (578-436) and landed more (176-138). He unleashed more power shots (274-254) with more connecting (117-100), and threw more jabs (304-182) and had more on target (59-38).
But for whatever reason, Marquez (52-6-1 with 39 KO’s) has been able to give the Pac-Man fits in large part because he’s always in attack mode.
Other victims like Shane Mosley and Joshua Clottey were simply happy to endure a dozen rounds with the eight-division king and take their pay check. That’s something Marquez would never do.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.