The Punch That Knocked Out Manny Pacquiao

Will Juan Manuel Marquez’s vengeance for three previous fights also lead to the end of the Filipino superstar’s career?

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Steve Marcus / Reuters

Juan Manuel Marquez steps away after knocking out Manny Pacquiao in the 6th round during their welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Dec. 8, 2012.

There was one second left in the sixth round of Saturday’s big fight in Vegas between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Márquez. Pacquiao, one of the best boxers in the world, had been picking apart his old nemesis Márquez with darty punches that the Mexican, an expert counterpuncher, couldn’t seem to counter. The Filipino fighter had connected on 94 punches to Márquez’s 52, had broken his opponent’s nose and dropped him in the previous round. Márquez was bleeding profusely and having trouble breathing. All three judges had Pacquiao winning 47–46 through five rounds.

Then in the dying moments of round six, the two men started exchanging furious punches near the ropes. Márquez feinted left and threw one of the most vicious short rights in recent boxing history, hitting Pacquiao flush in the face and sending him to the canvas, right in front of Mitt and Ann Romney’s ringside seats (“I couldn’t believe it, he went down right in front of me!” Ann said later). It seemed oddly appropriate: Romney knows all about clear defeats emerging dramatically after close and tough battles. And Pacquiao is a politician — a Congressman with presidential ambitions in his native Philippines.

(PHOTOS: The Rise of Manny Pacquiao)

There was exaltation from Márquez, all sprinkled with blood, from his cornermen and from the mostly pro-Márquez crowd at the MGM Grand. But the obvious end of the match was also chilling because Pacquiao, seemingly invincible once upon a time, was so slow to revive. His corner put a white wet towel over him and started massaging his head as his weeping wife Jinkee — whose name is tattooed on his arm — struggled into the ring and to his side. Eventually regaining consciousness, Pacquiao said, “I got hit by a punch I didn’t see.” His eyes were still glazed over.

It felt like the end of Manny Pacquaio. This is the second fight he has lost this year. Despite his dominance over Márquez through most of the fight, he looked just slightly more timid than the Pacquiao of old; his legs didn’t move along with their typical bounce; he had been knocked down in round three, the first time that had happened in years and an omen for the way the struggling Márquez would finish the match. One of the smartest men in boxing, Márquez was setting up his KO.

(MORE: Is Manny Pacquiao’s Legend Gone for Good?)

The punch that ended the fight would bring a resounding conclusion to one of the bitterest rivalries in sports. Until Saturday, Márquez could claim to have been cheated by history. Considered the sixth best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, he fought Pacquiao to a controversial draw in 2004; he then lost a split decision (by one point) in their 2008 rematch. Márquez again lost to Pacquiao in a 2011 controversy. At the conclusion of that fight, when the judges ruled that Pacquiao had won, the Filipino was greeted by thunderous boos. Márquez, disgusted, stormed out of the ring, believing he had won. He would prove he deserved victory by knockout at the end of round six of their fourth encounter — one of the most exciting in recent years, an instant classic.

It might not have happened. After their 2011 match, Pacquiao was moving onto younger fighters and bigger paydays, and maybe — just maybe — an eventual superfight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

But earlier this year Pacquiao lost a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley. While Pacquiao lost on the judges’ scorecards, the boxing public believed he had soundly beaten Bradley — who was wheeled into the postfight press conference in a wheelchair. But since Mayweather’s and Pacquiao’s promoters never seem able to negotiate their fight for various reasons — most being nonsensical — Pacquiao decided to take on Márquez again. And as the Filipino’s coach Freddie Roach says, “He walked into a two-inch punch.” Pacquiao hadn’t been knocked out since 1999.

(MORE: Pacquiao Loses: What Defeat Means for Manny — and His Newfound Faith)

He might retire. He might fight Márquez for a fifth time. But what is clear: that punch will permanently alter the way Pacquiao is viewed as a boxer, politician and cross-cultural star.

As a fighter, he relied on his speed to create punching angles and then quickly move out of range of his opponent. But as he aged, he wasn’t quite getting out of counterattacks as much. In training camp, there was talk of Pacquiao knocking out his sparring partners, but other, quieter stories of missed training runs and a lack of dedication to his strength and fitness regime. To many who know him well, he seemed more interested in Bible study than the sweet science. There were also uneasy questions from his own countryman about his dedication to the Philippines’ fervent Catholicism, sensing a turn toward evangelical born-again Protestantism. Indeed, there were some snarky tweets that his defeat may have been the result of not performing what had seemed to be a prefight ritual: kneeling in a corner and making the Catholic sign of the cross. Pacquiao seems to be writing a different — more complex — storyline to his life, and it hasn’t been easy for his countrymen to digest. And the latest loss may shake the faith of his many non-Filipino fans who have made him a global brand — but one based on winning and invincibility.

After the fight, Pacquiao readily confessed to overconfidence, believing the bloodied Márquez to be on his last legs. However, Roach, himself an icon of perseverance because of his public struggle with Parkinson’s, said that though Pacquiao looked careless at times, the end is not nigh. “If I see signs of him declining, I will tell him to retire. I don’t think this is the end of Manny Pacquiao, no.” It was simply a mistake. He did not see the punch coming. That says a lot for Pacquiao’s vision. In Márquez’s view, he had it coming.

MORE: The Meaning and Mythos of Manny Pacquiao

91 comments
ralphj54
ralphj54

For Juan Manuel Marquez... he could easily tell PACQUIAO......."If we EVER fight again......and if you DARE.....to CHARGE against me......LIKE a LION........I will REPEAT myself....and KNOCK you out.......AGAIN........

1. I am a BETTER boxer than you

2. I am STRONGER

3. I LOOK bigger than you........and PROBABLY am.

4. After I  "killed" you once........the NEXT time........SHOULD be EASIER.

5. Let's do it again.........FOR MORE MONEY.

shabsnet
shabsnet

don't count manny out yet, that's sports win some , lose some. Manny has different mindset from other boxers who were KOed cold, coming from his humble beginnings, he persevered & became a global brand of boxing..

josevfx
josevfx

@LeonKadoch Gracias.

BrandonMcHenry
BrandonMcHenry

"I knew Manny could knock me out at any time," Marquez said. "I threw the perfect punch." from another source.... there you have it. Marquez himself admitting it was a lucky punch and he was already in trouble.... Don't count Manny out. I bet there will be a 5th fight....

tmr3513
tmr3513

I had a nice conversation with Manny when he was just 18 and had won his first belt. It was at LAX and he was waiting for his flight home, as was my wife. I asked him if he was any good and he was confident that he was in his words,"the best there ever was." I laughed and told him every man who made that boast always ended up face down on the mat sometime toward the end of his career.

SamuelYap
SamuelYap

The greatness of a man and a fighter is not when is on a high roll, enjoying his victories and the adulation of the masses. It is when he is down in his depths of despair, and still hang on to his faith in himself and his God, akin to Job in the Old Testament. Manny Pacquiao was  humble and gracious both in victory as well as defeat. And even if he does not defeat Marquez again in  a future bout, his greatness as a human being is well established. 

But of course, if he rises up again and defeats Marquez, that would be a great icing on the cake.

 As to his "abandoning" his Catholic faith to be a fundamentalist Christian, the issue really here is  for the Catholic Church to answer: why are many Catholics abandoning their centuries-old religion to very recent religions such as the Born Again Christianity? In my studies on religion, I find that the Catholic religion has everything the new sects can offer, and much more. Why is this message not getting across?

roknsteve
roknsteve

This is part of the reason that boxing is dead.  In their first fight Manny Pacqueao knocked Juan Marquez down 3 times in the first round and the referee didn't stop the fight.  In their second fight Marquez was so out on his feet he couldn't even find his corner and the referee didn't stop the fight.  That's why boxing is a joke and totally dead.

smallalexa
smallalexa

@TIME that had some spice on it! Should have your hands up Manny!

JonathanMartin
JonathanMartin

How can civilised people consider this a sport? How long till mortal combat becomes a sport?

edgy_mph
edgy_mph

@TIME I guess our people's champ should retire. He's already proven himself in the boxing world!

RobertVDoe
RobertVDoe

Check out the new article at DoeBoysBoxing.Blogspot.com "Pacquiao Loses: Can We Be Done Now?"

cprosario97
cprosario97

@dat_santana it was hard to watch the first time... Too painful to relive...

chippy.orendain
chippy.orendain

Ah, the mythical phoenix bird. But if a 5th match is indeed in the offing, the Pacman, learning a most difficult lesson in his career, will recoup and triumph in this definitive 5th clash.

Krug11
Krug11

Like the phenix bird, Manny will rise from the ashes and beat Juan Ma in Pac-Marquez 5! That is certain as night follows day.

artemoo
artemoo

ο μάνι δεν πεθαίνει @illanastasiadis

IseahHurtado
IseahHurtado

@CasseyHurtado perfect overhand right that Pacquiao walked into. Scary stuff.

MisterMicrocosm
MisterMicrocosm

@TIME Can i get the recipe? I luv a good stiff punch at christmas

Ver
Ver

oh please! watch again the vids and look closely ! shame shame shame win ! cheat and cheap punch !

CarolineClapham
CarolineClapham

@DennisPang have to say that Marquez looks insanely ripped. I heard he started working with a trainer formerly of BALCO.

AMARANADNRAJAH
AMARANADNRAJAH

@TIME I rather shake for the rest of my life than to do this :-)))))))))

JunJun
JunJun

both are great fighters lets not make this a race war. a real boxing fan wont make it about race they watch boxing for the amazing sport that it is

watah.heater
watah.heater

The guy was an anomoly.  Filipinos can't fight.  And Manny is now old.

RichardBlandy
RichardBlandy

Theres more to life than trading punches in a ring despite the pay day.  Risking your health and life in the ring is dangerous if you are not 100 percent focused on the boxing.  Manny Pacquiao has too many other things going on in his life, family, religionus convictions and careeer.  He should dedicate himself to beign there for his family, exploring his spiritual beliefs and being a full time congressman in the Philippines and advancing his political career. Two losses in a row should be a wake up call that he may be trying to do too much.   Of course the money is a big temptation but if I was in his position I would do some soul searching.  You can still be a winner, just in a different arena than boxing. Manny Pacquiao will always be a winner in my book.

FelixCastro
FelixCastro

There's no shame in losing to a great fighter like  Juan Manuel Marquez, it happens.

ponpon
ponpon

@Krug11 I hope when he rose from the ashes no more flock of free loaders...no more politician sidekicks...no more pastors that gets in the way of his training schedule....Just him his trainers his family....

ponpon
ponpon

@Ver please accept the fact...dont sourgrape he went head on with JMM's right counter...Let's be thankful nothing serious happened. 

DennisPang
DennisPang

@carolineclapham Marquez = roid monkey? hmm...

DocMikeFam
DocMikeFam

@watah.heater Really?!? I have to other current Filipino World Champions by the name of Nonito Donaire and Brian Viloria who would question to your face about your analysis that Filipino's can't fight. Do you even watch boxing you hack!!

CarolineClapham
CarolineClapham

@DennisPang I assume they tested them, so I guess if he did we'll find out about it at some point.

watah.heater
watah.heater

@DocMikeFam @watah.heater ...I live in america bro, and I've never heard of them...small time?  regardless Manny was great, but his time is gone.  Maybe u'd like to step up?

CarolineClapham
CarolineClapham

@DennisPang well he was the highest paid sports figure last year raking in ~$62 mill I believe.

DennisPang
DennisPang

@carolineclapham ahhh Floyd...not so money after all

CarolineClapham
CarolineClapham

@DennisPang doubt it. Mayweather always alleged PAC was using performance enhancing drugs

DennisPang
DennisPang

@carolineclapham that's true. i wonder if Mayweather is suddenly in the mood to fight Pacman?

CalemLee
CalemLee

@watah.heater @DocMikeFam Wow that comment right there lets me know youre just a scrub who nothing about boxing.Anyone who actually follows boxing knows donaire can fight and he,s the truth

JunJun
JunJun

@watah.heater @DocMikeFam  uh a real boxing fan would know who nonito donaire is. hes the current bantamweight champ doesnt matter what race you are if you are a REAL boxing fan then u know every champion not just the weightclasses that are popular. you probably only keep up with what everyone is talking about thats why u dont know who they are. theres nothing wrong with that im just saying that if your gonna say that then back it up with facts because if youve seen donaire fight you would say differently

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