When Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1) knocked out Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2) in the sixth round Saturday night, Pac-Man didn’t just lose the fourth installment of this storied rivalry; he lost the allure that has followed him for years.
Pacquiao’s aggressive game plan not only got him knocked out by his biggest foe, it tarnished one of the greatest legacies in the sport’s history. Just like when Mike Tyson was knocked out by Buster Douglas in 1990, the aura that has surrounded the legendary boxer is gone.
Pac-Man will never be viewed as an elite fighter ever again.
While the immediate implications of Pacquiao’s aggressive style were very obvious when he was laying face-down on the mat, the career implications are even more damaging and will be felt long after the wounds from Saturday’s battle heal.
There was little doubt that Pacquiao was following through with what he and his camp had claimed all through the pre-fight process; the veteran fighter would attack relentlessly and get inside to do his damage.
That aggressive style was starting to wear down Marquez and would have knocked him out if it wasn’t for one of the best counterpunches seen in a very long time.
Out of sheer desperation, Marquez saw Pac-Man stutter-step and decided to unleash a hard right hand to his incoming opponent. Pacquiao walked right into the punch and ended up face down on the mat.
With a loss, the questions about whether or not Marquez should have received the decision wins in the previous three meetings are only going to gain momentum.
Pac-Man took this fourth fight with JMM to quiet the critics and satisfy his ego, but his KO loss will only add fuel to the fire.
While it is obvious that two straight losses kill all of Pacquiao’s momentum in the sport, it is the superfight that the boxing world was on the verge of seeing that was the biggest victim on Saturday night.
With Pac-Man and Floyd Mayweather realizing that they weren’t getting any younger and financial terms closer to getting done than ever before—Manny agreed to take less money (h/t ESPN's First Take)—there was a chance we could have got the fight every fan wanted by May 2013.
Mayweather’s record is still unblemished, and he will not be fighting a Pacquiao who now has nothing to lose. That’s not a smart business decision for the now undisputed No. 1 boxer in the world.
Even the best fighters lose, but few lose as much as Pacquiao did Saturday night.