When Manny Pacquiao had his lights put out Saturday night in Las Vegas by Juan Manuel Marquez, the man with whom he’s had his biggest rivalry, a lot of things were finally extinguished. The Marquez-Pacquiao rivalry is officially over; after three remarkably close fights which could have any number of scoring Marquez took matters in his own hands and won the fight in an undisputed fashion. It brought the series to a close, as there’s no need for a further fight between the two, and finally ended hopes of what would’ve been the biggest fight in combat sports history. With one counter right hand that landed perfectly Juan Manuel Marquez ended whatever hope there was for Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather is finally over.
It’s the one thing that’s going to overshadow what should be Marquez’s greatest victory. He’s been the 3rd best fighter in the world, having faced the men considered the two best, but always overshadowed because he could never defeat Mayweather or Pacquiao. It was a perfect punch at the perfect time, down on the scorecards against a surging champion who always seemed to have his number.
The fight seemed to resemble the rest of the first three fights between the two. Manny’s head and body movement were faster than the third, something Marquez had a problem with the first two fights, and a big knockdown early from Marquez seemed to set the tone. This was a fast and furious fight as both men wanted to make their statement. And in the end the biggest statement was of a fight that didn’t involve Marquez. The biggest payday in sport has officially been killed … and boxing is better off for it.
The hopes of Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, of the biggest buyrate and gate ever for a fight, always came with it strings and hopes that could never be fulfilled. While we waited years for this fight to come about, of disputes over drug testing procedures and revenue splits divided both sides, the promise of the fight was the promise of the sport itself. Two men who were in the same weight class who were coincidentally the best at what they do would finally meet. Two artists with their hands, indisputably and unquestionably the best in the world at their craft, would finally meet in the boxing ring to determine just who would be the best fighter alive.
And after the first couple attempts at getting it together fell through, and multiple fights with other opponents came to pass, hopes were always high that the two would face one another in a generation defining event. As the years progressed, and both fighters managed to win, but less dominantly, the adage that “time waits for no man” came into play and set the Doomsday Clock to get the fight done at two minutes to midnight.
As both men aged it seemed a countdown was on to try and get it set up before the ravages of time wound up sapping their skills as it does to so many other athletes.
The first minute ticked off as Floyd’s personal problems with assaulting women nearly cost him his career. While he managed to avoid a substantial stint in jail on a domestic assault charge, but he hasn’t been nearly as dominant in his past several fights as he had been prior. And in his next fight, still unscheduled, odds are he’ll have slowed down just a bit more than he was a fight ago.
It was the same with Manny, who became a congressman in his native Philippines but lost to Timothy Bradley in disputed fashion after winning in a similar manner against Marquez in their third battle. And as the clock reached one minute to midnight with Pacquiao under the gun against Marquez a fourth time the biggest fight in combat sports history finally struck midnight as Pacquiao hit the canvas.
The $200 million dollar fight that had long been on the table was no longer available. Mayweather/Pacquiao was akin to a fancy meal set up but not indulged because a key participant had not arrived yet to properly start the dinner. Right now the glass slipper that had been expected to fit for so long was finally tried on, years after it probably fit was tried on by Manny Pacquiao and I came up the wrong size.
While it could’ve made a lot of people a lot of money Pacquiao vs. Mayweather is now dead as anything but just another fight. The promise of the superfight, of two of the best fighters of their generation in their prime, is now gone with the sands of time. Instead of two aging fighters at the end of their peak fighting out of obligation now we can officially put it in the “What if” category.