Exotic Brutality and Beauty

By Gordon Marino on December 9, 2012
Exotic Brutality and Beauty
Manny confessed after the fight, "I got hit by a punch I didn't see." (Chris Farina/Top Rank)

LAS VEGAS—It was a night that will go down in the annals of boxing history. Manny Pacquiao, the pugilist widely regarded as the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet, was knocked unconscious in the last second of round six by a crushing right hook from 39-year-old Juan Manuel Márquez.

All during the long buildup to their fourth meeting, Pacquiao promised that he was going to be more aggressive—that he was going to go for the knockout against the boxer known as El Dinamita.

And Pacquiao kept his promise, coming into the ring with a fierce glint in his eye. In contrast to his previous meetings with Márquez, there was no feeling-out process. After the first bell, an almost frenetic Pacquiao came out jabbing and blasting away with his vaunted straight left.

The Filipino icon took the first two rounds easily. Then, in the middle of the third frame, Márquez caught the Pacman in the web of his own furious attack and nailed him with a wide right. Pacquiao went down hard but got up, shook his head and charged forward again.

In the fifth round, Pacquiao was again punishing Márquez. Márquez was bloody, his nose was broken and midway through, Pacquiao knocked him down with a thunderous left.

Right from the start of the next stanza, Pacquiao was recklessly firing away, closing in, intent on finishing his rival off. But at the very end of the round, Pacquiao backed Márquez to the ropes, missed with a left and, at the same moment, Márquez launched a right hand for the ages that detonated on Pacquiao’s chin. Pacquiao went down, face forward, and didn’t move.

The largely Mexican crowd exploded with jubilation, but at the same time there was a palpable sense of concern as Pacquiao lay motionless on the canvas. Within a couple of minutes, though, Pacquiao was sitting on his stool, and a minute later he was talking with HBO commentator Larry Merchant. Ever gracious despite his deeply dazed state, Pacquiao even went over to congratulate his longtime rival.

On the eve of fight night, Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard told me, “The best punch to use against a left-handed fighter [like Pacquiao] is to feint and then throw a wide right hook, instead of the straight right. They can’t see that one coming.”

Leonard was on the mark. Just before he went to the hospital for a CT scan Pacquiao confessed, “I got hit by a punch I didn’t see.” Did he ever.

For his part, an ecstatic but badly busted up Márquez commented: “I knew Manny could knock me out at any time. I threw the perfect punch.”

It will take some time to identify the effects of Márquez’s right on the boxing world. According to Top Rank’s Bob Arum, a fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. remains a possibility, as does Pacquiao’s retirement. Pacquiao is now 61 fights deep into his career and he has been in many a grueling battle. They take their toll.

But one thing is certain: Saturday was boxing at its best—an exotic, somewhat unnerving combination of brutality and beauty.

A professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College, Gordon Marino writes on boxing for the Wall Street Journal. He is on the board and works with boxers at the Circle of Discipline in Minneapolis, as well as at the Basement Gym in Northfield, MN. You can follow him on Twitter at @GordonMarino.

Special thanks to the Wall Street Journal.

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  1. Jan Swart 11:19am, 09/15/2013

    Marquez threw a right CROSS, not a hook. he has an orthodox stance.

  2. Henry 01:11pm, 12/10/2012

    with that kind of fight, i won’t mind watching pacquiao-marquez more. good fight

  3. David Matthew 07:21pm, 12/09/2012

    A very fine work, Gordon.  Appreciated that Sugar Ray quote as that indeed was the punch that did the trick.

  4. Selanne 03:56pm, 12/09/2012

    It was a great 6 round match. That punch by Marquez was a missile. I’m still in shock. I’m still stunned.

  5. the thresher 01:09pm, 12/09/2012

    Perfect recap

  6. Lucas 12:52pm, 12/09/2012

    Juan Manuel Marquez nickname is “Dinamita”, and he show that last night on Pacman`s face. Spectacular!

  7. the thresher 09:46am, 12/09/2012

    Great stuff Gordon

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