By Sammy Rozenberg
We waited four long years and it finally happened. The rematch was well worth the wait. In 2004, Juan Manuel Marquez survived three-knockdown in the first-round to box his way to a draw with Manny Pacquiao.
Earlier tonight at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Pacquiao (47-3, 35KOs) won a close split decision over Marquez (48-5, 35KOs) to win the WBC super featherweight title. The scores were 115-112 Marquez, 115-112 Pacquiao and 114-113 for Pacquiao.
The rematch lived up to the hype and had just as much drama as the first meeting. Marquez came out boxing for the first two-rounds and stunned Pacquiao at the end of the second. In the third, Pacquiao unloaded with a hard left that would send Marquez down. At that point, the war began with both combatants trading some heavy leather as Pacquiao went for the finish. The drama continued to unravel for the next few rounds as Marquez obliged Pacquiao by standing his ground to trade power punches.
A clash of heads in the seventh opened up a cut outside the right eye of Marquez. The tide would change once again in the eight as an inside right hand opened up a bad cut on the right eyelid of Pacquiao. The cut bothered Pacquiao and impaired his vision. Marquez would take advantage by unloading with combinations and right hands to the head to once again shift the momentum of the fight. Both were battered, bleeding and bruised by the tenth.
The fight was on the table going into the twelfth and final round. Marquez began to connect with numerous combinations on a tired Pacquiao who was unable return fire with his counters. The crowd stood on their feet as they continued to trade in the closing moments of the fight. At the end of the day, the knockdown in the third won the fight for Pacquiao. Marquez feels he was robbed of a win.
"I won the fight. It was the wrong decision. One knockdown is not an entire fight," Marquez said.
According to the plan for the last few months, Pacquiao is set to fight WBC lightweight champion David Diaz, who won a non-title bout on the undercard, in the summer. Diaz is not going to be a pushover for Pacquiao. He's a strong, big lightweight. He lacks one-punch knockout power, but he uses his big frame to physically impose his will on opponents.
He possesses a sneaky defense and picks off a lot of the punches that opponents throw in his direction. He showed in his winning effort with Jose Armando Santa Cruz, he's able to change the direction of a fight with a single punch. The year-end opponent, should he get by Diaz, is up in the air. One mega name that everyone involved has mentioned is Ricky Hatton. HBO, Top Rank and Hatton's handlers want the fight.
A fight with Hatton would require another jump in weight to junior welterweight limit of 140-pounds. Hatton would also need to beat his comeback opponent on May 24, Juan Lazcano. There are many in the sport who feel that Hatton, although he's only five-pounds north, is too big and too strong for Pacquiao, who weighed 106-pounds for his ring debut in 1995.
Another name mentioned has been newly crowned WBO/IBF/WBA lightweight champ Nate Campbell. If Pacquiao beats Diaz, a bout with Campbell would be for the undisputed lightweight title. If Campbell shows up in the same fashion as he did in his big upset win over Juan Diaz last weekend in Cancun, Pacquiao will have his hands full.
With Pacquiao moving up in weight, Marquez would become the top fighter in the super featherweight division. He will probably find himself in a fight for the vacant WBC title that Pacquiao will leave behind.
On the undercard,
WBO featherweight champion Steven Luevano (35-1, 15KOs) came off the floor to win a unanimous twelve-round decision over mandatory challenger Terdsak Jandaeng (29-3, 19KOs).
Luevano appeared to be too good for Jandaeng, until a chopping left hand by Jandaeng in the fourth, sent him down. The two would trade punches and Jandaeng actually went down, also in the same round, but the ref ruled it a slip. The remainder of the fight saw Luevano outbox Jandaeng to win the fight. Jandaeng came on strong in the final two rounds, but Luevano held him off. The scores were 118-109, 119-109 and 119-109.
NABO bantamweight champion Abner Mares, (16-0, 10KOs), from Mexico, stopped Diosdado Gabi (30-4-1, 21 KOs), from The Philippines in two-rounds. After getting Gabi in trouble in the first round, he used a straight right to drop the Filipino fighter in the second. A barrage of punches sent Gabi down again seconds later. He was able to make it to his feet, but Jay Nady had seen enough and stopped the fight.
WBC lightweight champion David Diaz (33-1-1) won a hard fought ten-round decision over Ramon Montano (14-3-2). After Montano got off to a decent start, Diaz began to outpunch and outhustle his opponent to win the majority of the rounds. The bout was contested a few pounds above the lightweight limit, which made it a non-title bout.
Welterweight prospect Danny Garcia (4-0, 4KOs) continued his charge by blowing out Charles Wade (4-5, 1KO) in less than an a minute of the first round.