Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez: How Fans Will Remember Rivalry

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 08:  (L-R) Juan Manuel Marquez throws a left at Manny Pacquiao during their welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez will go down in the pantheon of great boxing rivalries. This epic showdown belongs alongside Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti, Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Jake LaMotta and Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier.

It has been that good. 

It took four fights before this rivalry got a single definitive answer. Pacquiao held a 2-0-1 advantage, but each fight went to a decision, and an argument can be made that Marquez won each one. 

And therein lies the only thing this rivalry had lacked: a clear victor. 

Marquez delivered that missing piece in the form of a vicious, sixth-round, overhand right that resulted in Manny Pacquiao quickly grabbing a face full of canvas for several minutes. 

The outcome was stunning. Were it not for Marquez knocking Pacquiao to the mat earlier in the fight, that would have been the first time the 33-year-old legend had been knocked down in this rivalry. 

But beyond that, this fight looked like it was Pacquiao's to lose. Marquez scored the first knockdown of the fight in the third round, but that was after Pac-Man won the first two, and Manny quickly regained control. 

He knocked Marquez to the mat and JMM spent several minutes appearing to wobble on the crest of consciousness as the fifth round came to a close. 

Then in the sixth, Marquez's nose was broken and pouring blood, and it looked like it would only be a moment of time before he was done for good. Then he landed the bomb heard around the boxing world. 

It was a moment perfectly fitting for this rivalry. After coming up empty in three previous attempts, the determined Marquez stayed strong and persevered, and in doing so, he not only gave that fight an ultimate answer, but the entire rivalry. 

While Pac-Man still has the better record, Marquez has to be considered the leader. He has the only win without an asterisks. 

Who knows? Maybe there is still a chapter to be written in this rivalry and Pacquiao will avenge this loss and flip that entire perception on its ear.

What will never change, though, is that these two have provided fight fans with one of the greatest rivalries to ever hit the ring.