By Cliff Rold

2008 was a year of endings and new beginnings at 130 lbs.  The four-way Barrera-Pacquiao-Morales-Marquez dance may finally have seen a conclusion.  If it did not, it certainly saw the end of its turns at Jr. Lightweight with Marquez gone to Lightweight and Pacquiao found at other destinations on the scale.  Promising young titlist Edwin Valero vacated his WBA belt and moved to Lightweight while promising Featherweight titlists Robert Guerrero and Jorge Linares made 130 their new home.  Add them to tough new WBC titlist Humberto Soto and the losses of Pacquiao and Marquez need not be a loss of fun, intriguing fights in 2009.

For now, we look back at the division’s central man in the year behind.

Jr. Lightweight Fighter of the Year: Manny Pacquiao

While only competing in class once in 2008, Pacquiao’s lone appearance came against one of the best fighters in the world.  Contested for the vacant Ring Magazine belt, and without much argument against the winner being the best fighter in the division, Pacquiao’s rematch win over Marquez granted him best claim to the World Jr. Lightweight championship, a lineage last vacated by Floyd Mayweather in 2001.  Added to his previous runs as Flyweight and Featherweight champion, it marked a remarkable span of weight classes not previously accomplished at the World title level in Boxing.

In March, it wasn’t known yet that Pacquiao would so easily master David Diaz or Oscar De La Hoya at Welterweight.  At the end of twelve months, it is the battle with Marquez which remains his most thrilling affair.  Logic dictates Pacquiao as the favorite for Fighter of the Year honors; Jr. Lightweight accomplishment was the foundation for his run.

Jr. Lightweight Fight of the Year: Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez II

Their first fight, in 2004, was razor close.  Pacquiao dropped Marquez three times in the first round only to find himself in a war for the next eleven.  Almost four years later, they produced a second classic.  Marquez only hit the deck once and a split decision showed the two as only inches apart.  CompuBox provided analysis at BoxingScene:

No matter how many times Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez fight, they will produce nip-and-tuck affairs that are difficult to judge. Their first fight in May 2004 was a split draw that sparked plenty of debate and last Saturday’s rematch followed the same blueprint as Pacquiao captured a razor-thin split decision to win Marquez’s WBC super featherweight belt. With the victory, Pacquiao becomes the ninth man to win four divisional crowns, and the plan calls for the Filipino icon to gun for a fifth this summer.

Pacquiao won the judges’ nod based largely on the third-round knockdown, but the CompuBox statistics backed Marquez’s assertion that he should have gotten the nod.

Though Marquez threw 108 fewer punches (619-511), he landed 15 more (172-157) overall, and the 34-year-old Mexican also amassed a 16-punch edge in power connects (130-114) while throwing just five more (310-305). The only category Pacquiao out-did Marquez was in connected jabs (43-42), but the challenger had to throw 113 more of them (314-201) to do so.

Despite the above arguments in Marquez’s favor, if a judge had based his card solely on who connected more on a round-by-round basis (which they don’t), Pacquiao would have come out ahead 6-5-1, or 115-114. Incidentally, the even round occurred in the third, and had an extra point been awarded the scorecard would have read 115-113 Pacquiao, which would have been close to Duane Ford’s card of 115-112.

Just like the action inside the ring, the advantage in terms of overall connects swung from round to round. Pacquiao connected with more blows in the first (12-6), fourth (19-14), sixth (16-15), ninth (13-12), 10th (17-15) and 11th (16-12) while Marquez earned edges in the second (18-9), fifth (12-10), seventh (15-12), eighth (21-5) and 12th (19-15). As one can see, Pacquiao won his rounds by a combined 19 landed punches (an average advantage of 3.17 punches per round) while Marquez won his by a combined 34 (an average advantage of 6.8 per round). That means – from a statistical point of view – that Marquez won his rounds bigger than Pacquiao did his. Because judges base their decisions on clean punching and damage inflicted Marquez would have won those arguments from a purely numerical standpoint.

Speaking of damage done, if one broke down solely the power connect totals Marquez would have emerged with the 6-5-1 edge. Marquez won the second (12-9), fifth (10-4), sixth (14-13), seventh (12-8), eighth (15-5) and 12th rounds (15-10) while Pacquiao captured the first (8-4), third (9-7), fourth (13-9), ninth (11-9) and 11th rounds (11-10) while the 10th round was even at 13.

Marquez won his rounds by a combined 29 connects (an average advantage of 4.83 connects per round) while Pacquiao amassed a 13-punch advantage over his five rounds (a 2.6 punch per round edge).

The opinions concerning who should have won the fight are as divergent as the contrast in styles presented by the main-event fighters, and the arguments will surely rage for years to come. Such are the fruits of subjectivity.

Jr. Lightweight: The Year in Results

Since last January, BoxingScene has produced quarterly ratings for each of Boxing’s seventeen weight classes.  Ratings for the first quarter of 2009 should be available at the New Year; for now, here’s a look back at the critical Jr. Lightweight results of 2008.

First Quarter

03/15: #2 Manny Pacquiao (46-3-2, 35 KO) SD12 #1 Juan Manuel Marquez (48-8-1, 35 KO, WBC) for the vacant World championship

Second Quarter

04/12: #8 Cassius Baloyi (35-3-1, 18 KO, IBF) MD12 #4 Mzonke Fana (27-4, 10 KO)

06/12: #2 Edwin Valero (24-0, 24 KO, WBA) TKO7 Takehiro Shimada (22-4-1, 15 KO)

06/28: Francisco Lorenzo (33-4, 14 KO) DQ4 #5 Humberto Soto (44-7-2, 28 KO)

 

Third Quarter

08/29: #7 Mzonke Fana (28-4, 11 KO) TKO 3 Victor Manon (3-9-2, 2 KO)

08/30: #10 Roman Martinez (20-0-1, 12 KO) TKO 6 Santos Benavides (14-2, 12 KO)

09/06: Nicky Cook (29-1, 16 KO, WBO) UD12 #3 Alex Arthur (26-2, 19 KO)

09/06: #8 Rocky Juarez (28-4, 20 KO) TKO11 #6 Jorge Barrios (47-4-1, 34 KO)

09/13: #2 Cassius Baloyi (36-3-1, 19 KO, IBF) TKO3 Javier Alvarez (35-8-1, 16 KO)

Fourth Quarter

11/28: Jorge Linares (26-0, 17 KO) TKO5 Whyber Garcia (20-6, 14 KO) for vacant WBA belt

12/12: #6 Urbano Antillon (25-0, 18 KO) KO4 Juan Ramon Cruz (15-6-1, 11 KO)

12/13: #7 Roman Martinez (21-0-1, 12 KO) UD10 Walter Estrada (34-8, 23 KO)

12/20: #1 Humberto Soto (46-7-2, 29 KO) UD12 Francisco Lorenzo (33-5, 14 KO) for vacant WBC belt

Other divisions in 2008 reviewed:

Heavyweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17599

Cruiserweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17478

Light Heavyweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17628

Super Middleweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17595 

Middleweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17553

Lightweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17496

Featherweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17536

Jr. Featherweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17610

Jr. Bantamweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17572

Jr. Flyweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/index.php?m=show&id=17514

Strawweight: https://www.boxingscene.com/?m=show&id=17619

Check in tomorrow for more of BoxingScene’s 2008 Year in Review.

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com