LAS VEGAS, NOVEMBER 16, 2011 (TIMES) Written by : JUN MEDINA SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT - PacMan beats Marquez by majority decision

[World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao lands a straight left on the jaw of challenger Juan Manuel Marquezduring their closely fought grudge match on Sunday. AFP PHOTO]

LAS VEGAS: Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao retained his World Boxing Organization welterweight title in yet another close fight against archrival Juan Manuel Marquez, winning by majority decision before a sellout crowd of 16,268 at the MGM Grand Arena on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

Judge Glenn Trowbridge scored it 116-112 while judge Dave Moretti had it 115-113 in favor of Pacquiao.

Judge Robert Hoyle saw it a draw, 114-114.

The Manila Times scored it 115-113 for the Filipino champion.

Pacquiao and Marquez fought on even terms through most of the fight, with Pacquiao scoring with straight left hands and Marquez responding with straight rights of his own.

But Pacquiao was the more active fighter, landing 176 of 578 punches compared to Marquez’ 138 of 436 punches, according to CompuBox statistics.

The Filipino boxing icon also had the edge in power shots landed, 117-100.

Marquez and his team stormed out of the ring, while Pacquiao’s supporters celebrated as soon as the scorecards were announced.

“The fight was not easy. He’s a good fighter,” Pacquiao said during a post-fight interview. “I did my best and I clearly won the fight.”

Some of Marquez’ fans booed the judges’ decision, throwing paper cups toward the ring.

Marquez later told ring analyst Max Kellerman that he thought he had a clearer win this time compared to the first fight in 2004 that ended in a split draw and the second four years later that Pacquiao won by a razor-thin split decision.

“It’s hard to fight your rival and fight the judges also,” he said through an interpreter.

Marquez’s trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain branded the verdict, “a robbery, a robbery of the utmost.”

Pacquiao [54-3-2, 38 by knockouts] said before the fight that he wanted a “decisive” win to erase all doubt surrounding the two previous fights.

In the end, he had to rely on his improved boxing skills to eke the win against the one opponent who has given him trouble in their storied boxing trilogy.

When asked about prospects of an eagerly awaited showdown against unbeaten American superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao replied, “Bring it on.”

Mayweather’s adviser Leonard Ellerbe announced days before Saturday night’s fight that Mayweather would be ready to fight Pacquiao on May 5.

Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum quickly dismissed Ellerbe’s statement as a dubious attempt to steal some of the luster of the third encounter between two of the most exciting elite fighters in boxing.


Cloak of invincibility pierced

LAS VEGAS. – The 28 stitches over his right eye weren’t enough to keep Manny Pacquiao from headlining his own post-fight concert, which went on as usual into the early morning hours on the Las Vegas Strip.

They certainly won’t keep him from his next fight, though that’s the only sure thing when it comes to Pacquiao’s immediate future.

He escaped with a win Saturday night against Juan Manuel Marquez, but that only tells part of the story. Seemingly invincible over the past three years, he looked anything but in scoring a majority decision over his Mexican nemesis in a win that enraged both Marquez and thousands of his supporters who packed the MGM Grand arena.

Somewhere, Floyd Mayweather Jr. had to be watching. Somewhere, Mayweather had to be wondering.

If Marquez could more than hold his own against Pacquiao by counter punching him every minute of the fight, what would stop Mayweather from doing the same? If Marquez did everything against Pacquiao except win, why not finally take dibs on next and finish the job?

It’s boxing, of course, so nothing is ever that simple. In almost getting beat, though, Pacquiao may have done more to make a mega-fight with Mayweather than with any of his big wins in recent years.

Pacquiao has trouble with counter punchers, as his fight with Marquez clearly showed. And Mayweather is one of the best–if not the best–counter puncher in the sport.

"The style of Mayweather would get very complicated for Pacquiao," said Marquez, who has fought both men.

The style of Marquez certainly was very complicated for Pacquiao, who needed to win a few late rounds to pull out a decision almost as close as the one he won from Marquez in their fight three years ago. Pacquiao won the fight by sheer aggression, though Marquez seemed to land the harder punches, especially with his right hand.

One judge scored the fight even, as did The Associated Press. Two others had Pacquiao winning, 115-113 and 116-112. When the decision was announced, an infuriated Marquez stormed from the ring in protest, and fans started throwing beer bottles toward the ring.

"For me, the best judges are the audience and you see how they responded," Marquez said. "I don’t know what type of performance I need to give. It was a robbery once again."

Marquez may have only himself to blame for that. He came into the ring still fuming over the draw Pacquiao got against him seven years ago and the split decision Pacquiao won in 2008. He had to know most of the rounds were so close they were difficult to score, and that judges more often than not favor the fighter moving forward against the fighter moving backward when all things are equal.

Still, after listening to his corner telling him he was winning the fight, he came out slow in the final round. Neither man did much in a round when they might have been expected to let it all loose, but if Marquez would have fought a little harder and won the 12th round on two scorecards he would have gotten a draw.

"It could have gone either way," said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer. "I thought Manny edged it out in the last two rounds."

Roach said the third fight between the two men–like the first two–was so close and competitive they should fight a fourth time. But after 36 rounds fought in much the same style at three different weights, it’s doubtful a fourth fight would have enough appeal to sell it to a wide enough pay-per-view audience that would allow Pacquiao to earn another $25 million or so.

What Pacquiao thinks about his future is hard to say. After getting stitched up, he showed up with a bandage over his right eye at the post-fight press conference, only to quickly leave after promoter Bob Arum–perhaps not wanting his fighter to have to answer what could be negative questions–allowed only two questions and quickly ushered Pacquiao out of the room.

What did Pacquiao see? He thought he won the fight clearly, and he has trouble with Marquez’s style.

"He wants for me to create action and it’s not easy to create action when he’s waiting for a good shot," Pacquiao said. "He’s a very good counter puncher."

So, of course, is Mayweather, who also possesses defensive abilities the 38-year-old Marquez can only dream about. Mayweather dominated Marquez when they fought, though the fact Pacquiao had a lot of trouble with him may be more a style issue than anything. Styles do make fights, as the old boxing axiom goes, and Pacquiao’s style matched up with that of Marquez almost guarantees close, competitive rounds.

Still, the fight was entertaining, a chess match fought with gloves by two fighters whose hearts will never be questioned. The sellout crowd at the MGM Grand was on its feet most of the way, cheering on the exchanges even if the final result didn’t sit well with Marquez fans.

Thousands of miles away, almost everything in the Philippines came to a halt so Pacquiao’s countrymen could watch their national hero fight. Crowds watching the bout fell silent as Marquez kept landing his right hand, and some feared Pacquiao might have been defeated.

Unlike the crowd in this gambling city, they burst into applause as the decision was announced. There were cheers of joy, but mostly there were cheers of relief.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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