With one devastating right-handed counterpunch, Juan Manuel Marquez completely changed the course of Manny Pacquiao's career. Now it is Pac-Man with the chip on his shoulder in the rivalry; now he has something to prove. That should drive the 33-year-old champion of eight weight classes to push for a fifth fight with the Dinamita.
Pacquiao was previously undefeated against his arch-rival at 2-0-1 despite the controversy surrounding each decision. But for the first time in 13 years, the Congressman hit the canvas for good in the sixth round of his epic showdown with Marquez on Saturday night in MGM Grand Garden Arena.
As Jon Saraceno of USA Today reports, Pac-Man already has the desire to fight him again, but it depends on promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, a company that promotes both fighters.
Many outsiders feel that Marquez won at least one of their previous three encounters—Marquez believes he won all three—and with every fight prior to this one going the full 12 rounds, it was easily the most decisive victory in the matchup.
The questions about Pac-Man's life outside of the ring will only become more persistent, and his actions all the more magnified, in the context of his second straight loss.
Now that Pacquiao will be associated with what will go down as one of the most famous knockouts in the sport's history, it will be up to him to work on redeeming himself from Saturday's shocker.
Between politics, acting, music and a renewed, vigorous dedication to religion, some have pointed to those factors combining to cause Pacquiao to lose his edge as a fighter. All those commitments could definitely be distracting him from training, but it is worth noting that he began to regain control of the fourth fight against Marquez before his opponent landed a perfect punch.
ABS-CBN News documented a quote from Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach, who attempted to dismiss any notions that his prized fighter was finished:
Freddie Roach: I don't think it's the end of Manny Pacquiao. #PacMarquez— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) December 9, 2012
However, all the different commitments beyond boxing may be too much for Pacquiao to juggle in addition to adequately training for marquee fights.
Even if he wants to seek revenge against his rival, it may not be possible. The major factor is that the 39-year-old Marquez isn't getting any younger, and finally avenged what he felt were unfair outcomes in his storied history with Pacquiao.
That said, another win would prove that Marquez would officially equalize the rivalry at 2-2-1, but the perception would likely be that the Dinamita had the upper hand.
Meanwhile, a third straight loss by Pacquiao would all but end his career, further fortify the doubts currently surrounding him and confirm suspicions that his boxing decline has begun.
Fans would love to see another edition of one of the sport's best rivalries of all time. Pacquiao is already plugging the idea, but he must be prepared and perhaps train for more than two months this time around to make the risky proposition worth his while.
Because unless the outcome is a draw, it will likely make or break the course of Pac-Man's career.