The epic trilogy between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez was (sort of) settled last night, when Pac-Man retained his WBO Welterweight Title with a majority decision victory.
For all the talk from Team Pacquiao about Manny paying Marquez back for doubting the previous two results, and settling matters once and for all, that is not quite what transpired.
Instead we saw another close fight last night where the Mexican great Marquez was sold short. The only difference is that Marquez does not fully realize who it was who short-changed him last night.
In the emotional aftermath of the fight, Marquez called the result a “robbery” and believed the ringside judges had conspired against him. Sadly for Juan Manuel, that was not the case.
Manny was the busier fighter throughout the fight, and any casual observer knows this alone gives you a strong chance of getting rounds in the bank on the scorecards. In addition to that, the official CompuBox statistics recorded Pac-Man landing 176 clean punches throughout the fight, as opposed to 138 scoring blows for Marquez.
While the underdog tends to get goodwill from the crowd, the fact is that Pacquiao did enough to win the fight fair and square. When you are not favored to win, it is easy to get public opinion to sway in your favor if the fight is close, but that is not the same as being the better man and winning the fight.
Even the most bias Marquez fan must acknowledge that the fight was close going into Round 9 and the results up for grabs. However, one man failed to do this, and he is the man to blame for Marquez getting short-changed last night. That man is Marquez’s longtime trainer and ally, Ignacio "Nacho"
The first error Beristain made was in repeating the mantra “Marquez Beat Pacquiao twice" repeatedly in the buildup to this fight. Instead of showing a desire to actually beat Pac-Man, Beristain merely parroted how close the previous two fights were and claimed some kind of moral victory.
This set an atmosphere where if it got close again, then another moral victory, and a false sense of being victimized could dull the pain of defeat. In this sense Beristain must be congratulated, as he most certainly pulled that off (for better or worse).
The biggest faux pas committed by Beristain, though, came during the fight, when he appointed himself judge and jury for the fight and decided Marquez was winning comfortably.
Beristain stubbornly repeated this after every round, arrogantly refusing to acknowledge the possibility that the fight was even close. As a result Marquez adopted a defensive mentality for the latter stages to protect a lead that he never had.
Going into the final round, it seemed Freddie Roach urged Pacquiao to go out and win the round while Beristain told Marquez to play it safe and avoid getting knocked out. As a result, Marquez followed orders and let Pacquiao win yet another round on superior work rate.
That round had a defining impact on the fight; if Marquez had won that sole round, the scorecards would have read 114-113, 114-114 and 113-115, giving the Mexican veteran a very creditable draw.
If Marquez had spent the last four rounds throwing and landing more punches, he could have won a legitimate victory, rather than the moral one so craved by Beristain.
After the fight Beristain again said how Marquez was robbed and should have won, his self-fulfilling prophecy had come true and his job was done.
However, the fact is that if Marquez had adopted a more aggressive stance he may have won, and his legacy would have been improved forever.
He trusted his trainer and followed instructions that caused him to concede defeat. For that, Marquez has the right to feel short-changed, not because the judges gave a correct verdict.