On March 15th, 2008 Manny Pacquiao took on Juan Manuel Marquez for the second time on the way to a legendary four-fight rivalry. By March of 2008 Manny Pacquiao was just hitting his prime at 29-years-old he was coming off two of the most impressive wins of his career. A dominating knockout over Erik Morales in November of 2006 and a lopsided decision over Marco Antonio Barrera in October of 2007 with an easy victory over undefeated Jorge Solis sandwiched in the middle. He was at or near the top of Pound for Pound lists everywhere and the Pacquiao legend was beginning to grow. Juan Manuel Marquez was building a legacy of his own. In his fight prior to Pacquiao, he defended his WBC 130-pound strap against Rocky Juarez. A belt he won in his prior fight in a narrow and thrilling decision over Marco Antonio Barrera. The rematch was coming at the exact perfect time. Both fighters still in their primes and their stocks on the rise.
The fight was called “Unfinished Business” boxing fans had to wait four long years before Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez would continue their epic first battle that ended in a draw. The rematch took place on March, 15th, 2008 in the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada. This fight was supposed to settle their controversial rematch and it was supposed to be Manny Pacquiao who got his arm raised. However, it settled nothing and only created more uncertainty. Of the 77 compiled media scorecards, 32 scored the bout for Pacquiao and 32 scored it for Marquez. The remaining 13 cards had it a draw. The fight was that close. In the third round, Pacquiao floored Juan Manuel Marquez garnering him a 10-8 round in an otherwise even round in which both fighters landed the same amount of punches. The two-point round was the difference on many scorecards that had the bout for Pacquiao. In the second round, Pacquiao was hurt by a dynamite left hook. Pacquiao dominated and won the 10th round by hurting Marquez several times in the early portion of the round. Marquez perhaps thinking he needed the 11th and 12th controlled the last two rounds and came out strong in the 12th round dominating the action. Surprisingly one judge Jerry Roth scored the final round for Pacquiao his final scorecard was 115-112 for Pacquiao. Had he given the round to Marquez, like everyone else saw that round, it would not have changed the outcome of the fight. Both fighters were confident that they had done enough to earn the decision, and for good reason. The decision went to Pacquiao and the Marquez camp cried robbery. There was no robbery that night, it was a 50/50 fight, one that I scored for Marquez 115-112. The number of toss-up rounds truly left this fight in the hands of what the judges preferred. There was no robbery there was a razor close decision that went one way instead of the other. A robbery is what happened in the third fight
The controversial decision of the first two bouts led to a third fight. A bout no one gave Marquez a chance to win. Marquez was thought to be past his prime and Pacquiao had reached another level of superstardom becoming one of the most beloved fighters in history and one of the two biggest earners in not just boxing but all of sports. Pacquiao was being primed for the mega-fight of mega-fights with Floyd Mayweather. Marquez badly outboxed Pacquiao in most of the rounds. Pacquiao somehow won the first three rounds on two of the three scored cards dropping just one round on the card despite being outboxed by most observers. Judge Glenn Trowbridge who handed in a head-scratcher of 116-112 in favor of Pacquiao. He scored rounds 8-11 all in favor of Pacquiao. When the scorecards were read and none of the three judges scored the fight for Marquez and you factor in how the first three rounds were scored and how Glen Trowbridge scored the later rounds. It really makes one wonder if Marquez had lost the fight on the cards before it even started. What should have been the shining moment of Juan Manuel Marquez’s career became just another black eye for his sport.
Perhaps knowing that he had no chance of winning the fight on the scorecards Marquez from the opening round was throwing punches with different intentions and Pacquiao was glad to return fire. Both fighters hit the deck and there was plenty of action as both fighters vowed to be more aggressive. They certainly delivered on that promise. Pacquiao rocked Marquez in the second round. The fight really picked up at the point and things got heated in the third round. Marquez scored a knockdown, dropping Pacquiao with a right hand. Pac was clearly hurt but was able to survive the final minute or so of the round.Pacquiao landed a straight left in the fifth, rocking Marquez, causing him to touch his glove on the canvas for an official knockdown. But Marquez responded, going right after Pacquiao and hurting him with a right late in the round. At the end of round six Marquez landed a right hand that will go down in the annals of boxing history, a massive right hand that sent Pacquiao face first into the canvas. HBO commentator Roy Jones Jr. famously shouted “He not gettin’ up Jim” and he certainly did not. Marquez jumped up on the ropes and the celebration was underway. Marquez had scored a massive upset and one of the greatest, most unforgettable one punch KO’s in the history of the sweet science.
Its been 10 years since the legendary second fight, its been over five years since their last fought. The time that passes is irrelevant as Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will be forever linked for the epic 42 rounds of warfare they gave us over a seven and half year span. Their names will be linked together throughout time. The same way Ali and Frazier are linked or Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta are linked or the way Holyfield and Bowe are forever linked. Both fighters will certainly go into the hall of fame and live on among the greatest fighters of all time. Their epic four-fight battle will live on forever as one of the greatest rivalries in sports history and is the predecessor of the new Mexico-Philippines rivalry that is producing epic slugfests and more boxing gold.