Juan Manuel Marquez didn't need to grab the attention of hardcore boxing fans. We already knew he was great. However, when he punched Manny Pacquiao in the face in the sixth round, he punched his way into the consciousness of the casual fan and his ticket to the hall of fame.
He has finally captured the type of victory that stands above the rest of the accomplishments of an esteemed career. The 39-year-old Mexican champion scored the only emphatic victory between him and the Filipino legend.
In case you haven't seen it, take a look at the decisive shot:
Hall of Fame boxers should have great records and a history of championships. Marquez had that before yesterday's dramatic victory. He came into the MGM Grand 54-6 with 39 KOs, and he had already won eight world titles.
What he didn't have was a signature win over another elite fighter.
They don't get much more elite than Manny Pacquiao. There is no doubt in my mind that Pacquiao isn't the same guy he once was, but it isn't as if Marquez wasn't comparable to Pacquiao when he was in his prime.
Marquez had already fought three nip-and-tuck battles with Pacquiao before. Many believed Marquez deserved one, two or all three decisions in those previous matchups.
This time, Marquez took the decision out of the judges' hands. He had rocked Pacquiao before, but Saturday he rolled him.
In doing so, he becomes the third fighter to beat the legend while he was still considered a great fighter. Only Erik Morales and Timothy Bradley have that distinction, but neither of them knocked Pac-Man out.
When Marquez woke up on Sunday morning he had to feel different.
This was the first time he woke up as the unquestioned better man as it compares to Pacquiao, and this was the first time he could consider himself an undisputed hall-of-famer.
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