As I stated in the opening, when it comes to current boxing rivalries, there is this one and then there is everything else. Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez is not just currently the greatest rivalry in boxing, it ranks among the best of all time.
And it almost never happened. In their first meeting, Pacquiao exploded on Marquez in the first round and sent him to the canvas three times.
Somehow Marquez managed to battle back into the fight and control large portions of it. The result of the first meeting was a draw.
Pacquiao won the second fight by split decision and the third by majority decision. I thought Marquez deserved to win both those fights, though they were far too close to call robberies.
Although their fourth fight ended in a decisive knockout for Marquez, it was still another classic. Marquez caught Pacquiao with a beautiful right-hand counter to drop him in Round 3. Marquez stayed in control to win Round 4.
But Pacquiao came back strong in the fifth and dropped Marquez. The round developed into a straight-up dog fight, with Pacquiao getting the better of it, buckling Marquez's knees and breaking his nose before the bell.
Round 6 started out all Pacquiao. Marquez hung in the pocket and fought back gamely, but as the last seconds of the round were counting down, it looked like Pac was about to go up four rounds to two.
Instead Marquez lured Pacquiao forward and drilled him with one of the greatest right-hand counters of all time, putting his rival to sleep with a mere second left in the round.
Whether or not a fifth fight will materialize between these two remains to be seen. But as long as they are both still active and the potential is there, this will remain boxing's greatest rivalry.