As promoters and fans salivate over the possibility of either one of these fighters getting into the ring against Floyd Mayweather, let's take a look at what each fighter did well and what each fighter struggled with last night in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao was up on all three scorecards, 47-46, at the time of his KO. We can only play the what-if game after watching Pacquiao get knocked out for the first time in his career, but both fighters were clearly trying to make the other pay for taking this fight.
Here's a breakdown of these two great champions and how they performed in Pacquiao-Marquez 4.
Pac-Man likely recognized he was going to have to put on a show to get a fight with Floyd Mayweather one day. After a feeling-out process in the first two rounds, Marquez was the one that took to the offensive first, knocking down Pacquiao for the first time in this classic rivalry.
The Filipino fighter continues to be susceptible to the right hand of Marquez, and the power behind the Mexican fighter's punches continues to grow with each fight. Pac-Man couldn't afford to take hits like those, and the one in the third round proved to be the precursor to the final outcome.
However, Pacquiao came back strong in the fifth. It was clear he took control of the fight, pushing Marquez back and in a position of weakness.
Pacquiao put Marquez on the canvas in the fifth, and it looked like he was going to take control of the fight from that point on. Not being able to finish was a hallmark of this matchup, and Pac-Man had that in the back of his mind when the bell rang for the telling sixth round.
It wasn't expected or even really in succession with Marquez's moves, but JMM took one final right hand to counter Pacquiao's attacks, and that was it. It was disappointing for Freddie Roach's fighter, specifically after winning the punch stats by a 37 to 21 percent margin and landing 46 percent of his power punches.
Here's what Pacquiao had to say after the match, courtesy of ESPN's Dan Rafael:
"I was careless. He's not an easy opponent," Pacquiao said. "I did my best, but that's boxing. That's sports. I thought I got him in the last couple of rounds, but I got hit by a strong punch. I never expected that punch."
This is a tough one to swallow for the Pacquiao camp, especially after the promise of that fifth round.
Juan Manuel Marquez
The new, clear victor in this series gained that title with one punch.
That's not to put down the rest of his performance; JMM came out on a mission, looked like the more physical of the two fighters and exposed one of Pac-Man's former strengths—speed.
But his performance on Saturday night was predicated on two punches. He knocked Pacquiao to the canvas in the third round to get the party started, and then he landed the deadly punch in the sixth that was the KO we'll likely remember for the rest of our time.
Things weren't looking good in the fifth, as Marquez was knocked down once again by the southpaw's aggressive jabs and strong counters. As evidenced by the 47-46 scorecards, the fourth and fifth rounds clearly went Pacquiao's way.
Marquez clearly wasn't happy with those two rounds, and he made his presence felt by waiting on his shot in the sixth. He traded a few jabs with Pac-Man before countering with a huge right hand that left Pacquiao on the mat, and the rest of the MGM Grand either ecstatic or in shock.
Pacquiao was quoted as saying he "never saw it coming" after the fight, and Marquez's plan to attack in the right spots paid off.
It's also a punch that they work on a lot, as noted by Dan Rafael yet again:
"We always worked on that punch," Marquez said. "We knew he was going to come out aggressive so we had a fight plan that was more technical. We were able to capitalize on it."
Marquez got the job done, but is this the final chapter between the two fighters?
Promoter Bob Arum clearly wasn't impressed with the final outcome (surprise?), and notes that there could definitely be another showdown in the near future.
TJ Manotoc had the news on Twitter:
MP says no problem. its up to Arum for a 5th fight with JMM. Arum notes Sugar Ray Robinson & Jake LaMota fought 6 times— TJ Manotoc (@tjmanotoc) December 9, 2012
Marquez brought the wood, but that fifth round will likely be troubling to purists and fans of the Pac-Man. Mayweather is clearly off the table for the loser, but Marquez could defend his title again before facing Pacquiao for a fifth time in 2013.
Will Pac-Man focus on politics after the first-ever two-fight loss streak of his career? Will we ever see Pac-May? So many questions, so few answers after the right hand of Marquez shocked the boxing world on Saturday night.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.