Manny Pacquiao slipped on a blue Nike T-shirt that read “UNDISPUTED CHAMPION” Saturday night, but several thousands of fans in the sell-out crowd of 16,368 at the MGM Grand Garden arena begged to differ.
Boos, beer cans and bottles were all lobbed towards the ring after boxing’s pound-for-pound king survived for a majority decision victory over a gritty Juan Manuel Marquez in the pair’s third bout against each other.
“I got robbed,” said Marquez of ringside scoring—which saw judge Robert Hoyle score the 12-round, 144-pound fight as a 114-114 draw, while the other two, Dave Moretti and Glenn Trowbridge, favored Pacquiao by margins of 115-113 and 116-112, respectively.
“I don’t know what else I can do to win. I think I won this fight more clearly (than the other two). I don’t know what I need to do for the judges to give me this fight.”
While the rest of the boxing world, or at least the top-notched fighters in the 130-pound to 150-pound range have found themselves steamrolled by the 32-year-old Filipino sensation, the 38-year-old Mexican, who was a 7-1 underdog at the betting window, has made Pacquiao looked rather pedestrian over their combined 36 rounds.
Marquez (53-6-1, 39 KOs)—who fought Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) to a 12-round draw in their first bout in 2004, and lost by a controversial split decision in their rematch in 2008—peppered Pac-Man throughout Saturday’s high-energy event, including what seemed to be the more significant punches, although Pacquiao had a slight advantage landing 117 power punches to Marquez’s 100.
CompuBox stats showed how nearly even the fight was, but Pacquiao’s aggression and higher punch rate (he landed 176 of 578 punches, compared to Marquez’s 138 of 436) likely won him favor with the judges.
“The fans of Marquez, of course, aren’t happy, but my fans are happy,” Pacquiao said. “I clearly won the fight. He is a good fighter, but I do my best. It is very clear that I won the fight.”
Marquez, his camp, and the Mexican fans clearly didn’t think so, but Pacquiao’s saving grace for his 15th straight victory likely was his solid 12th round.
While Marquez’s legendary trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain could be heard on the HBO broadcast telling Maruquez he was winning the fight into the late rounds, Freddie Roach instead prompted Pacquiao to close out strong.
“If we didn’t win that last round, I think it might have been a draw or went the other way,” said Roach of Pacquiao, who won the 12th round 10-9 on both Hoyle and Moretti’s scorecards. But Trowbridge, who had Pacquiao winning the fight by four points, gave the final round to Marquez.
Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum said the three fights haven’t produced a decisive winner and said a rematch with Marquez in May (conveniently the date Mayweather recently announced that he would like to challenge Pacquiao) seemed to make sense.
While undoubtedly the fight would draw well considering the $11.7 million ticket sales from Saturday’s bout, the world wants to see and the sport needs a superfight between Pacquiao and Mayweather.
“Anytime, anytime,” Pacquiao said when asked if he was willing to face Mayweather. “I am a fighter. My job is to fight.
“Let’s get it on. Let’s make the fight happen and give the people a good fight.”
Somewhere Saturday night, the counter-punching Mayweather had to be licking his chops and smiling.
Dos Santos wins heavyweight title in UFC’s FOX debut
A couple of hours earlier in Anaheim, Calif., UFC president Dana White watched as his dream came true when the UFC made its network television debut—although White probably would have preferred if Junior dos Santos took a little longer than 64 seconds to knock out Cain Velasquez.
“It was a perfect night,” said White of the UFC inaugural performance with FOX, which inked an exclusive seven-year deal with the MMA giant in August.
“Nothing went wrong in terms of putting on a live production. It was perfect.”
Especially for dos Santos, who after the fight revealed he had torn the meniscus in his left knee a week-and-a-half ago.
“I have no words to say what I’m feeling,” said dos Santos, who quickly finished things with a pulverizing right hand that landed behind Velasquez’s ear, before jumping on him with a dozen finishing blows.
“It’s amazing, my life. I want to thank all of my team, all my family, I’ve got a lot of good people around me. Thank you very much.”
The previously unbeaten Velasquez, a California native, congratulated dos Santos in the Octagon and then apologized to the 14,019 fans inside the Honda Center.
“I just want to say sorry to all my fans, family and friends. I disappointed you,” said Velasquez, who hadn’t fought for 13 months after tearing his rotator cuff.
“I’m much more than this. I will be back, and I will get that belt back.”