LAS VEGAS, NOVEMBER 16, 2011 (STANDARD) Manny Pacquiao escaped again, in a decision that left Juan Manuel Marquez fuming once again.

The Filipino sensation was taken to the limit Saturday night before winning a majority decision that infuriated his Mexican opponent and most of the sellout crowd at the MGM Grand arena. The win may have been close, but Pacquiao still managed to continue a remarkable run that has made him the most exciting fighter in the sport.

In a bruising battle against a counter-puncher who was both accurate and fast, Pacquiao needed the final round on two scorecards to pull out the win. He got it, even though a third judge scored the round in favor of Marquez.

As boos and cans and bottles rang down on the ring, Pacquiao celebrated another victory and another huge payday.

“My fans are very happy because they thought I won,” Pacquiao said.

He did, but by the narrowest of margins. That was perhaps to be expected considering the previous 24 rounds the two had fought were just as close.

Pacquiao won the 144-pound (65-kilogram) fight on two scorecards, while the third ringside judge had it a draw. Marquez was so upset after the decision was announced, he stormed out of the ring.

“This was the second robbery and this one was the worst, Marquez said.

“We won with clearer punches.”

Pacquiao won some rounds with sheer aggression, while Marquez won others with brilliant counter-punching. He picked Pacquiao apart with right hands almost every time he tried to get inside, and landed hard flurries throughout the fight.

One ringside judge had it a 114-114 draw, while two others favored Pacquiao by 115-113 and 116-112. The Associated Press had it 114-114.

“Its hard when you’re fighting your rival and the three judges, too,” said Marquez, who was a 7-1 underdog.

The sellout crowd threw bottles and cans toward ringside after the decision was announced, with one full can hitting a ringside writer.

It was the 15th straight win for Pacquiao, who earned a minimum of $22 million while improving his record to 54-3-2. Marquez, who earned $5 million, fell to 52-6-1.

The first bout between the two boxers seven years ago at 125 pounds (57 kilograms) was a draw, and Pacquiao won a split decision in their second bout in 2008 at 130 pounds (59 kilograms).

Ringside punch stats showed just how evenly matched they were in this contest: Pacquiao was credited with landing 176 of 578 punches, while Marquez landed 138 of 436.

The power punches were even closer, with Pacquiao connecting on 117 and to 100 for Marquez---though the Mexican seemed to land the harder punches.

Pacquiao was behind on one scorecard and only ahead by a point on a second going into the 12th round, and the crowd was on its feet roaring for what they expected to be a classic last round. But both fighters were tentative, brawling only toward the end of the round.

“He was ready for my punches, Pacquiao said.

“I thought I blocked a lot of his punches.”

Pacquiao found out early he would be in for a long night, taking counter punches from Marquez in the opening rounds while looking for his own opening. He had trouble finding his range all night and when he did get inside, Marquez often moved to the side.

It was evident both fighters were so familiar with one another they knew what the other was going to do, and they compensated by fighting in spurts when each had the advantage. Neither ever seemed seriously hurt, though Marquez landed several rights that snapped Pacquiao’s head back and stopped him from coming forward.

The two clashed heads in the ninth round, opening a cut above Pacquiao’s right eye, and he was also cut inside his mouth. Marquez wasn’t cut, but his face was swollen and his eyes were closing in the later rounds. AP

More questions than answers by Ronnie Nathanielsz

IT WAS supposed to determine, who between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez was the better boxer when ranged against each other.

Instead, boxing fans were left with more questions than answers after the Filipino ring icon got the nod of the judges, who gave him a majority decision at the end of his third fight with the Mexican warrior at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

And so a fourth fight looms.

A fourth fight?

“Maybe we’ll do it again in May,” said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, although Golden Boy Promotions has booked a May 5 date at the MGM Grand with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and announced “Money” would return to the ring on that date “ to fight the little fella,” considered as a reference to Pacquiao.

In a post-fight interview with showbiz personality Mario Lopez, Pacquiao said: “It’s very clear I won the fight, but Marquez is a good fighter and a counter-puncher.”

Asked whether he would like to fight Marquez again or face someone else, Pacquiao replied: “I don’t know, but anytime I can fight anybody as long as there is no problem with my promoter Bob Arum.”

Ordinary Pacquiao

Pacquiao looked more like a commoner, who was once again favored by the Las Vegas judges, winning a majority decision in what turned out to be even more hugely controversial than their 2008 rematch, which the Filipino won by a split decision.

Pacquiao looked anything but the best fighter of all time and although it was not his fault that he got the decision, a sellout crowd of 16,368 booed him for almost 15 minutes and completely drowned out his interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman, while cans and water bottles were thrown into the ring by some unruly fans.

A Fight News poll after the fight showed 58 percent of boxing fans believed Marquez won, while only 32 percent said Pacquiao prevailed, with 10 percent voting for a draw.

However, Arum claimed in a post-fight interview that it was only the Mexicans, who booed, but he failed to notice than none of the many Filipinos in the audience cheered like they normally would in a Pacquiao victory.

Many of the boxing writers, in fact, thought Marquez deserved to win, once again raising serious questions of whether Las Vegas can give the Mexican, or any other fighter, who faces Pacquiao, regarded as the most popular boxer today, a fair shake.

Judges’ score

The three judges at the center of another brewing storm were Robert Hoyle, who scored the fight 114-114; Dave Moretti, who had Pacquiao the winner at 115-113 and Glen Trowbridge, who was also for the Filipino by an even bigger 116-112 margin.

The early rounds were tactical, with Pacquiao trying to entice Marquez to come in so he could counter and prove that his skills as a fighter had improved.

But the Mexican legend didn’t take the bait and bid his time before Pacquiao initiated an exchange in the fourth round, when things began to heat up, with Marquez scoring with a solid right at the end of the round.

Marquez landed a couple of body shots at the start of Round 5 and caught Pacquiao with a cracking right as he came in. Marquez began to find his counter-punching rhythm, even as Pacquiao’s timing appeared to be off as the Mexican scored with a beautiful 1-2 combination.

Pacquiao put some pressure on Marquez in Round 6, but the Mexican caught him with a chopping right hand to stay ahead as the middle rounds turned out to be close, but with neither fighter dominating.

Can’t pull the trigger

Trainer Freddie Roach told Pacquiao at the end of the round: “Son, we are falling behind” but failed to provide his prized possession with an answer to a rejuvenated and bigger Marquez, who took the best shots of the Pacman and hardly winced.

Filipino trainer Buboy Fernandez told Pacquiao to move in and out and to nail Marquez with his vaunted combinations, but Manny simply couldn’t pull the trigger.

Marquez opened a cut inside the mouth of Pacquiao and nailed him with two good body shots in Round 8, but the Filipino, demonstrating his courage, came back with an explosive ninth round.

But a sense of urgency was developing in Pacquiao’s corner after the Fighter of the Decade suffered a cut on the eyelid of his left eye after an accidental clash of heads in the 10th round.


Truly, Marquez is most difficult foe for Pacquiao

WHY be disappointed? A win is a win is a win.

We are used to seeing Manny Pacquiao either knock out his foe or batter an opponent to smithereens. So, when he could only extract a majority decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez yesterday, we sort of like being undersold.

Quit the crap, please? Have we become a bunch of spoiled brats?

All we want is a Porterhouse steak, if not wagyu, that when we are finally served galunggong and kangkong for dinner, we bawl like kids robbed of our lollipops.

C’mon, it’s about time we grew up.

Pacquiao is no doubt the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world today.

At this stage, he can’t be beaten. And he can beat anyone thrown his way. Including Floyd “The Fraud” Mayweather, Jr.

But then, when he failed to knock Marquez out yesterday as everybody had predicted, we next hear a lot of bull_ _ _ _.

“Pacquiao lost that fight,” some said.

Others: “The judges were fixed.”

Still others: “Marquez was robbed of victory yet again.”

It couldn’t be crueler than that.

What have we become, a nation of perfectionists?

Even the best of the best like Pacquiao can’t be at his best all the time.

He’s undoubtedly the present best pound-for-pound fighter because that’s the plain and simple truth.

And while it’s true that he didn’t knock out Marquez yesterday, the fact will remain that he is really the better fighter of the two.

Pacquiao not winning decisively yesterday isn’t enough to label him as an unconvincing winner.

We just demand so much from him that when our expectations fall short, we start to cuss, if not pin him down with unsavory remarks.

Such are the risks of being a world celebrity, as in Pacquiao’s case.

I’m no apologist for Pacquiao but merely a keen Pacquiao watcher since he turned pro in 1995.

Of all his opponents, it is Marquez who proves to be the most difficult.

You dispute that and you are a hopeless case.

How can Marquez be not difficult when he had fallen three times in 2004 right in the first round and yet, he rose to snatch a draw decision?

With that kind showing, with that kind of tenacity as to see him heroically survive three knockdowns in one round and to next proceed to steal a draw, you can conclude he must be from another planet.

It was in their first fight that set the tone of the trilogy that even as Pacquiao knocked down Marquez again in their return bout in 2008, the Pacman could only secure a split decision verdict.

With their third fight ending in another points victory for Pacquiao, there is yet another loud call for a fourth encounter.

I tell you, with the way they’d been banging each other and no one’s going to dreamland, there will never be an end to it.

Meaning, they’d finish all their succeeding fights standing that asking for more would merely result in an utterly pathetic bore.

And so, let’s leave it at that.

Enough is enough. Three fights and that’s it.

Marquez is so tough that in 60 fights, he has yet to taste a knockout.

Pacquiao is so tough that even if he had absorbed again yesterday some of Marquez’s hardest punches—punches that had floored previously 39 foes—the Pacman also wouldn’t drop.

These are simply two incredible warriors with styles that do not allow for a knockout to happen to any one of them.

Lastly, you might not have noticed it but yesterday, Marquez fought a mind game: He didn’t really mix it up from Round 1 onwards. He did not also attack with impunity as he had promised, virtually throwing Pacquiao off-balance most of the time.

There was none of the slam-bang affair we had seen in nearly eternity in their first two clashes, thus effectively deleting a sure knockout—much less a knockdown.

My score of 115-113 for Pacquiao I had proudly showed to Carlo Chungunco of Lexus Manila, Inc.

He could only nod approvingly. Next, he handed me P17,000—my jackpot for a P200 bet in predicting Pacquiao’s majority decision victory.

Talk about luck, Sir John.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved