Let's say this bluntly: Pacquiao is no longer an elite fighter. He remains a very, very good fighter, but he is no longer an otherworldly force in boxing. Marquez brought him back to earth.
I never imagined Pac-Man would get knocked out in this fight. I thought Marquez was too reliant on smart counterpunching to land the killer blow. I thought Pacquiao was too savvy to get hit with the knockout blow.
I was wrong.
Let's not make the knockout itself seem more indicative of Pacquiao's performance than it was. Pac-Man was winning on the cards when he was felled, and every boxing match is capable of ending after one punch. That's just the nature of the sport.
But this was a long time coming. Many folks would argue that Marquez likely should have been awarded at least one decision in the last two fights between these folks—if not both. This was always a possibility.
Plus, Pacquiao was showing signs of slowing down. He hadn't ended a fight short since he TKO'd Miguel Cotto in 2009. While most folks outside of the judges thought he beat Timothy Bradley in his last bout, he wasn't dominant enough to convince the judges he earned the decision.
And it's no secret that his pursuits out of the ring are very, very important to him and could be a source of distraction. The man is a politician, for heaven's sake—that's the boxing of the white-collar world. Even before this fight, folks were wondering if he had lost his edge.
Maybe he has, maybe he hasn't; but no matter how you slice it, Pacquiao can no longer be considered elite.
He's likely lost his shot at a superfight with Floyd Mayweather as well, which was always supposed to be his chance to prove he was the best fighter of his generation (along with making an obscene amount of money in the process).
Is Pacquiao still an elite fighter?
Even if the two end up fighting, it won't generate nearly the amount of hype or buzz that would have surrounded the fight before Marquez knocked him out. Plus, Pacquiao's split will be severely cut now that Mayweather is clearly the top-drawing fighter in the bout.
And with that knockout, you could even argue Marquez has gotten the best of the rivalry if you don't believe the two decisions before this fight were judged correctly.
Marquez ended an era. At least Pacquiao went out with bang, even if he was on the receiving end of it. Pac-Man isn't done fighting, but he is done fighting at an elite level.
It was fun while it lasted.
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