A fifth fight? That’s the outcry after Juan Manuel Marquez, a 3½-to-1 underdog, posted a stunning sixth round knockout of Manny Pacquiao before a sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Marquez, 39, delivered the best performance of his career in stopping Pacquiao with a counter right hand to the chin with just one second left in the round.
Pacquiao was face down in the ring for several minutes and later taken to a local hospital after being diagnosed with a concussion.
Marquez put Pacquiao down in the third round, also with a right hand, while Pacquiao put Marquez down in the fifth. Pacquiao figured to win the sixth round when Marquez caught him. It was a good round with plenty of back-and-forth action, but Pacquiao was landing his left regularly.
“He caught me with my hand down,” Pacquiao said. “That was an error and we corrected it. We worked strength, we worked speed and you can see the result. I got hit by a punch I didn’t see.”
Marquez, who bulked up for the fight, showed a great deal more firepower. He rocked Pacquiao several times with the right and seemed to be the stronger puncher.
Pacquiao, 33, had made an adjustment that allowed him to land his left with more regularity. He kept his lead foot outside of Marquez,, which opened things up.
Marquez, one of the best counter punchers in the sport, connected with his right but this time, it had more pop than it did in the first three outings between them.
The result was sweet vindication for Marquez, who complained about the scoring in each of their first three fights. All three judges had it 47-46 for Pacquiao when the knockout came.
The men fought three spectacular matches over a seven-year span prior to Saturday, with each believing he’d swept the other. But neither could solve the riddle of the other until the fourth match.
The four fights dating back to 2004 now stands 2-1-1 in favor of Pacquiao, but now a fifth fight would seem a lot more marketable than the long-awaited showdown against Floyd Mayweather.
Pacquiao earned at least $25 million for the bout, Top Rank president Todd duBoef said. Marquez was guaranteed $6 million and will probably wind up making around $10 million.
Marquez is now 55-6-1 all time with 40 knockouts. Pacquiao fell to 54-5-2. It was the first time Pacquiao was knocked out since 1999.
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