By: Sergio L. Martinez
After the most brutal six rounds of boxing in recent memory, Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez signed his painting of a career with a horrifying one-punch knockout of Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao. The end came with the maestro’s signature style: a right hand counter that caught the Filipino icon flush; rending him unconscious instantly, as Pac-Man crashed into the canvas face first. Pacquiao lay motionless showing no signs of life as the referee stopped the count and signaled the fight over. It was a concerning sight, but Pac-Man regained his bearings and was well enough to complete a post-fight interview with Larry Merchant.
As the fight unfolded at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Pacquiao and the majority of onlookers were witnessing what they believed to be the destruction of Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao – with plenty of pep in his step – showed flashes of his former self as he darted in and out of range landing punches with laser-like accuracy.
But Marquez unraveled Pacquiao’s authoritative start with a deceptive body attack that laid the ground work for a monstrous right hand that floored Pacquiao in the third. Reeling from this massive momentum shift, Pacquiao steadily regrouped and began to take the fight back to the Mexican warrior. Pacquiao neutralized Marquez’s knockdown feat with a straight left that forced Marquez to touch down in the fifth, and appeared to be well on his way to a decisive victory to finally put an end to the controversy and rid himself of Juan Manuel Marquez once and for all.
And then it happened.
Marquez, with the anger and frustration brought about by his perceived injustice from his eight-year, three-fight saga with Pacquiao, staged a “coup d’état” before our very eyes, vanquishing Manny Pacquiao, Top Rank and all those whom for years robbed him of his place at the top of the sport. On this night, nothing could possibly deny Marquez his moment of glory; he simply would not allow it. Even when buzzed by Pacquiao’s left in the fifth, Marquez refused to be dominated, throwing punches at his advancing adversary with all the grit and heart that has made Mexican fighters so beloved.
With all of the pre-fight emphasis focused on skill, speed, natural ability, trainers and preparation, this fight was ultimately won by one fighter’s mental decision to right injustices perpetrated against him by–in his mind–a corrupt system that conspired against him in favor of Pacquiao. Even when the momentum appeared to be completely going Pac-Man’s way, Marquez’s supreme will completely refused the notion of defeat on this occasion.
His victory may not be the popular thing and definitely was not what the machine (aka: Top Rank) was counting on. Marquez was long seen by Top Rank as a fighter who would never transcend his sport, and therefore was forced to toil for years with little to nothing to show for it. “Dinamita” persevered, however, and proved the evil empire wrong as he flourished into a solid draw and went on to give boxing fans and boxing itself some of the most memorable moments of the past eight years.
When his name was announced as the victor and his team hoisted him up for display, Juan Manuel Marquez had a look of a man finally in peace. His smile was infectious and his spirit overflowed with happiness and accomplishment. His look and demeanor were that of someone that knew he would get this opportunity and that he would have the last laugh one day.
There were, are and will always be, those hell-bent on denying Juan Manuel Marquez his moment, those who will insist on transgressions that had to have taken place, as in their minds, the Mexican was either not capable or plainly just not supposed to beat Manny Pacquiao.
But at the end of this glorious boxing odyssey, with Pacquiao prone on the canvas, Marquez showed the world what he always knew: that he is smarter than, stronger than, and superior to Pacquiao, and deserves his place as not only one of the greatest Mexican fighters, but one of the greatest fighters of all time.