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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
not only shows you the closeness of the first two fights but the difficulty in
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.
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.
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.
should be fun while it lasts. I can't wait to be there.
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
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...