Manny Pacquaio’s devastating knockout loss on Saturday evening has brought about displays of both the sports greatest, enduring qualities and it’s ugly, more recent, tendencies. Juan Manuel Marquez, seemingly possessed by a need to train harder than he ever has before in the desire to prove all his doubters wrong, achieved a remarkable victory. Both fighters prior to Saturday’s fourth showdown made it clear their ultimate goal was a knockout victory, leaving no chance of a dubious judging decision deciding who would be declared victor.
It was by far the most impressive and emphatic win in Marquez’ nearly 20 year career. At the age of 39 and surely winding down his days in the ring he scored his most outstanding victory. In it he displayed a normally absent agression and desire to KO his opponet. Gone was his usual cautious, counter punching style, the style that has taken him to the top of the fight game. He found a different Marquez, a more savage and predatory fighter within himself. Had he been fighting this style his entire career and knocking opponents out in the manner he KO’ed Pacquiao he surely would be alongside Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather as the sports top stars.
Instead Marquez had typically resigned himself to a style not necessarily attractive to the casual fan. Those who revere the art and intricacies of the fight game have always admired Marquez, but the casual fan is a more blood thirsty one whom isn’t initiated in the finer points of ring generalship and the tricks that make good fighters great. Sure Marquez had the ability to wear opponents down with displays of technical expertise, leading to late knockout or TKO victories through attrition, but his skull crushing KO victory of Pacquaio seemed to be coming from a different fighter.
Surely one of the greatest triumphs in recent years, in one of the greatest big time fights fans have had the pleasure of watching in some time. Round 5 was surely Round of The Year and the knockout has to be a surefire candidate for KO of The Year. We fight fans don’t regularly get these moments as all too often the big fights can’t live up to the hype. This one did. So why can’t we simply celebrate this fact?
Instead what has occurred in the same thing we hear all too often nowadays when a great fighter loses. Gone is the respect and adulation piled upon the star, ridicule and doubt over their legacy replacing it. It was at one time, and for a very long time, understood that even the best fighters lose. No one was unbeatable, just like the old adage of “Any Given Sunday” contends. Anything can happen on a fight night.
One would hesitate to call Marquez’ right hand a lucky shot. He’s too talented to call it a lucky shot. But it was a perfect punch, the sort that any fighter throughout history would have gone down from. Before that punch, coming at 2:59 of a sixth round Pacquiao was controlling, the action was back and forth. All three judges had Pacquaio up by a single point. Many of the rounds were too terribly close to call with any real certainty.
But this is boxing and that one punch can forever change anything. That’s what occurred on Saturday, and what has led to far too many questioning just how good Pacquaio ever was. Can you imagine the reaction on Twitter the night of, and day after, “The War” between Marvin Hagler and Tommy Hearns? Hearns would immediately be derided as a bum and overrated. “Sugar” Ray Robinson would have had his career labelled as done after his loss to Carmen Basilio.
Society was different then though, as was the boxing business. We’ve become more reactionary and judgmental, anyone allowed to have an opinion on everything regardless of how informed you are of the subject. All that matters is that you state it as strongly as possible and steadfastly refuse to listen to any other argument. Those that have started to jump to the conclusion that Manny Pacquiao is greatly overrated, never as talented as he was hyped up to be, have proven their own ignorance.
This is a man who had a series of wars against Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and, of course, Juan Manuel Marquez. He’s fought in eight different weight divisions, winning world titles in all. A multiple FOTY winner and also voted Fighter of the Decade by the BWAA, WBC and WBO. These accolades are not things simply made up by a hype machine, these are things won in the ring where you can’t hide. To write off that legacy based on this one loss is criminal.
Simply look at the difference between this weekends fight between Pacquiao and Marquez and last weekends showdown between Miguel Cotto and Austin Trout. In that fight Cotto was clearly outclassed and outworked by a younger opponent who looks primed to take center stage in the boxing world. Pacquiao’s loss to Marquez was nothing of the sort, remaining very close for every round it lasted. Hardly the sort of fight a shot man could put on.
What we’re getting at here is this: a more reasonable and thoughtful response to Pacquiao’s loss. Is he as good as he once was? Maybe not. But was he overrated over the last decade, never the fighter he was made out to be? Most certainly not. But the kind of frightening knockout he suffered Saturday can make one forget about all that has come before it. Put some perspective on it though and it’s a whole different story.
We need to get back to a a discourse that’s more respectful and which places far more importance on information and education. To have an opinion is any mans right. To not have an informed opinion is a tragedy. Before we jump to conclusions and grandiose statements lets think about things a little bit more. If we can remove the idiocy that many are quick to jump to and simply wait, put perspective and then commentate on happenings the boxing world as a whole will be better off.
Manny Pacquiao is one of the greatest fighters of his generation, and arguably THE best. What fans witnessed Saturday night wasn’t the funeral of Pacman’s career. It was the defining win of Juan Manuel Marquez’ career. That is what deserves to be celebrated and analyzed.