MANILA, MARCH 20, 2008
(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - It is appalling to find some Filipinos casting doubt on the integrity of Manny Pacquiao’s win by split decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas last Saturday.

Like the sourgrapers in Marquez’ camp, they’re insinuating Top Rank chairman Bob Arum did a sleight of hand to protect his hefty investment in Pacquiao by loading the judges panel with personal choices. Marquez’ supporters claim the Mexican should’ve won because the punchstats show he landed more blows.

Allow me to raise three points to clear the air on this issue.

First, the record will establish that both Pacquiao and Marquez gave their thumbs-up on the three judges who were assigned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. In fact, one original choice Bill Flaherty was replaced on Pacquiao’s instance because he is Roach’s family friend. He was subbed by Tom Miller, 48. The two other judges were veterans Duane Ford, 70, and Jerry Roth, 66, whose reputation for fairness is unassailable. Ford has been a judge since 1978 and Roth, 1982. They’ve been involved in major world title fights before so working last Saturday’s fight was not an unfamiliar experience.

Miller has been a judge since 1996. By the way, it was recently disclosed that in his personal scorecard, Flaherty scored it 114-113 for Pacquiao, the same as Miller. So the verdict would’ve been the same even if Flaherty had not been replaced.

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Second, it must be explained that punchstats are a summary of total blows thrown and connected, broken down into jabs and power shots. Just because a fighter connected more punches on an accumulated basis doesn’t necessarily mean he won. Remember that punchstats show totals from the start of the fight to the end and a bout is judged from round to round, not by an accumulation of blows landed.

For instance, a fighter may take a round with a comfortable margin and receive a 10-9 count from the judges. If his opponent wins the next round by a slim margin, he also receives a 10-9 count. If you total the punches connected in the two rounds, one fighter will have the edge. But in the judges scorecards, it will be dead even. That’s how it is in boxing. You judge round by round, not by an accumulation of total punches connected at the end of the fight.

In the punchstats for last Saturday’s fight, Marquez landed more blows, 172 to Pacquiao’s 157, and was more accurate, 34 percent to 25 percent. Pacquiao, being the aggressor, threw more blows, 619 to 511 or a huge difference of 108. Some judges give a lot of credit to aggressiveness because after all, boxing is a combative sport.

In terms of jabs, Pacquiao threw 314 to Marquez’ 201, but landed only one more, 43 to 42. The figures proved that Marquez didn’t really jab as much as he was supposed to, averaging less than four connections a round.

In power punches, Marquez landed 130 of 310 compared to Pacquiao’s 114 of 305. The difference of 16 in connections is insignificant, considering the length of the fight or 12 rounds.

It is therefore not accurate to base the outcome of a fight on punchstats which do not break down into rounds.

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Third, the judges’ scorecards didn’t show major disparities. They scored the first round for Pacquiao – which The STAR did, too. They also scored the third, fourth and 10th for the Filipino. Additionally, they were unanimous in scoring the second, fifth, seventh, eighth and 11th rounds for Marquez.

The judges differed only in scoring three rounds – the sixth, ninth and 12th. In the sixth, Miller and Roth gave it to Marquez and Ford to Pacquiao. In the ninth, Miller and Roth scored it for Pacquiao and Ford to Marquez. In the 12th, Ford had it for Pacquiao while Miller and Roth saw it for Marquez.

So the discrepancy in scoring was far from being an eternity. From the scorecards, it’s clear that the difference was in the knockdown that Pacquiao produced in the third round because it meant a 10-8 count or a two-point cushion. In a close bout, a knockdown could be the decider and it was in last Saturday’s fight.

If Pacquiao had not decked Marquez but won the third round anyway, it would’ve been a split draw just like the outcome in their first fight. If Marquez won the third round, he would’ve won by majority decision.

Don’t forget that Pacquiao should’ve won the first meeting by a split decision four years ago. Burt Clements, the judge who had it a draw, admitted he made a mistake in shortchanging Pacquiao by a point in the first round when Marquez went down thrice but under boxing rules, the scorecard couldn’t be altered after the fact.

So if you really think about it, Pacquiao has effectively beaten Marquez twice.

The problem with some Filipino fans is they’ve been spoiled by Pacquiao and expect nothing less than a spectacular knockout in each of his fights.

Marquez is a tough opponent and because of his style, will always be difficult for Pacquiao to handle. Pacquiao could’ve done more things to win convincingly last Saturday – he could’ve used the right hand more, he could’ve hit and spun like he did in the second and third Erik Morales fights, he could’ve cut the ring off with more authority on Marquez to close the distance between them, he could’ve jabbed more, he could’ve attacked the body more consistently, he could’ve used more lateral movement instead of insisting on coming forward linearly.

There are so many other “could’ves” to cite but the fact is two of the three judges scored it for Pacquiao and he won, fair and square. Pacquiao earned the victory because he fought with the bigger heart, came back strong in the late rounds and every Filipino should be proud of his achievement in becoming the first Asian to win three world titles in different divisions. He bled for every one of his countrymen, he took Marquez’ hardest shots without backing down. You couldn’t ask anything more from a hero.

Marquez not in hurry for another showdown Thursday, March 20, 2008

LOS ANGELES – Juan Manuel Marquez, after all, is not too keen on fighting Manny Pacquiao soon.

The dethroned champion from Mexico said upon his return from Las Vegas that he intends to take a long rest before climbing back into the ring either in September or October.

“I am going to rest first for a couple of months and in September or October I can return to fight,” Marquez, who yielded his WBC super-featherweight crown to Pacquiao last Saturday, told the Mexican media.

Marquez said he wants to fight Pacquiao a third time, and even said he would do this at any weight, whether at 130 lbs (super-featherweight) or 135 lbs (lightweight). The first time they met in 2004 was at 126 lbs (featherweight).

“I can fight him in whatever weight he wants to fight,” said Marquez, who said the other day upon coming home that he still feels he won the fight, a very close one that lasted 12 rounds, non-stop action.

“In the first fight he knocked me down three times and it was a tie. Now he knocked me down only once and he beat me,” said Marquez, hoping that he can have one last shot at Pacquiao.

And finally settle the “Unfinished Business.”

Marquez saying he plans to fight in September or October somehow clears the path for a Pacquiao fight with WBC lightweight champion David Diaz on June 28 also at Mandalay Bay.

If this happens, Pacquiao gets a chance at another world crown, and become one of the very few boxers to win four titles under different weight classes. So far he’s the only one from Asia to win three, including the world flyweight and bantamweight titles.

“If we beat Diaz, then that’s the title we’re going to defend,” said Top Rank’s Bob Arum, who may get his wish of Pacquiao fighting Diaz next, and defending the title against Marquez later on.

Suddenly things seem to be falling into place for Pacquiao. – Abac Cordero

Roach advice to Pacquiao: Stay in shape By Abac Cordero Thursday, March 20, 2008

LOS ANGELES – A very short message Freddie Roach gave Manny Pacquiao in their brief meeting at the Wild Card Gym last Monday was for the Filipino boxer to try to stay in shape while he’s away.

“Yes, he’s got to stay in shape because we don’t know when he’s gonna fight next,” said Roach, who added that Pacquiao did a very good job preparing, training for the Juan Manuel Marquez fight.

“That’s the way it should be. And for that to happen again he needs to stay in shape,” added the two-time Trainer of the Year now busy training Bernard Hopkins for an April fight with Joe Calzage.

“I think he knows what to do,” said Roach.

Pacquiao leaves on Saturday and arrives in Manila on Monday.

A string of parties and celebrations awaits the newly crowned WBC super-featherweight champion, and shortly after that Pacquiao plans to bring his family to Boracay for a vacation.

“No definite plans yet but that’s one of the plans,” he said.

Pacquiao, according to Roach, deserves to take some rest after two months of hard training here in Los Angeles, and a brutal, bloody 12-round bout against Marquez at Mandalay Bay last Saturday.

He also has to let his wound, a long, nasty cut over his right eye, heal faster.

Pacquiao still isn’t sure when he’s coming back here to fight, whether on June 28 against WBC lightweight champion and fellow Top Rank boxer David Diaz, or later on possibly for a third fight with Marquez.

“Whoever,” said Pacquiao who’s been taking it easy since he arrived back here in LA from Vegas. He’s been taking his time with wife Jinkee, driving around town, doing some shopping and visiting some friends.

For the meantime, he’s here enjoying the sun, and the cold California weather.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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