“I knew when I knocked him down early that I could knock him out cold. And I threw the perfect punch.” Juan Manuel Marquez 12.8.12
The MGM Grand Arena played host to the end of an era when Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40KOs) shocked the boxing world and knocked out Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38KOs) cold in the sixth round.
In what was the fourth meeting between the longtime foes, Marquez made it clear in emphatic fashion that his greatness is just as important to boxing as Pacquiao's.
The first sign of Pacquiao's demise came in the third round when Marquez exploded with a looping right that dropped his nemesis down on his back. Pacquiao was able to recover well and proceeded to exchange with Marquez a the bell. This was the first time we've seen Pacquaio legitimately hurt in a fight since 1999 when he was in the flyweight division.
During the fifth round of the night we saw the best round in boxing since Hagler/Hearns. Pacquiao came out on fire, catching Marquez with a left hand that forced the 39-year old to hold himself up by touching the mat with his glove. Marquez got up and was hurt again during a furious exchange. Pacquiao went in for the kill on the wobbled Marquez who decided not to give up an inch during a toe-to-toe exchange for the ages.
Things seemed to being going Pacquiao's way in the sixth round as Marquez's face began to show the affects of this brutal display of boxing's best. And then it happened.
With one second left in the round Marquez delivered the punch that will define him in the pantheon of boxing's greats. A counter right hand was waiting for Pacquiao as he darted in and was knocked out cold, falling face first to the canvas a la Ricky Hatton. Pacquiao stayed motionless for several moments while Marquez celebrated his career's most impressive victory with the pro-Mexican crowd exploding to their feet.
"I'm very happy that I didn't retire, but yes, I was going to retire last year," said Marquez. "Now, I'm very happy that I won it and the referee raised my hand. Now, I feel great that I left no doubt with this fight with Manny, so I'm happy that I didn't retire last year."
With his second consecutive loss in a row, Pacquiao is certainly closer to the end than he is to the beginning of his remarkable career.
"I got hit by a punch I didn’t see,” said Pacquiao. “I’m going to rest and then come back.”
I don't know if you should Manny. This instantly reminded me of another great fighter with a remarkable career who was shockingly laid out during his reign as the best boxer in the world.
Jones had just successfully moved up in weight to defeat heavyweight champ John Ruiz who just beat Evander Holyfield for the title. He then chose to return to the light heavyweight division to take on Antonio Tarver and won by a majority decision. During their rematch Tarver brutally ended Jones' reign after stopping him with a left hook that sent him crashing to the canvas. After that Jones was never the same. Hopefully Manny Pacquiao won't subject himself to the same role as Jones but only time can tell us that.
Overall this is one of the best fights ever witnessed in boxing's already rich history and I for one am proud to call myself a boxing fan.
Hats off to the "Sweet Science."
Zachary Hutton is the lead boxing writer and an NFL contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can see what he's up to at his band's website myunclethewolf.com or also subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.