Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez: Revisiting Their Epic First Fight
When Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez met for the first time in May of 2004, nobody envisioned the rivalry that would develop between the two legends.
At the time, Pacquiao was still a rising star, having just burst onto the scene in a big way with a stunning blitz of Mexican legend, and at the time top five fighter, Marco Antonio Barrera.
Marquez, on the other hand, was a dangerous and avoided fighter who was considered too high-risk and low-reward for most.
This fight would, in many ways, set the tone for the entire rivalry that was to follow. Read on as we break down the first fight of this legendary rivalry.
In a lot of ways, the first bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez is a tale of two fights.
There's the first round, which has never been repeated in any of their fights, and then there's the rest of the fight.
Pacquiao came out like a storm in the first round, dropping Marquez three times in the first three minutes. The Pac-Man's speed and attack were just too much to handle.
A straight left off the ropes floored Marquez for the first time, but he wasn't badly hurt. The second and third knockdowns were more damaging, and it appeared the fight could be headed for a quick end.
And even if not, virtually nobody felt Marquez could come back and win.
Especially given that Pacquiao was believed to have opened a 10-6 lead on the judges' scorecards, a near-insurmountable early edge.
Marquez Takes Command
It was easy to conclude after the first round that Marquez was in for a short night. But Dinamita would not go away easily and began to seize control of the fight in the middle rounds.
Pacquiao was able to win the second round, but Marquez succeeded in slowing down the pace and bringing the fight to a place where he had the advantage.
Behind 20-15 after just two rounds, Marquez rallied to win rounds three through eight to close the gap and possibly even take the lead.
On my card, Marquez seized the lead for the first time in the fight after the eighth round, taking a 75-74 lead.
The key for Marquez was staying measured and keeping his punch output up while making Pacquiao miss and expend energy.
Through the middle rounds, it was clear the Pac-Man was tiring after going all out for the knockout and not getting it early.
Pacquiao Rallies Late
With the fight seemingly slipping away from him, Manny Pacquiao staged a last stand that in many eyes, either won him the fight or salvaged a draw.
Pacquiao won the ninth, 10th and 11th rounds on my card by being more aggressive and going at his opponent. Marquez seemed almost like he was lulled into a false sense of security by how easily he was outboxing the Pac-Man through the middle of the fight.
With the fight potentially on the table in the final round, Marquez was just aggressive enough. He clearly didn't want to get caught with something, but he knew he wasn't so far ahead that he could just give the round away.
As the final bell sounded, a fight that seemed over just three minutes in was headed for a dramatic decision.
What the Judges Said
The fight was extremely difficult to score, and there were a few rounds that could easily have been scored either way.
What resulted was a draw, which many felt was a fair verdict given the close and competitive nature of the bout.
And while Marquez felt he was robbed, it often gets overlooked that he only got a draw due to an error by one of the judges.
Judge John Stewart had it 115-110 for Pacquiao, judge Guy Jutras had it 115-110 for Marquez and judge Burt Clements had it 113-113 a draw.
But Clements later admitted that he mistakenly scored the first round 10-7 for Pacquiao rather than 10-6, which would have given him credit for all three knockdowns.
Had Clements correctly scored the round, Pacquiao would've emerged with a narrow split decision victory.
This was an extremely close and competitive fight that legitimately could've been scored either way. There is no doubt that without the knockdowns, Marquez wins this fight going away on the scorecards.
But Pacquiao earned that big lead by dropping him three times. There was nothing accidental or lucky about it.
In many ways, this was a tale of two fights.
After just two rounds, I had Pacquiao ahead 20-15. What looked at the time like an untouchable lead.
Marquez took Rounds 3 through 8 to grab a 75-74 lead entering the final third of the fight. But I saw Pacquiao rally to win Rounds 9, 10 and 11, with Marquez taking the final stanza.
My final card had it 113-112 for Pacquiao, but with Marquez winning 7-5 in rounds. The 11th round, which made up the margin for Manny on my card, could easily be scored either way.
So, anything from a Pacquiao win to a Marquez win to the draw was an acceptable and legitimate way to look at this fight.
It was just that close.