Instead of putting away the questions regarding his rivalry with Juan Manuel Marquez once and for all, Manny Pacquiao lost more than just the fight when he was knocked out by 39 year old Mexican in the sixth round of their fourth fight. Maybe he lost his chance to fight Floyd Mayweather, and his place among the current crop of elite fighters.
This was the most action packed fight in a rivalry that produced four fights in the span of 8 years between these two fighters. Instead of Marquez trying to lure in Pacquiao for his usual counter punching tactics, they both were going for it from the first gong of the bell. Pacquiao rocked Marquez in the second round, Marquez rocked Pacquiao in the third, sending him to the canvas for the first knockdown of the night.
Remember Pacquiao’s fitness problems, especially his legs cramping up? Those returned in the fourth round, as Pacquiao needed his legs rubbed down before he came back from the corner. Another big right from Pacquiao sent Marque to touch the ground with his glove, getting a knockdown to the other side. Marquez stepped right up and got back to business.
Manny Pacquiao was leading 47-46 on all the scorecards going into the sixth round, but it didn’t really help. All the theories about Marquez being afraid to open up, being inferior in hand speed and power, crumbled to dust. Manny Pacquiao missed a jab, Marquez slid to the left as Pacquiao went through him, but sent a powerful right to the chin of Pacquiao, who collapsed immediatly, knocked out cold for the first time since he began fighting in the United States. There was no need for a count, as Marquez didn’t wait to begin his celebrations.
And with that, maybe it’s over. Pacquiao talked about a fifth fight, about other bouts in the future, but after two concsecutive losses, despite being still one of the biggest names in the business, it’s not the same anymore. Any argument regarding his chances to beat Floyd Mayweather lose their validity. Pacquiao fought and older and smaller man four times, and couldn’t knock him out. In fact, he showed that while his style remained the same, just with less power and speed each time the two got together over the last four years, Marquez kept improving the adjustments that he was making. Everything he did in the past few years was to set himself up for that moment – to finally show he can beat Manny Pacquiao.
And what now? No longer someone who can argue for the best pound for pound fighter in the world. No longer someone with any kind of leverage for the Mayweather fight. Don’t get me wrong, boxing is about money, and a fight that can make a lot of money is always something that can happen under the right kind of conditions. But Pacquaio lost a lot of his legend power by trying too hard to beat an opponent who’s just the bad kind of matchup for him, and listened too much for those wanting him to make money instead of rebounding from his unjust loss to Timothy Bradley.
Maybe we’ll see him take on more big names in the future, but you never know how much longer his heart and desire is still going to be in this, especially after losing twice. Maybe it’ll reignite something in him, not wanting to go out as a loser in his final big fights. Maybe the Mayweather option is now more open than ever because he lost, who knows.
But it’ll never be the same fight it could and should have been; Manny Pacquiao will never be considered the kind of fighter he was. With age, went away some of the power, speed and allure that held his legend together. Now, that Pacquiao is a thing of the past. His career? It might continue, it might not, but it’ll never be the same. One knockout, that no one saw coming except the Marquez camp, changed the course of everything, and the outlook of everyone.