“It seems that both fighters for four years have been leading up to this one night. And here it is.”
-Larry Merchant before the beginning of fight two
“I’m calling it another draw.”
-Larry Merchant after round 12
It was supposed to settle the score. After the controversial draw between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in 2004, the two met again with the hope that a second bout would settle things between the two. It didn’t.
In the four years since he fought Marquez, Pacquiao’s star had risen much higher than the man he fought to a draw. Of course, Pacquiao also learned a lot about becoming a more complete boxer during this time. Some of it was thanks to how his relationship with trainer Freddie Roach evolved, but a lot of it was thanks to Pacquiao learning the best way a boxer can learn something: in the ring.
In the draw against Marquez and his next bout after, a loss to Erik Morales, Pacquiao learned that you have to be a complete fighter if you are going to compete and beat complete fighters. Morales and Marquez’s advantage in the technical aspects of boxing was obvious when both men fought Pacquiao for the first time, as was their endurance; this is specifically what helped Morales gain a decision victory over Pacquiao in early 2005. But Pacquiao did learn, and upped his game considerably as time progressed. He was able to put speed and power into his jab, he developed a mean right hand punch, and he became a fighter that could maintain that speed and power for twelve competitive rounds if necessary.
As Pacquiao evolved as a boxer, his aura and his star power increased. What also increased was his wins against high-quality and name boxers. He spent 2006 getting revenge on Morales by TKO’ing him in January after two 10th round knockdowns that came after two near knockdowns earlier in the bout. Then Pacquiao knocked out Morales in the third round of their rubber match in November. Then, in Pacquiao’s last bout before the rematch with Marquez, Pacquiao defeated Marco Antonio Barrera for the second time. Barrera performed better in the rematch and kept the fight close. Barrera was deducted a point in round 11 for hitting during a break, but never touched the canvas. In the end, Pacquiao was victorious for the second time against Barrera and proceed to a second bout with Marquez.
For Marquez, the four years between his first two fights with Pacquiao was a mix of frustration and accomplishment.
A bout against Morales never came to be because of numerous problems in the negotiations. Then there was Marquez’s bout against Chris John. Marquez fought John, an Indonesian boxer who rarely fought outside of his home country, in an attempt to win John’s WBA featherweight title. Sadly for Marquez, the attempt was an unsuccessful one as Marquez’s tendency to punch low bit him; Marquez was deducted points in rounds 10 and 11 for low blows and ended up losing by decision.
Marquez rebounded and spent 2007 basically getting ready for Pacquiao. He did this with a decision win over Barrera (in the fight before Barrera fought Pacquiao for the second time) and a fairly dominant decision win over Rocky Juarez. With these two bouts, Marquez got the best of both worlds as he got a fighter in many ways like himself with Barrera and a younger fighter who focused more on power with Juarez.
It was announced in late-2007 that Marquez would be defending the WBC super featherweight title that he won from Barrera against Pacquiao. The bout took place again from the MGM Grand Garden Arena and the atmosphere was distinctly different from fight one. This was due to several things: more people were familiar with both men, the events of the first bout, the success both men had achieved since their first bout, and the wait for the rematch.
So on March 15, 2008, Pacquiao and Marquez met for the second time.
The first round on this night was the polar opposite of the wild and crazy opening round nearly four years before. There were no knockdowns and little action for a lot of the round. Marquez landed the first really good punch, a right. Marquez had control of the round until Pacquiao came alive in the final minute, specifically with a quick left that got Marquez’s attention.
With the feeling out process over and done, both men got to work in round two and the action noticeably increased. The first slugfest between the two took place almost two minutes into the round with Marquez landing a body shot and Pacquiao with a quick combination. Marquez got the last big punch of the round in with a big left to Pacquiao’s chin that may have wobbled him. That punch won the round for Marquez on my card.
Round three became the round that this bout became most known for. Why? The same reason as round one of Pacquiao/Marquez I was the most remembered round of that bout: a Pacquiao knockdown took place in the round. In the first bout, Pacquiao scored three knockdowns in round one; in this bout, he only knocked Marquez down once in round three, but it turned out to be a big factor in the judge’s scoring of the bout.
The knockdown came in the final 30 seconds of the round when Pacquiao hit Marquez with a short left to the chin, catching Marquez coming in. It wasn’t a devastating punch as Marquez got up quickly, but it was a very good knockdown by Pacquiao and a rare moment where Marquez, the great technician, made a tactical mistake.
Marquez rebounded from the knockdown and finished the round strong, fending off Pacquiao as he went in for the kill following the knockdown. However, Pacquiao landed the final big punch of this round, one that rocked Marquez to such an extent that he nearly walked to the wrong corner following the bell.
Round four resembled a pure brawl. Pacquiao was the aggressor with Marquez playing defense after taking a few big punches at the end of the previous round. Nevertheless, Marquez matched Pacquiao as far as throwing big punches during the round. Both men picked up the pace as the round went along and the overall tempo of the bout moved up a notch here. This round could be described by three words: big shots landed. And both men were responsible for those three words.
Marquez began to reassert control in round five. The pace slowed down after a round and a half of tremendous action, and this greatly benefited Marquez. Both men had answers for each other, but Marquez’s answers were better, including a few good rights during the final minute of the round. Pacquiao and not Marquez put the final touch on the round by landing a good one-two as both men threw during the final moments and right to the bell.
Marquez assumed full control of round six by turning the round into a boxing match, and Pacquiao played right into it. This was a mistake because for as good as Pacquiao was and how far he had come as far as becoming a complete boxer since the first bout with Marquez, he still wasn’t equipped to win a pure boxing match against Marquez. This became evident in round six as Marquez’s great counterpunching kept Pacquiao at bay. Pacquiao was competitive and made Marquez work for it, but this was Marquez’s round because he was able to implement the strategy he had been attempting to implement for most of the bout.
When a bull sees red, it charges in and goes for the kill. The same could be said for Pacquiao in round seven after an accidental headbutt opened a cut outside of Marquez’s right eye. The cut opened when both men lunged in around the halfway point of the round and clunked heads. After the headbutt, Pacquiao charged in and initiated a wild brawl. This was a tremendous exchange from both men, but Marquez did get away at the end of it and was able to survive Pacquiao’s charge. Like most rounds in this bout, both men finished strong, but in this case it was Marquez that got the better of it. It didn’t win Marquez the round on my scorecard, but it did save him from conceding momentum fully to Pacquiao.
Turnabout is fair play and Pacquiao joined Marquez in having to deal with a cut in round eight when a cut opened around his right eye. Like Pacquiao the round before, Marquez charged in at the sight of his opponent’s blood in the eye area and it was now Pacquiao who had fight off an attack. Pacquiao’s cut was a worse one than Marquez’s and did seem to bother him in the round. Because of this, Marquez was able to land more precise shots than any round up until this point. Pacquiao did fight back briefly near the end of the round, but this round was all Marquez.
Pacquiao’s corner took care of the cut in between rounds and it was only swelling that ended up developing by the right eye. Now Pacquiao went back to work and opened up Marquez’s cut to the point where the ringside doctor had to be brought in to look at it during round nine. It turned out that a second cut had opened up around the same eye, likely during this round. The bout continued as Pacquiao began to take control of the bout back. However, both men finished the round in typical fashion: swinging for the fences right to the bell.
Pacquiao began round ten very strong, staggering Marquez and pinning him against the ropes quickly. Marquez tried to fight Pacquiao off, but it was a losing battle. So, Marquez used movement to get away and began to land with his left off and on throughout the round. Despite this and the slower pace as the round went along, Pacquiao remained in control and drew more blood from Marquez’s cuts.
Marquez’s issues with punches being low finally came into play during the first minute of round eleven when he was warned by referee Kenny Bayless. Pacquiao seemed to take the round off, at least in comparison to the rest of the bout, while Marquez continued to bleed. The lack of activity from Pacquiao was in Marquez’s favor as he fought through the blood from his cuts and did more to win the round than his opponent.
Pacquiao’s more lackadaisical attitude in round 11 bit him to start the final round as Marquez landed a good right in the opening minute and went on the attack. Both began swinging as they had during the earlier brawling periods of the bout with Marquez getting the better of it in this round. Pacquiao wanted the bout to be brawl here, evidenced by how he bounced right back after being knocked into the ropes by Marquez. In my opinion, Marquez won the final round, but Pacquiao got the better of the final trade as the bell to end the bout sounded.
My scorecard for Pacquiao/Marquez II:
Pacquiao 9 9 10 10 9 9 10 9 10 10 9 9 113
Marquez 10 10 8 9 10 10 9 10 9 9 10 10 114
The key to my scoring this bout for Marquez was him outworking Pacquiao in several of the bout’s many close rounds. Pacquiao’s knockdown, like his three in the first bout, came early enough for Marquez to make up the lost ground on the scorecards. Even more important to my scoring this bout the way I did was Marquez finishing much stronger than Pacquiao with the bout up for grabs on my card entering the final three rounds.
Once again, controversy reigned supreme when Pacquiao and Marquez engaged in an instant classic. Opinions and scorecards were mixed with plenty scoring the bout for Pacquiao, plenty scoring it for Marquez, and some scoring it a draw. In the end, next to nothing was resolved between the two, but Pacquiao did get the win and because of that his star was the one destined to shine brightest in the years following this bout.
For the second time against Pacquiao, Marquez felt cheated and voiced that opinion loudly. But when he woke up the following morning, he had to move on and bide his time. Those in attendance, those in press row, those ringside, and those watching at home all knew by the end of their second bout that Pacquiao and Marquez would meet again.
Despite the fact that a winner was determined by the judges this time, the judge’s scorecards were so close that Pacquiao’s knockdown in round three may have been the deciding factor. While that may have been enough for some people to view this bout as a plausible conclusion to Pacquiao/Marquez, it was drowned out by those demanding a third bout between the two.
Everyone who wanted a third Pacquiao/Marquez bout would have to wait, but they would eventually get their wish.