The storied and long debated rivalry between Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2 38 KO) and Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1 39 KO) found no resolution in their third explosive encounter on Saturday, November 12 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pacquiao and Marquez first met one another in the ring back in May of 2004, the fight ended in a draw and was deemed to be one of the most closely fought featherweight bouts in recent history.
Both fighters had convincing cases to claim the verbal victory, as Pacquiao capitalized on his three first-round knockdowns and Marquez counted on his overall performance through the 12 rounds.
Their second match, concluded in March of 2008, was also mired by much contest as Pacquiao won via a split decision whilst most people believed that Marquez, despite being knocked down in the third round, won majority of the remaining rounds.
After the questionable rematch, Pacquiao and Marquez went their separate ways, each heading to the polar opposite of the other.
Pacquiao went on to win seven more big bouts against the likes of David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley.
His merciless campaign left many-a-great-fighter in shambles while he garnered numerous world titles, became boxing's first 8-division world champion and was proclaimed the sport's pound-for-pound king.
Marquez on the traversal, won five out of his six following fights, all by way of knockout. His only loss since the 2008 Pacquiao meeting was against the undefeated six-division world champion, Floyd Mayweather.
Through the years, Marquez, along with many boxing fans and enthusiasts, never backed down on the belief that those two fights with Pacquiao were supposed to have gone Marquez's way. Marquez pursued Pacquiao and relentlessly dogged for a third match in an effort to prove who truly won the past two battles.
He got what he wished for shortly after Pacquiao dismantled Shane Mosley last May and as seen in the prelude to the fight, was determined to set the record straight.
An inside look at both of their training camps on HBO's 24/7 series showed that both fighters had made significant adjustments to their game plans.
Pacquiao was portrayed to be much stronger than he has been in previous fights and was said to have developed his right hand into a valuable weapon.
Marquez's camp however, decided that small improvements wouldn't be enough to take down the pound-for-pound king and went on with an overhaul of his training regimen. Marquez relied heavily on scientific and medical methods to achieve his desired condition. The change was lead by strength and conditioning coach Angel Hernandez, throwing out past activities such as lifting rocks and drinking urine.
Marquez appeared to have been moving along well through the course of the program alongside his one and only Hall of Fame trainer, Nacho Beristain.
It was evident throughout the promotion and in all the years of their time apart, Pacquiao and Marquez had a mutual disdain for one another. A disdain that could only be resolved come another fight night.
Marquez, the 10-1 underdog, made his entrance towards the ring in a classic and nationalistic Mexican fashion, he was preceded by a Mariachi band and accompanied by lights bearing the colors of the Mexican flag making the entire scene seem almost like a fiesta. The fact that most of the crowd cheered in approval made it even more colorful.
The lights went out and after a long while, Pacquiao made his walk toward the ring, once again to the tune of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger."
As the fight went underway, both fighters were extremely cautious and clearly pumped with adrenaline. They both danced about one another and barely had any contact in the first round, however, Pacquiao seemed to get the better of the limited contact they did have with a few clean straight shots.
The second round marked the start of the Marquez boxing clinic which would go on for the majority of the night. Marquez made Pacquiao miss on a number of occasions and landed clean combinations on the reigning champion.
The third round was somewhat similar with Pacquiao unable to land his punches and Marquez constantly countering on every exchange.
Pacquiao attempted to even things out come the fourth round, stepping up his intensity and finally catching Marquez with notable punches, Marquez though maintained his composure and closed out well, leaving the judging panel with the first tough round to score for the night.
In rounds five to nine, Marquez turned the tables on the presumptions and predictions of the masses. With short but efficient counter combinations set up by well-angled left hooks and punctuated by strong overhand rights, he picked Pacquiao apart with technical superiority and at times made the "Pacman" stumble.
Pacquiao looked to score with lunges towards his opponent but found himself met by a counter hook almost each time.
Marquez utilized the space between them perfectly and displayed fantastic footwork, the meticulously measured attack forced Pacquiao to pursue and pursue to what seemed to be no avail.
The connections opened up a cut on Pacquiao's lower lip, which his corner tended to prior to the ninth round.
Heading into the last three rounds of the fight, Pacquiao began to feel some sort of urgency and increased the strength and longevity of his charges against Marquez, whose composure remained unscathed.
The 10th round looked difficult to score and could have gone either way thanks to Pacquiao's new energy.
The final two rounds were almost identical, Pacquiao came forward with attacks and bounced right off the counter-punching and mobile Marquez.
A cut above Pacquiao's right eye opened up coming into round 12, further increasing the suspense that lasted until the very end.
People knew what each fighter was capable of so no hope was lost until the fight was over.
However, by the clang of the final bell, the fighters proceeded to do the opposite of the other's actions. Pacquiao walked back silently to his corner and isolated himself on the ring post while Marquez raised his hands in celebration, confident that though Pacquiao was indeed present, he found a way to make it look like he wasn't.
As the two teams and the audience awaited the judges scorecards, it seemed most evident that the general inference would hold true; Marquez out-boxed Pacquiao and would win the WBO welterweight championship.
The Pacquiao crowd was uncharacteristically silent and even Pacquiao's wife, wore a look of worry on her face.
The judges didn't seem to have let the general inference apply to them, as Robert Hoyle scored the bout a draw at 114-114, while Glen Trowbridge and Dave Moretti each gave their cards to Pacquiao at 116-112 and 115-113 respectively.
Needless to say, the crowd was in shock and utter disapproval. Boos rained down on the ring and chants of "Marquez!" filled the public voice.
Marquez did not dignify the decision by staying for an interview and chose instead to walk out to the cheers and reassurances of the people. He left the building all smiles, seemingly satisfied with himself but disappointed by the decision.
Despite the public outcry, the final CopyBox numbers were said to have supported the judging panel.
The fight was truly exciting from start to finish, but appalling in the final scorecards.
Pacquiao at the end of the day improves to yet another questionable victory, but Marquez proved to the world that he wasn't one to be written off. He showed the definition of a heart of a champion and that even the biggest underdogs could come out and put on an "impossible" showing.
Talk of a fourth installment in the Pacquiao-Marquez series has already begun and the fight between Pacquiao and the undefeated Mayweather still looms in the horizon.
Whatever comes next for Pacquiao and/or Marquez, hope still stands that it isn't anything like this.
Carlo's scorecard: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 TOTAL
Pacquiao: | 10 | 09 | 09 | 10 | 09 | 09 | 09 | 09 | 09 | 10 | 09 | 09 || 111
Marquez: | 09 | 10 | 10 | 09 | 10 | 10 | 10 | 10 | 10 | 09 | 10 | 10 || 117