By Edwin G. Espejo
16 Mar 2008
MANNY Pacquiao finally solved the puzzle that is Juan Manuel Marquez by eking out a close and exciting split decision victory to etch his name in the record books of professional boxing.
He also erased the ghost of his past defeat to Erik Morales three Palm Sundays ago.
Yes, Manny suffered his lone loss to a Mexican boxer at the MGM Grand Hotel almost four years ago after he was outboxed by Morales in a classic duel between two super featherweights. With his win over Marquez Sunday, not only did he exorcise that defeat but he also over come the bad luck that is associated with number 13.
For the uninitiated, his rematch with Marquez was Manny's 13th bout in the US. Knowing how superstitious the new World Boxing Council (WBC) super featherweight champion is, the victory was a leap against all odds for the very religious Filipino boxing superstar.
In the process, he kept his winning ways against Mexican boxers while avenging the losses of Filipino boxers to his vanquished opponent.
Manny climbed the ring a heavy favorite but knew that Marquez was a dangerous opponent.
Marquez showed flashes of aggressiveness and was sharp with his counters early on. He even delivered a left hook followed by crushing right straight to the new champion in the second round that staggered the Filipino momentarily.
But Manny came back in the third round with a short left hook that sent Marquez crushing on his back. Manny pressed on for the kill but Marquez, noted for his sweet counterpunching style weathered the attack as the bell sounded for the round.
In the fifth round, an accidental clash of heads opened a cut in Marquez's right eyelid.
In Round 7, it was Manny's turn to suffer a nasty cut on his eyelid courtesy of a left hook from Marquez.
That cut bothered him in rounds eight and nine when he repeatedly got caught by big right straights from Marquez.
And it looked like it would become a repeat of his loss to Morales.
But the indomitable warrior in Manny dug from his bag of tricks and came back in the latter rounds to repeatedly rock Marquez who bled profusely late in the bout.
When the verdict was announced, Manny snatched away the WBC belt of Marquez and crowned himself the new Ring Magazine super featherweight king.
The camp of Marquez was shocked in disbelief as one of the judges had him ahead 115-112 and it was the first verdict announced. When the scores of the other judges were read by Michael Buffer, Pacquiao's camp jumped in jubilee as the Manny's name was announced "new super featherweight champion of the world."
It was the third lineal title for Manny, which established him as the only boxer in the history of sports to capture both the flyweight and super featherweight crown and also held the super bantamweight diadem in between. Had Marco Antonio Barrera not abdicated his featherweight title when he went up against Pacquiao in 2003 for refusing to pay the sanctioning fee against an early opponent, Manny would have been a four division champion.
But that could come soon as his Sunday's championship feat will be his last in the super featherweight. And the fans had a peak of what could become a history-setting achievement in WBC lightweight champion David Diaz who fought in the under card. Diaz won a unanimous victory against a game Ramon Montano.
That bout is already agreed upon as both Diaz and Pacquiao are promoted by Top Rank's Bob Arum.
Here is the round by round account of Manny's hard-earned victory against Marquez:
Manny climbed the ring first and was in his white trunks in obvious departure of the red trunks he wore when he first fought Marquez. He appeared relax and was smiling and acknowledging fans on his way to the ring.
Marquez on the other hand wore black trunks and carried a mean look on his face.
Both fighters appeared tentative and measuring each other and looking what each has to offer. Manny missed with his customary lazy jabs but scored first with a right straight to the body. Marquez showed some aggressiveness and was uncharacteristically throwing his jabs before Manny could uncork his. A low blow from Marquez in the leg of Manny earned him an admonition from referee Ken Bayless. Neither fighter landed a meaningful punch although Marquez was more active midway through the round. MARQUEZ 10-9
Manny opened the round looking to engage Marquez by being aggressive with his jabs and left straights. Marquez was landing with his right straights and left hooks to the body of Pacquiao. Marquez was accurate with his counters and with few seconds left in the round, he uncorked a thundering left hook that snapped down Manny's head as the Filipino kept on pressing. MARQUEZ 10-9
Manny was more active. He was stiffening his jabs and landed a three-punch combination early in the round. Marquez however landed with right leads of his own. The tow boxers slugged it out late in the rounds and with less than 30 seconds left in the third, Manny landed a short but very powerful left hook to the chin of Marquez who was sent crashing to the canvass on his back. He beat the count and Manny pressed in for the kill as the bell sounded. Marquez was still wobbly and nearly went to the wrong corner as he gathered his wits.PACQUIAO 10-8
Marquez was still hurting and Pacquiao exploited this with lunging left straights that often found their target. Manny has closed the distance between him and Marquez but Marquez somehow recovered late in the rounds and also connected with several counters of his own.PACQUIAO 10-9
Manny somehow slowed down on his attack and was waiting for Marquez to commit. Marquez connected with a left hook to the body of Manny and a big right to the face of the Filipino champ before the round ended. An accidental clash of heads open a small cut on the right eyelid of Marquez.MARQUEZ 10-9
Marquez showed sign he has recovered from the knockdown in the third and was connected with his right leads to the face of Manny was backing down. Marquez landed some two to three punch combinations and has regained confidence.MARQUEZ 10-9
Manny pressed on his attacks and the two exchange furious combinations in the middle of the ring. Manny is getting the better of the exchanges. Marquez landed a glancing left hook that opened a big cut on the right eyelid of Manny.PACQUIAO 10-9
Marquez now has a target and was throwing more jabs at the right eye of Manny who was bothered by the blood flowing inside his eyes. Manny was backing down from Marquez and was repeatedly tagged by right leads from the Mexican.MARQUEZ 10-9
Still bothered with blood flowing for m his cut eyelid, Manny connects with big lefts and snapped the head of Marquez several times. The cut on Marquez's eye worsened and he was now bleeding profusedly. Manny pressed for the attack and staggered Marquez with a series of combination as the bell ended to capture the round.PACQUIAO 10-9
Sensing he had Marquez in trouble, Manny continued to press Marquez with powerful lefts but Marquez answered with several big rights of his own. The two locked horns and threw several of their money punches but Manny landed with a big left as the bell sounded.PACQUIAO 10-9
The penultimate round. Marquez landed a low blow that hurt Pacquiao. He was given a warning. Marquez' combinations were no longer as crisp and as swift as in the early goings but he continued to fight back and landed several shots against Manny. Manny however sensed that his foe's punches have lost their sting and landed several big lefts at the end of the eleventh to again steal the round from Marquez.PACQUIAO 10-9
The crowd was on their fifth as the two boxers touched gloves to begin the round. Marquez was still landing his right hands but Manny also repeatedly threw big lefts. The two are now missing some of their power punches. Marquez appeared tired while Manny was still landing bigger punches as the round ended.PACQUIAO 10-9
Top photo: Manny Pacquiao (C) of Philippines celebrates winning his title fight against WBC super featherweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada March 15, 2008. REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES)
Juan Manuel Marquez, of Mexico, is knocked down by Manny Pacquiao, of the Philippines, in the third round of their WBC super featherweight title match at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, Saturday, March 15, 2008. Pacquiao won by split decision after the 12th round. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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