By Rick Reeno
MGM Grand, Las Vegas - WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (54-3-1, 38KOs) won a controversial twelve round majority decision over Juan Manuel Marquez (53-6-2, 39KOs) to retain his title. The scores were 114-114, 115-113 and 116-112.
They fought to a twelve round draw in 2004, and Pacquiao won a close twelve round split decision in 2008.
A very close round to start, with Marquez controlling the pace and being very aggressive. Pacquiao starting slow, which is making Marquez gain confidence. Marquez jumps in with quick combinations and steps away before Pacquiao is able to counter. They were starting to stand their ground and trade punches in the third. The rounds were close and Marquez was doing much better than anybody had anticipated. He was outworking the champion and fighting smart. Pacquiao had a much better fourth, but Marquez closed it strong with a rally of punches in the final ten seconds.
Marquez started the fifth with digging hooks to the body and a big uppercut up the middle. They were trading away, but it was Marquez who was outlanding and outpunching Pacquiao. Marquez continued to target the body in the sixth and he was catching Pacquiao with punches down the pipe.
The seventh started with a big counter hook by Marquez. They were exchanging plenty. Pacquaio just couldn't land his punches, and Marquez was hitting the target flush - time and time again. Pacquiao's body of work was a little bit better in the eight. Marquez still made it close and landed the more accurate punches.
Pacquiao was pushing forward in the ninth, yet getting caught for his efforts. They started trading very hard punches. Marquez took Pacquiao's best and returned fire with both hands. The entire crowd, mostly pro-Marquez, was in a frenzy. In the tenth, they continued to trade huge punches. The action was heavy for nearly the entire three minutes. Marquez still had the edge with his accurate punching, while Pacquiao couldn't land a flush enough punch to change the course of the fight.
The eleventh round was close. Pacquiao landing harder, while Marquez was still accurate and outworking the bigger man. A twelfth round filled with suspense and the aroma of upset in the air. Marquez was outboxing to hold his win, as a frustrated Pacquiao couldn't find a finishing punch.