By Sam Geraci (Chicago)
After Saturday’s mega fight between pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez, fight fans, legitimate boxing writers, and even Marquez have been asking themselves what else could have been done to win a close decision against Pacquaio after that fight.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
“I don’t know what else I can do,” Marquez said after the fight.
Well, in all sincerity, after watching and scoring the fight several times, I don’t think there is really much more that Marquez or anyone else that night could have done. Marquez was able to handle Pacquiao’s power, and he was sharp and quick in countering Pacquiao throughout the fight.
Despite his great performance and despite the grumblings that Pacquiao no longer deserves to be considered the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Marquez clearly lost the fight and Pacquiao looked impressive in beating one of the top fighters of the world and an all-time great.
Marquez is an incredible fighter with a great record whose only defeats, aside from his first professional fight and his fight with Mayweather, have all come in championship bouts. In addition, since 2006, Marquez has only lost to Pacquiao and Mayweather. Based on Marquez’ historic career, why then was Pacquiao favored so heavily?
While perception and passionate fans often drive the betting odds, the only reasons Pacquiao should have been favored so heavily on Saturday were that many questioned whether Marquez was too old for Pacquiao and whether Marquez could be special above 140 since he was dominated by Mayweather at 147 in 2009. As it turned out, Marquez still has it, and he is probably capable of beating anyone other than Pacquiao at 144 or below.
“I need to sit down with my family and figure out whether I will continue or retire from this sport,” Marquez said after the fight.
While it is sensible for Marquez to consider retirement since he has already established himself as an all-time great, there is no reason to think that boxing fans would not like to see and pay for him to challenge the best fighters at 140 including Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana, and even Erik Morales or Pacquiao.
What’s great and exciting about the fights between Pacquiao and Marquez is that they feature two great 130lb to 135lb fighters who have been able to use their magnificent skills, speed, heart, and power to compete at the higher weight classes (140 and 147). Simply put, they are equally matched not only because of their skill set, but also because of their size.
Against Mayweather, on the other hand, just as Pacquiao might find, Marquez was just too small to compete. Every fighter has a limit. And that’s what makes Pacquiao so great and so damn entertaining. Somehow, he has competed and succeeded against fighters from 106lbs all the way up to 147lbs.
Saturday’s fight was a terrific fight that showcased one of the best fighters in the world against a fighter who has not yet reached his limit. While Pacquiao clearly won a close fight, the discussion has moved from that terrific fight to whether or not Pacquiao is still the best fighter in the world who should be fighting Mayweather in the next year. The answer is yes but not because he has a good chance of winning.
The answer is yes because fight fans, legitimate boxing writers, and Pacquiao and Mayweather have been asking themselves if this little guy without any real amateur background can somehow pull off a victory against a fighter who, like Marquez, is going to do everything right but who is also larger, stronger, and perhaps more skilled?
In summary, Marquez and Pacquiao’s performances should not have changed the odds or the perception of the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight; it still needs to happen.