24 Rounds and Counting…
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Nov 7, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Photo: Juan Manuel Marquez & Manny Pacquiao
The focus of the boxing world will be on the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this Saturday night as Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez resume their heated and contentious rivalry. The first time they squared off was way back in May 2004 and they fought to a disputed draw. During their March 2008 rematch, Pacquiao won a split decision that is still debated to this day. I had the privilege of being at both fights and will be ringside again this weekend. I'm proud to say that I will have been at all three Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales conflicts and now, this one. At times, this gig ain't so bad.
Here are some random thoughts on what I've seen...
- While Pacquiao has the win and a draw in this series, you can make a strong argument that it's Marquez who has won the majority of the rounds they have boxed thus far. The great equalizer has been the four knockdowns scored by the “Pac-Man.” Folks ask me all the time how I scored the first two bouts. I had Marquez winning the first fight and Pacquiao winning the rematch. I thought after the three knockdowns scored by Pacquiao in the first round that Marquez won the large majority of rounds back in 2004. In the rematch, I thought Pacquiao beat Marquez by a few points.
But if you ask 100 fans how they scored the first two chapters of Pacquiao-Marquez, you'll get a wide variance of answers.
- It's cliché now to rip referee Joe Cortez- and much of it is warranted- but I have to give Mr. Fair-but-Firm a lot of credit. There are a lot of refs that would've stopped the first fight in the opening round after Marquez hit the canvas for the third time but Cortez, sensing the magnitude of this fight and perhaps understanding the importance of the moment for Marquez, allowed this proud champion to continue and get himself back into the fight. It's further proof that for major fights, the three-knockdown rule should be stashed in the broom closet. If it were in effect for this fight, this rivalry would have never been hatched.
- Speaking of that third knockdown, I distinctly remember after Marquez got sent down (and took a late shot from Pacquiao) that he put his head down on his canvas and was thiiiis close to just packing it in. You could almost see him saying to himself, “If I get blown outta here like this, I will never go any further in this sport. I will never be the guy that I believe I am.” That was a man who, by sheer force of will and pride, picked himself off the canvas and fought like hell. To see him turn around the momentum of that fight by the middle rounds was something to behold.
I will never forget the buzz and electricity in the MGM Grand Garden Arena after that eventful first inning but what will really stood out to me was the sight of a bloody and beaten Marquez trudging back to his corner, the only guy in the joint who still believed he was going to find a way on that night.
- OK, can someone tell me what happened to the late night flights from Las Vegas back to Los Angeles? Back in 2004, you could take an afternoon flight into “Sin City” and then take a flight back past midnight later that day. I did that for Marquez-Pacquiao and Lamon Brewster's knockout win over Wladimir Klitschko, during the time that my old partner, Doug Fischer, and his wife were having their first child (Doug was out of commission during that spell).
I miss this option. It sure was convenient.
- Going back to a point I made earlier, how close is this rivalry? In the first two fights, each guy had at least one judge who believed he had won. The first fight was ruled a draw and the rematch saw Pacquiao win the fight by one point on deciding judge Tom Miller’s scorecard but where it gets real strange is that in both contests, the judges who had it split had the exact opposite scores. In the first fight, John Stewart had Pacquiao winning at 115-110 while Guy Jutras had the same score for Marquez (Burt Clements had the fight scored at 113-113). In chapter two, Duane Ford had it 115-112 for Pacquiao while Jerry Roth had that same number for Marquez. Miller had Pacquiao winning by a score of 114-113. So in essence, Pacquiao’s knockdown of Marquez in the third round of that fight kept this fight from being another draw.
This not only shows you the closeness of the first two fights but the difficulty in scoring them.
- Does anyone recall that Pacquiao-Marquez II nearly took place in 2005? As Marquez- really Nacho Beristain- balked at $750,000 payday to face Pacquiao again, it was at that stage that Erik Morales was brought in to face Pacquiao. Meanwhile, Marquez went to Indonesia to face Chris John for about $30,000 and was summarily robbed of his title. It took his career a bit of time to recover. Meanwhile, Pacquiao embarked on this great series of fights with “El Terrible.” But how would history have been altered if Pacquiao and Marquez had the rematch back then? I believed at that stage of their careers, Marquez had quite a significant technical advantage over Pacquiao. Maybe that fateful decision worked out for both men.
- Just my personal preference but I would have liked to have seen this fight take place at the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds. For those who ask, “Why does Pacquiao always get to fight at catchweights?” It's very simple- because he can. He's the straw that stirs the drink (and everything else). The important questions are: will there be a backlash over this and with the perception that the scales are weighted in favor of the Filipino superstar, how will that severely effect pay-per-view sales?
- And speaking of weight, much has been made of Marquez's strength-and-conditioning coach Angel “Memo” Heredia/Hernandez and his sordid past. Now, I'm all about giving people second chances and it is unfair to just cast aspersions on Marquez (who I believe to be as honorable a fighter as there is) but I find it interesting that many people have a problem with the fact that it is Victor Conte who has pointed out Heredia/Hernandez's past. To them, it's a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe it is but last I checked, Victor Conte paid for his past sins (and didn't roll on everybody for his own immunity). More than that, he has been clear about his history and didn't try and change his identity. To me, that's a huge difference.
Many will disagree but Conte's counsel should be used as part of the solution. After all, in the past, he played a big role in perpetuating this problem. However, while others continue to utilize illicit methods, at the very least, Conte is trying to lend his vast knowledge to curb the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. No, you don't have to like the messenger but the message should not be ignored. Does Jose Canseco ring a bell?
- I'll have to respectfully disagree with Bob Arum's assertion that steroids are a thing of the past and that natural and legal supplements are every bit as effective. Well, if that were the case, nobody would be using the stuff. The truth of the matter is that the methods of cheating the system are becoming more and more sophisticated and they give a decided advantage to those who implement them. Till the major commissions come up with more stringent testing methods, it will be a battle between the haves and have-nots, regarding who can afford to and who is willing to tilt the playing field unfairly in their favor.
- Finally, I like Pacquiao to stop Marquez in about eight or nine rounds. While Marquez's style will always trouble Pacquiao, it's predicated on having quick reflexes and reaction time. In recent years, Marquez has become an easier target and there's a reason why Pacquiao's camp insisted on this catchweight: they believe it further slows down the aging Marquez, now 38 years old.
It should be fun while it lasts. I can't wait to be there.
Honestly, I don't know what to say about the barnburner that was James Kirkland's sixth round stoppage of Alfredo Angulo in Cancun, Mexico, that hasn't already been stated but I really like the way this reader described it...
“I can't believe they didn't say it on the broadcast but Angulo-Kirkland was the modern day equivalent of an illegal fight on a barge in New York harbor. Two outlaw fighters in a low budget, low capacity room fighting for blood and honor. This is my fight of the year. I was reminded of Hagler/Hearns and the immediate intensity, Tyson/Douglas with the eerie atmosphere and Duran/Barkley with the
audio problems. Cheers to a great fight.


See you can have all the supposed “skill” you want but it's battles like this that not only create new boxing fans but reaffirm why existing ones stay faithful to the sport. And to think that these two took home less than $200,000 each for their efforts while others like Andre Berto have received over 900-large to face guys like Freddie Hernandez on the same network (HBO). Like I said as this fight was being consummated over the summer, this was a can't-miss bout and it delivered like FedEx.

Neither of these guys will ever grace any mythical pound-for-pound lists or be the perfect fighters with particularly glossy records. What they are, are real fighters who are willing to lay it on the line each and every time they lace up their Everlasts.


For the first time in his storied career, Glen Johnson looked like a guy who simply didn't belong on the world-class stage as he was easily outboxed by Lucian Bute this past weekend in Quebec City. What was alarming was that for the first time I can recall, Johnson didn't press the action and actually played it safe from the outside. The vintage version of the “Road Warrior” was a guy that always came forward and was always trying to grind away. That guy simply wasn't there on this night.

Maybe that guy no longer exists.


And speaking of guys who no longer exist, here's an email I got over the weekend regarding my story on James Toney:


What up bro.  Been a while since I wrote to you.  Anyhow, just wanted to drop a quick note and let you know that, as a sick, sick, lifelong diehard of our beautiful sport, and as a fan who has literally read every single one of your articles (I'm not at all kidding) over the past 6 years, today's piece on Lights Out was right up there with my all-time favorites.  So well written, as respectful as it was honest, and both enjoyable and difficult to read -- precisely the effect an article like that is supposed to have on us saddened JT fans.

Bravo my friend.  I'm a 29-year-old lawyer who hates my job, loves boxing, and looks up to people like yourself.  Articles like that are the precise reason why. 

Best regards,

Joe Chu”


Loved the marching band entrance of Bute...Just my opinion but referee Johnny Callas has to be given a ton of credit for not stopping the Kirkland-Angulo fight while Kirkland was getting creamed early on in the first...Looking at the fight again (and again), it's alarming to see how perceptibly Angulo loses steam with around 1:10 to go in the opening stanza...Please say a prayer for the likes of Harold Lederman and Joe Frazier...I think Peter Quillin is at least a few fights away from challenging the likes of Sergio Martinez...Here's an interesting article I was sent regarding the Floyd Mayweather-Sergio Ortiz pay-per-view numbers that were released: http://www.nowboxing.com/2011/11/hbo-officially-announces-690k-ppv-for-mayweather-vs-ortiz/21060/...I can't believe the year Willis McGahee is having in Denver. This is 2002 all over again for one of my all-time favorite ‘Canes...Honestly, I think seeing LSU-‘Bama once is enough for me...In addition to Pacquiao-Marquez III next week, we have Oregon-Stanford...I think it's clear that Patriots need a wide receiver who can really stretch the field...Gotta hand it to Jacory Harris; he has had a strong senior campaign for the ‘Canes behind center

More of Steve's recent work is linked below .

I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.

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