As always, Metro Manila was yet again turned into a ghost town as Filipinos eagerly awaited for this grandiose moment as they braced themselves for the People’s Champ, Manny Pacquiao square it off for the third time with Mexican fighter Juan Manuel Marquez, who was bent on taking down Pacman inside the ring. Months before the fight I personally wasn’t sure if this match would be as exciting as Pacquiao’s previous fights since this would be their third confrontation in the ring and like all Filipinos, I somehow shared the same sentiment that Manny would have to deal with this persistent Mexican boxer once and for all and finish him off with a knockout decision. It was almost like I knew what was going to happen on November 13… and so I thought.
I was sitting in front of the PC surfing and doing stuff while my family downstairs were hooked to the radio listening for updates on the Pacquiao-Marquez fight since you get more coverage and up-to-the-minute details rather than waiting it on free T.V. since it would take forever just to sit through the entire bout, and mind you, commercial airtime are much more longer than the fight itself! It was through Facebook and Twitter that I got somehow a clear idea that things were not going “as planned” and messages like “Pacquiao is getting demolished by Marquez” or “Si Pacquiao naliligo na sa suntok galing kay Marquez! (Pacquiao is bombarded with punches coming from Marquez!) makes you wonder what the hell is going on… Is this for real?!! It is no secret that Juan Manuel Marquez did train himself very well for this match and he equally focused his attention on getting himself very much prepared since he was on a do-or-die mission to end Pacman’s reign of superiority in the boxing ring. Marquez was ready to boogie… and with what I’m hearing on the radio downstairs, it sounded like JMM was doing the boogie like there was no tomorrow! Then there was talk that a couple of witnesses who saw Manny and his wife Jinkee arriving at the MGM Grand Arena somewhat were distant to each other and those who were there can’t help but notice the seriousness on Pacman’s face which was unheard of since the champ often would be in high spirits in each fight as he greeted the crowd with smiles and waves who waited for him outside the venue. Radio commentators would shrug it off as something like maybe he was trying to focus his attention on the match… but for those eyes and ears present that evening, there was already mounting tension between Manny and his wife before the fight and it didn’t look pretty… So the plot thickens…
So to make this long story short, The match lasted through 12 rounds, Manny eventually regained his title as the reigning WBO Welterweight champion with a majority decision. While on the other hand, Juan Manuel Marquez, though getting battered in the ring, was never knocked down or knocked out, he gave his all in this match and he indeed put up a good fight against Pacman. Watching their actual fight, you could see the fire in his eyes as he viciously pounded the champ by launching a barrage of strong punches one after another. Upon hearing the decision from the judges, Marquez walks out of the ring somehow disappointed with the outcome as Manny and the rest of the team stayed on and celebrated their victory inside the ring… but not for every single Filipino who had seen the fight both here and abroad. Upon announcing Pacman as the winner, there was a huge roar of booing coming from the crowd inside the MGM Grand Arena, some were saying it came from the majority of Mexicans who were equally disappointed at the fight, but there was even talk that there were Filipinos as well who jeered upon the decision because Manny’s performance lack luster and he wasn’t in his ultimate fighting form the entire evening. The crowd was now somehow divided and people in a way showed more sympathy to Marquez because he was the more aggressive one in the ring and he fought his battle well. Even here in the Philippines shouts of victory and overwhelming joy was kind of lukewarm. People who came to see the fight in large movie theaters or at gymnasiums sponsored by the local government immediately walked out, went home and returned to their normal lives… as if nothing had happened at all! Pacquiao’s last fight with Marquez is indeed controversial and the public is left wondering what went wrong to their People’s Champ.
In my personal assessment as a common folk who isn’t a professional boxing analyst nor a sports writer in a way, this is what I understand and this is what I see from my own stance… Marquez is a great fighter no doubt about it, he showed to the world that he was bent on defeating Pacman and it showed through his outstanding performance inside the ring yesterday. During their match, it looked like Manny was the underdog as he received a bombardment of punches here and there from Marquez. From a spectator’s point of view, it will look as if Pacman wasn’t doing anything, Marquez was doing all the work while his opponent gets “Pearl Harbor-ed”, so in the end Marquez is left standing with Manny winning just a majority decision. But boxing isn’t all about the physical or performance aspect of the fighters, we must also remember that boxing is a sport and it is bounded by rules and technicalities, that is why there are judges situated near the arena to carefully watch and calculate every single punch or movement made by the boxer. Even though it looks as if Marquez was the predominant one, but according to the judges’ computation, the number of punches coming from Pacman that landed on Marquez made the more points against the counted number of hits minus the relentless number of punches unleashed by the Mexican fighter. In the end, it is still the judges decision that is binding and final. Second, there is a probable cause (though not yet confirmed) that Manny’s average performance in the ring resulted from a serious argument with his wife Jinkee just hours before the main event at the MGM Arena. Even the most disciplined and focused professional sportsman like Pacquiao can be greatly affected emotionally, mentally and physically with things like domestic disputes and personal problems, after all Manny is still human just like the rest of us. There are still a lot of questions left unanswered surrounding the controversial Pacquiao-Marquez match… But for somebody like me who is just an ordinary Filipino watching from the sidelines, I just witnessed two great fighters who showed great professionalism inside the boxing ring. Two brave and battered men who never faltered from the fight, giving their all for pride and honor to their motherland. One who stood tall and fought his greatest battle against a formidable juggernaut in the boxing world, while the other defended his honor and dignity despite the odds surrounding him that momentous evening, which everyone thought to be his impending “Waterloo”, but came out literally unscathed and victorious.